Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Celebrate Chinese arts, culture, music and cuisine.

The New Shanghai Circus is part of Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The New Shanghai Circus is part of Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

courtesy Leslie Wallace/Missouri Botanical Garden

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St. Louis – Celebrate Chinese arts, culture, music and cuisine during Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden, Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Marvel at the daring acrobatic feats of the New Shanghai Circus Troupe, experience a traditional dancing dragon parade, and enjoy a new Chinese Fashion and Cultural Show highlighting regional and clothing, song and dance. In honor of the Garden’s 150th anniversary, this year’s Chinese Culture Days will also feature a rare art exhibit of Chinese bronze artifacts from the Song, Ming, Hahn and Qing dynasties.

Chinese Culture Days admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (ages 65 and over), and $5 for children (ages three to 12). Garden members are $5; members’ children ages 12 and under are free. Doors open at 9 a.m. with activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Purchase tickets online in advance.

A Grand Parade opens the festivities on Saturday at 11 a.m., led by a colorful, 70-foot, 24-legged dragon weaving through the crowd to dispel bad luck and evil spirits. Dance teams, martial artists, acrobats, and groups in traditional costumes follow, clanging gongs and pounding drums to represent happiness and good luck in this Year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac. The parade will wind through grounds again at 2 p.m. both days.

Watch as skilled Shanghai acrobats perform a spectacular extravaganza of elegant dance, dazzling acrobatics, mysterious magic, mystical music, and much more! For more than 40 years, the New Shanghai Circus Troupe has worked to perfect the fine Chinese folk art of tumbling into an international award-winning performance involving both artistry and acrobatics. Performances are held at noon and 4 p.m. both days at the outdoor Cohen Amphitheater.

Don’t miss an exclusive viewing of Chinese bronze artifacts of the Song, Ming, Hahn and Qing dynasties. The pieces are on loan from a private St. Louis collector and will be displayed throughout the event weekend in the Spink Gallery on the upper level of the Ridgway Visitor Center.

Local models will showcase traditional and regional styles at the Chinese Fashion and Cultural Show, taking place twice daily at 1 and 4:30 p.m. in the Shoenberg Theater on the lower level of the Ridgway Visitor Center. Seating is limited.

Join special tours focusing on the symbolism of the Chinese Garden’s plant species and architectural details, offered on the hour from noon to 4 p.m. The Grigg Nanjing Friendship Garden is distinguished by southern-provincial monochromatic colors, different from the elaborate imperial gardens in northern China. Designed as a retreat to escape the distractions of everyday life, it is a private “scholar’s garden” intended to help humans experience chi, the Taoist principle of spiritual harmony with the universe. Chinese gardens, it is said, are built, not planted. Much of the space is filled with pavilions, bridges, and decorative pavements, reflecting the traditional Chinese shan shu (mountain and water) landscape. Stones symbolize the five sacred mountains in China around a central pool of water.

Also in the Chinese Garden, enjoy tea tastings presented throughout the weekend. Watch and listen to performances on the Pipa and Guzhang, ancient Chinese musical instruments. Discover the techniques of t’ai ji martial arts with demonstrations at 1 and 3 p.m. each day; visitors are welcome to simply observe or to participate.

Learn how to prepare delicious Chinese food at home with a cooking demonstration at 2:30 p.m. each day in the lower level of the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. Treat your taste buds with a visit to the food court, where dumplings, egg rolls, lo mein and other favorites will be available for purchase from local restaurants and Chinese organizations.

Chinese Culture Days admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (ages 65 and over), and $5 for children (ages three to 12). Garden members are $5; members’ children ages 12 and under are free. Doors open at 9 a.m. with activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Purchase tickets online in advance at www.mobot.org/tickets. Trams will not operate during the event.

Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden is presented with sponsorship by Novus International Inc.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, easily accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit. For more information, call the recorded event hotline at (314) 577-9400 or toll free 1 (800) 642-8842. To download a complete schedule of events for Chinese Culture Days, visit the MOBOT website.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is the oldest continually operating botanical garden in the nation, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009. The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment, in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.