Although Indianapolis has a small Chinese population, the capital city of Indiana has begun hosting a number of China-themed events in an effort to boost tourism.

Most recently, it hosted the annual Indianapolis Chinese Festival on September 28, a harvest celebration hosted by the Indianapolis Mayor’s office in collaboration with local Chinese organizations. The event featured dragon and lion dancers, Chinese games, traditional moon cakes, arts and crafts, and authentic food in the hope of educating festival goers about traditional Chinese culture.

Later this month, the Indiana Chinese Lantern Festival will take place— an event held from November 24 to 30 — with more than 30 large Chinese lantern models. The handcrafted sculptures will reference well-known Indianapolis landmarks and symbols. “Visitors will explore both the ancient culture of China while learning about the Chinese traditions of today by taking a walking interactive tour of breathtaking displays,” event organizers said in a statement.

Indianapolis Lion Dance

Indianapolis will bring a host of Chinese cultural events. Image: Visit Indy

In addition to the large lantern displays, the festival will include live acrobatic and folk-dance performances each night. Chinese folk artists will also hold handicraft demonstrations at booths set up across the grounds. Artisans practicing stone carving, flute making, and painting will show off their skills and sell their wares. Traditional Chinese cuisine as well as popular American food and beverages will be on sale.

Chinese lantern festivals date back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E.) and endure as a celebration of the Lunar New Year. Today, lantern festivals have become a pervasive image of Chinese culture, attracting millions of tourists around the world with major celebrations in New York, Cape Town, and Sydney. Since 2015, a number of U.S. cities have hosted Chinese Lantern Festivals, including Atlanta, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Spokane, successfully attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

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