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The L.A. Arboretum’s first ever Moonlight Forest is a mile-long dazzle fest

Here’s a chance to blow your mind while impressing visiting relatives this holiday season (and getting everybody out of the house) at the Los Angeles County Arboretum’s new Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Art Festival.

The "lanterns" are actually large sculptures of brilliantly colored fabric with hand-painted details, stretched over frames and lighted from within by LED lights. Translation: Your social media feed will love them.

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The 66-piece exhibit is divided into three thematic areas. The Children’s World includes fairy-tale characters, herds of dinosaurs and frolicking pandas. The Magical China area features classical Chinese culture, such as a 70-foot-long, 30-foot-high dragon “swimming” across the arboretum lake, and performances by dancers and acrobats.

And in the Nature’s Treasures section, African animals roam a surreal Serengeti Plain and “undersea” tunnels let visitors stroll beneath luminous whales and other creatures of the deep.

This is the first time in its 70-year history the county-owned arboretum has ventured into hosting an evening light display. But arboretum Chief Executive Richard Schulhof said he was won over by the workmanship and craft of Tianyu Arts & Culture, a Chinese company that mixes the ancient tradition of lantern art with high-tech materials to create huge displays of color, sculpture and light.

The company created several unique pieces for the arboretum’s Moonlight Forest, such as colossal peacock lanterns, in honor of the 200-plus wild peafowl who roam the grounds; a California grizzly bear; a coyote; and California poppies.

“I visited some of their festivals in Virginia and Las Vegas and realized their lanterns would be a perfect fit in our landscape,” Schulhof said. “They just look fantastic here.”

Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Art Festival

When: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays (including Thanksgiving Day), through Jan. 6.

Where: Los Angeles County Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

Cost: $28 for adults, $25 for seniors and $23 for children 3-17; purchase online

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