Waterfalls, cherry blossoms, and dragons, oh my!
This Lunar New Year ushers in the most auspicious of the the 12 animals in the Asian zodiac — the dragon. So Las Vegas' Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has upped the ante with an exhibit worthy of its roar, complete with pagodas, cherry blossom trees, gold coins, and, of course, golden dragons.
The display — called “Infinite Prosperity: The Year of the Dragon — will be up through March 2. It's notable in scale, made of 23,000 fresh and preserved flowers just on the eight children and 8,000 handmade scales on a single dragon. There are also 12,000 plants, 1,800 I-Ching coins, 800 bamboo plants, 24 cherry blossom trees, and nine dragon medallions.
“When designing the Lunar New Year display, our objective was to create an oasis of beauty, tranquility, and cultural richness that exemplifies the powerful meaning behind the Year of the Dragon,” Ed Libby, the designer who worked with Bellagio’s horticulture team on the display, said in a statement shared with Travel + Leisure.
More impressive than the numbers is the amount of symbolism tucked into every detail. On the west end of the conservatory is a 30-foot replica of the Temple of Six Banyan Trees, a Buddhist temple in Guangzhou, China. The replica has a dragon coming down from the puffy cloud skies displaying a pearl, believed to bring luck, prosperity, health, and strength.
The adjacent waterfall dancing over the mossy rocks represents a cleansing of the new year, while bronze ding pots show gratitude for the year gone by and hopefulness in carrying that spirit forward.
Finally, the starring attraction of the south end is children engaging in a dragon dance with a 44-foot dragon puppet, under a canopy of red silk for luck and firecrackers to ward off evil spirits. The lions on each side of the bridge provide a safe passage for the celebratory occasion, while the span itself represents unity and a connection between everyone.
With so many plants at the center of the display, sustainability is still top of mind for Bellagio’s team. Rain and recycled water is sourced from an underground well for use throughout the exhibit, and the plants without any viable life at the end of the exhibition are composted.
The display is available to visit for free 24 hours a day. Those who would like a more immersive experience can book a table to dine at The Garden Table inside the temple replica. On the menu are two prix fixes: an Eight Treasures dim sum platter lunch ($98 per person) or a Feast of Prosperity Dinner from the resort’s Pan-Asian restaurant Noodles ($139 per person). Reservations can be made online here or by calling 702-693-7317.
For those who can’t make it to Las Vegas, Bellagio has also released a special edition Prosperity Candle for the Year of the Dragon with scents of honeysuckle nectar, hyacinth, lemon, and orange blossom, which can be purchased through bellagioathome.com.
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