Skip to main content
Global Winter Wonderland

More than 50,000 Visit American Premiere of Global Winter Wonderland

Global Winter Wonderland

More than 50,000 Visit American Premiere of Global Winter Wonderland

Spectacular Giant Lanterns Create a Magical World of Holiday Light

Next to Great America in Santa Clara through January 2, 2012

28 November 2011 – Santa Clara, CA: They came, they “oohed”, they “awed” and they got to visit the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Statue of Liberty and, oh yes, even the Taj Mahal. The “they” is more than 50,000 people who streamed through the gates of the Global Winter Wonderland ( in its American Premiere next to Santa Clara’s California’s Great America during this past Thanksgiving Weekend. 

“We built it and they came, and they’re still coming,” said Lulu Huang, head of Fremont’s International Culture Exchange Group that produced Global Winter Wonderland. “Ever since I saw my first lantern festival near my home in China, I knew that I wanted to bring this unique cultural experience to my new home, here in California.”

A new take on traditional Chinese lantern festivals, Huang’s Global Winter Wonderland is the largest such festival ever presented outside of China. The lanterns, some as large as 50 feet tall and 100 feet wide, are illuminated by 30,000 low-voltage LEDs and fluorescent lights, with several of the structures powered by solar panels, all connected with over 13 miles of electrical wire. Global Winter Wonderland’s gigantic lanterns depict famous architectural landmarks from around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Big Ben, Chichen Itza, and many others; animals real and imagined; a Dinosaur Maze; a Holiday Village celebrating holiday traditions and cuisines from around the world, and much more.

On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, hundreds of people lined up hours before the opening to witness the traditional sunset lighting of the first lantern. In this case, the honor was given to Gao Zhansheng, Consul General of The People’s Republic of China, who pushed the button to light up a huge lantern replica of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, which then triggered lanterns bursting forth with light throughout the Festival grounds.

The following YouTube interview captured the spontaneous reactions of some of the event’s attendees:

Earlier that day, Santa Claus and the 49er Gold Rush Girls boarded the VTA Light Rail, making 24 stops on their way to Global Winter Wonderland. At 3pm Santa and the Gold Rush Girls led a grand opening parade accompanied by local school children and a traditional Chinese Lion Dance to open the event.

“Global Winter Wonderland is ‘a dream come true’ for our City, hotels and local businesses,” said Steve Van Dorn, President & CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention-Visitors Bureau who officiated at the opening ceremonies. “This is normally a slower time of year for meetings and leisure travelers. Global Winter Wonderland fills this void while also bringing different cultures together to experience this very special event”.

In addition to the economic benefit and cultural panache of Global Winter Wonderland, there is a decidedly “green tinge” to the spectacle. To construct Global Winter Wonderland, dozens of workers used 600 gallons of glue to stretch more than 30,000 yards of colored silk around the lanterns’ steel frames, built from over 80 tons of steel. Global Winter Wonderland showcases more than 40 amazing eco-friendly lanterns, designed by the same team of engineers who built lanterns for the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, built from recycled materials that include over 14,000 plastic bottles, 35,000 glass bottles, beverage cans, bottle caps, CDs, porcelain dishes and metal flatware.

Global Winter Wonderland is located just east of US 101 in the Parking Lot adjacent to Great America, 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95054. The festival is open weekends from 4 pm to 11 pm, and will be open daily from December 16 through January 2. Dates and hours of operation are:

• Friday through Sunday, November 25–27, December 2–4, and December 9–11, 4 pm to 11 pm.
• Daily from Friday, December 16, through Monday, January 2; Friday–Saturday, 4 pm to 11 pm, Sunday–Thursday, 4 pm to 10 pm.

Admission at the gate is $12 for adults (13-61); $10 for children (4-12) and Seniors (62+); with children 3 & under admitted free. Save money and purchase tickets online at or by phone at 1-(888) 768-7469.