A spotlight look at the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns

Jason Copas
Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns

Are you ready to experience an exciting cultural event in the heart of Las Vegas? Then the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns may just be one of your favorite events of the year! Cowabunga Bay is known for throwing immersive festival events with lights, rides, and entertainment; the Festival of Lanterns expects to be no different.

This fall Cowabunga Bay will celebrate the Festival of Lanterns with a splendid list of events and decorations to match the traditional festival. This article will explain everything you should know about the event in 2021.

The Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns

Cowabunga Bay is a water park in Henderson, NV. The Las Vegas water park features over 25 unique slides and attractions for thrill-seekers of all ages.

Starting November 5, 2021, the 25-acre water park will transform into a magical world of lights, art, and festive cuisine. The Festival of Lanterns is a holiday event like none other, immersing visitors in a beautiful world where thrills meet Chinese culture.

The Cowabunga Bay team brought in 25 specialized artisans to turn the water park into a new festival world. Many of the sculptures and decorations have been hand-crafted and painted specifically for the special event.  The Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns offers a unique design to explore for people of all ages.

The festival will run from November 5, 2021, through mid-February 2022. The event is available on select dates and begins at 4:00 pm.

The Story of Lantern Festivals

Attending the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns will give you and your family the opportunity to not only be entertained but it also is a great educational opportunity to learn about the history of the festival as well.

The Lantern Festival is not a modern tradition. People in China have been celebrating the annual event for about 2,000 years. However, the festival is still celebrated worldwide and is a favorite among adults and children alike. Thus, when you attend the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns, you are joining an ancient tradition that people around the globe have enjoyed for centuries.

When is the Lantern Festival?

In China, many holidays and festivals revolve around the lunar calendar. The lunar new year falls between late January and early February, depending on the moon cycle.

Lunar new year celebrations continue for weeks in China, and the Lantern Festival marks the end of the annual festivities. People in China hold Lantern Festivals 15 days after the lunar new year, which means the festival is typically in February. In 2022, the exact date of the Chinese Lantern Festival will be February 15th.

When Did the Lantern Festival Begin?

Scholars debate the historical origins of the festival. However, one certainty is that with the shining lights and colorful fireworks, the Festival of Lanterns is a beautiful way for people to emerge from the darkness of winter.

What Happens at the Lantern Festival?

As China is a vast country, specific traditions and practices for a holiday may differ between cities. But here are some things just about every Chinese person traditionally enjoys for the festival:


It is not known as a lantern festival for no reason! A beautiful, bright full moon, floating lanterns, and hand-held lanterns, this may just be the most luminous night of the year. Lanterns come in all shapes and sizes from globes to animals.

Lantern riddles

People will place riddles on the lantern. Then, festival-goers can catch a lantern and guess the riddle. Those with the correct answer may earn prizes.

Lion dances

Lion dances are amazing. The performance consists of two dancers in a lion suit who jump, roll, and walk on stilts. The performers spend many months perfecting the physically demanding dances and take great pride in performing for a large audience. Often the lion dance performances are only available in select festivals and locations in China, therefore, festival attendees often plan their schedule with the lion dance performance in mind.

Sweet treats

The most common traditional food for the Lantern Festival is Yuan Xiao. These treats are glutinous rice balls filled with a sweet sugar bean paste. If you have never tried one of these tasty snacks, it may be time to try them this year.

Now that you understand the history and significance of this annual holiday, we hope you can find even more to enjoy during your time at the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns! Whether you want to enjoy the shine of brilliant lights to ward off the winter dark or welcome spring, this festival will bring unique fun and enrichment for the whole family.

How is the Lantern Festival Celebrated at Cowabunga Bay?

When you walk around the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns, you will not feel like you are in the middle of a water park in Henderson. You may just mistake yourself for being in a magical forest in the middle of China. There will be acrobats performing astounding stunts and the dolphins that look like they could jump along with you, you may just find something new to love with each visit.

What to do at the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns?

What is there to do at the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns? I have broken down the most popular activities at the event for you and your family to enjoy:

Try new foods. In honor of this Chinese holiday, Chinese food will be available at the event. Therefore, come hungry and ready to indulge in some of your favorite staples of Chinese cuisine. Don’t forget to try some festive and tasty cuisine!

Catch a show with gravity-defying dancers and acrobats. Performances include beautiful costumes and intricate choreography. You won’t want to miss the incredible performance that these artists offer at the event.

Soak in the incredible visual artistry. Exclusively for the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns, first-in-class artists will create a magical world of Chinese folklore. Art ranges from replicating some classic sculptures you might see in China to new imaginative creations bursting with color. Have your camera ready because you will not be able to get enough of the beautiful imagery.

Learn more about Chinese culture. Asian folklore and stories will be on display throughout the event, so expect to learn exciting tales from across the world. Like I mentioned earlier in the article, the event can also be an educational activity for the younger members of the family.

What Makes the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns Special?

The artisans of the festival have worked hard to painstakingly bring to life a dreamy vision of the ideal Chinese festival. Keep your eye out for:

  • The Lantern Gallery
  • An enchanting forest of giant ladybugs, trees, and flowers
  • Replicas of iconic worked landmarks
  • A 45-foot-long dragon king emerging from the water
  • A 26-foot-tall dancing lion
  • The Asian Tower
  • 65-feet of twinkling lights and shimmering silks

The Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns is more than just a fun evening; it is an unforgettable adventure! As you explore all it offers, you can not help but immerse yourself in a spectacular world of lights and movement.

Visiting Henderson

Cowabunga Bay is in Henderson, NV. Henderson is 16 miles south of the Las Vegas strip and is the second-largest city by population in the state. The city offers over 320,000 residents unique restaurants, a non-profit lion sanctuary, beautiful nature, and a few casinos as well.

Perhaps you are a Nevada native, or you are a visitor on vacation with the family. In any instance, Henderson is a town with opportunities to learn something new and explore. The Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns is a classic example of how Henderson combines fun for the whole family with new and cultural experiences.

Get Tickets for the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns

Cowabunga Bay is holding the Festival of Lanterns from November 5 through mid-February. But it’s not too soon to start finding dates that work for you and secure your tickets.

Tickets for adults are $25.95 and are only $21.95 for children under 12. If you are a season pass holder, you can enjoy admission at 50% off in addition to discounts on purchases, including food, treats, and beverages.

You can view the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns select dates and book your tickets online at the Cowabunga Bay website.

Tickets are for admission to the park. Once admitted, guests are free to explore the exhibits and events within the festival as they want. You can go on a hunt for your favorite animals, see the dancing, or make straight for the food line.

No matter how you celebrate your fall in Las Vegas, we know you will enjoy a night of beauty and culture at the Cowabunga Bay Festival of Lanterns.