Feast of Lanterns

Welcome to the Feast of Lanterns

2020 Feast of Lanterns

Change with Kindness

The Board of Directors has decided to evolve the Feast of Lanterns in 2020 by consciously changing the pageant and its story. On November 2, 2019 from 3:30 – 5:30pm at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Board President Kaye Coleman and 5th generation descendant of Quock Mui, Gerry Low-Sabado, will speak at an open forum. Members of the Board of Directors of the Feast of Lanterns will be present at the event. We will discuss the process of change the Feast of Lanterns has undergone during its history. This forum is another chance for the Board of Directors to hear from our community and receive as much feedback as possible as the change occurs. The intention is for the community of Pacific Grove to make this change together. All feedback is welcome and there will be plenty of time for questions and comments.

The Feast of Lanterns, Inc. seeks story ideas for the upcoming Feast of Lanterns. If you are interested in writing a story or providing suggestions, we encourage you to submit a new script or an outline of your ideas. All submissions are due by November 15, 2019. The Board of Directors has formed a re-creation committee, and the committee will review all submissions. The committee will then present three to five stories to the Board of Directors on December 10, 2019 at our last official board meeting of the year. At our first board meeting on January 14, 2020 at 7:00pm, the board will vote on the 2020 story.

If you are interested, please email Kaye Coleman at k.coleman@feast-of-lanterns.org or call 831-800-1905. You can also mail your suggestions to PO Box 809 Pacific Grove, CA 93950.

2019 Theme
"Lanterns From All Nations Make A Brighter World"

The Feast of Lanterns Board of Directors is proud to announce the 2019 theme “Lanterns From All Nations Make A Brighter World.” This year will honor what the Feast has been and illuminate all the amazing community service that the Royal Court and Royal Guard complete during their reign. Our theme for 2019 pays homage to Elmarie Hulbert Hyler Dyke by using her tagline from the late 1950s. The Board of Directors invites you to come and celebrate with the last hometown, Butterfly Town USA.

Lanterns From All Nations

Thank You for helping us celebrate the 114th Anniversary of the Feast of Lanterns and the 61th Anniversary of the Royal Court!

For over one hundred years the citizens of Pacific Grove have celebrated its history and culture with a summer festival called the Feast of Lanterns. This Festival has evolved over its 100-plus year history from the ceremonial end to the Chautauqua Assembly with a lantern parade to the beach and fireworks over the bay to a multi-cultural community event filled with entertainment.

Today, with its traditions intact, it continues to provide family entertainment and educational experiences for the community it serves, plus scholarships for community-spirited, active middle school and high school students who are selected each year to reign over the Festival as the Royal Court and Royal Guard.

The Royal Court and Royal Guard are selected from applicants by a committee of local business people, former Royal Court members, and Board members based on several factors, including academics, community service, extracurricular school activities and general personal interests. As members of the Royal Court and Royal Guard, the students are instructed in public speaking and the history and culture of their hometown. They participate in community activities throughout their year long reign.

The Feast of Lanterns is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, with an all-volunteer Board of Directors. The proceeds of the festival each year, minus operating expenses, fund an academic scholarship program for the Royal Court and Royal Guard.

The 2019 Royal Court
Opening Night

Photo by KC Knoop

2019 Feast of Lanterns Royal Court

From left to right: Princess Ruby Ivana Reynolds, Princess Amethyst, Abdhi Jadeja, Queen Topaz, Caroline Coen; Princess Pearl, Cali Knoop, and Princess Emerald, Noor Benny.

Feast of LanternsCalendar of Events

Visit our Calendar page for a complete listing of events.

Christmas Parade

December 5, 2019
6:00 pm - Christmas Lighted Parade – last official event for the Royal Court and Royal Guard

Board Meetings

Board Meeting - December 10, 2019
7:00 - 9:00 pm at the Tourist Information Center, 100 Central Ave., Pacific Grove, CA

Board Meeting - January 14, 2020
7:00 - 9:00 pm at the Tourist Information Center, 100 Central Ave., Pacific Grove, CA

A Quick Feast of Lanterns Survey

The winner of the VIP Tickets for seating with our presentation sponsors went to Danielle Magee and Galye Oki. Thank you for participating in our survey; your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Please answer a few question about the Feast-of-Lanterns.

Create your own user feedback survey

2019 Official ProgramFor all of those who missed the Feast of Lanterns, participated in the Feast, or have never experienced the Feast of Lanterns - Pacific Grove, CA, we present the HIGH DEFINITION version of the Live Stream of the Opening Ceremonies and the Pageant.

Opening Ceremonies Video!

Feast of Lanterns Opening Ceremonies
Chautauqua Hall - July 20, 2019 - 5:00 - 6:30 pm

Entertainment by the Monarch Handbells, Rockstar Dance Studio, the Hootenanny, the 2019 Royal Court and Royal Guard. PH Mayor and Queen Topaz cut celebration cakes as we sing happy birthday to our beloved hometown. The Hootenanny will lead a hometown sing along as we celebrate the Feast of Lanterns and the Chautauqua Assembly.

Opening Video!

Feast of Lanterns Pagent at Lovers Point
July 27, 2019

Feast of Lanterns Pageant

Witness the heroic journey and transformative power of true love!

Queen Topaz Escapes - Pacific Grove’s Legend of the Blue Willow

No one knows who first told the story of the "Blue Willow". Perhaps it was an ancient storyteller who began telling the tale of Scholar Chang and his love for the beautiful Queen Topaz, and how they flew away as immortal doves, forever free. The Pacific Grove version was first told by Pauline Benton of the Red Gate Shadow Players in 1958 at Pacific Grove's Methodist Church - where the lovers fly away as Monarch Butterflies to return again every fall.

The Story

Long ago in far off Cathay, a land now called China, there lived during the reign of Emperors a wealthy Mandarin named T'so Ling. His land holdings were vast and fertile, and his treasures beyond counting. His palace was built of fine woods and rich lacquers with a roof of blue tile that gleamed in the sun, and a handmade fence that ran below the palace. Behind the palace grew an orange tree, and beside the palace ran a river with a graceful willow that gave shade in the heat of the day.

Willow Patern

T'so Ling was a rich and powerful man and his beautiful Princess daughters with their jewel names were his greatest joy. Princess Emerald, Princess Pearl, Princess Amethyst and Princess Ruby. The Mandarin delighted most in his eldest daughter, Koong-se, who he named Queen Topaz, so named for the golden lights that danced in her eyes. This means that she is enlightened and the hero of our story. Topaz passed her days in a summerhouse that leaned over the rippling water, where she did elegant embroidery on silk while listening to tales of old Cathay as told by her faithful nurse, Chun Soy.

T'so Ling thought Topaz so lovely that he wished to crown her as Queen. A coronation ceremony was planned, and all the princes, potentates, maharajahs and lords of the realm were invited to attend the coronation. One of the old mandarins named Ta-Jin brought a chest of gold so impressive that T'so Ling thought this rich man would make a fine husband for his daughter Topaz. T'so Ling made plans to combine the coronation with a marriage feast.

Topaz heard this news and became quite despondent, for she had fallen in love with a young scholar named Chang. Hearing of this, T'so Ling forbade his daughter to marry Scholar Chang. Topaz is heartbroken. One day she is kneeling by the water near the summer house when she sees a coconut shell. In the shell is a note from Scholar Chang and she is so excited that she writes to him, asking him to rescue her from the wedding.

Scholar Chang sneaks into the palace on the night of the coronation with the help of the Royal Guard and rescues his beloved. The old nurse discovers the lovers and warns the Mandarin. He chases the young lovers, but they escape. T'so Ling alerted the villagers to search for Topaz and Chang with lighted boats and lanterns. He also orders the great torii gates to be lighted. He wants to find his beautiful daughter Koong-se. All this time the Goddess Guan Yin, has been watching the Queen Topaz and Scholar Chang. She is moved by their love. Guan Yin, is “she who hears the cries of the world.” She is the Goddess of Compassion. She decides to transform the lovers, so they might be free.

In a final burst of lights, Topaz and Chang are illuminated as they changed into Monarch butterflies and escaped into the sky. The lovers return every year to the place where they fell in love. They are lost in the sea of Monarchs so that the Mandarin may never find them.

The pageant, which takes place on the last night of the Festival, tells the story in pantomime and ends with a burst of fireworks overhead as the lovers are seen for a brief moment departing in the guise of Monarch butterflies. Queen Topaz is free to spend eternity with her chosen beloved Scholar Chang.