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Year of the Dragon Ferris wheel lighting at the Santa Monica Pier

Published on January 30, 2024

The Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel will be lit red and gold on Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 11 to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

2024 is the Year of the Dragon. Pacific Park will join millions around the world in celebrating Lunar New Year. The Pacific Wheel will be lit red and gold and feature a green dragon design February 9 – 11.

Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year among East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities, among others. This special lighting event will take place on the evening of Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 11. The Ferris wheel lights can be seen from dusk until 11:35 PM each evening. Enjoy watching the light program online at

Special Lighting of the Pacific Wheel for Year of the Dragon

Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 11
dusk (around 5:30 PM) to midnight

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier

The dragon, also known as lóng (龙), is one of the twelve animals included in the Chinese zodiac and the Lunar New Year. It is also the only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac. It is a symbol of strength, good fortune, and imperial power. Those born in the year of the dragon are believed to have these characteristics along with intelligence, ambition, and charisma. Dragon years include 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, and so on. Some celebrities who are dragons include Rihanna, Shakira, and Adele.

The fable on why the dragon and the other animals included in the Chinese zodiac and Lunar New Year calendar mostly goes unknown. The story is based on Chinese mythology and folklore that involves the ruler of the heavens, the Jade Emperor, seeking twelve animals to be his guards & in the zodiac. A race was announced where all animals were invited to participate, however, only the first twelve animals to cross the finish line would be included and their placement would determine their placement in the zodiac and twelve-year cycle.

The race required all the animals to have to cross a river and the dragon was confident in its ability in getting first place. In the middle of the race, the dragon noticed a rabbit in danger. The rabbit was struggling to swim across. The dragon was too compassionate to let the rabbit struggle and knew it wanted to help. The dragon decided to fly towards the rabbit and blew a whisk of air to help it cross the river. Once the rabbit was secured, the dragon continued with the race and soared across the river.

Unfortunately for the dragon, the kindness towards the rabbit ended its chances of being first place as other animals had already crossed the finish line. The rat, who had hitched a ride on the kind ox’s back, cleverly leaped ahead and secured the first position. The dragon came after the rat, ox, tiger, and rabbit, earning fifth place.

Although the Jade Emperor was impressed by the dragon’s kind heart, he honored the order the animals arrived in. The dragon, along with the other eleven animals, was then awarded as one of the zodiac animals and represented the fifth year in the twelve-year zodiac cycle.

This story not only explains the animals position in the zodiac but also shows the personality traits passed on to those born on an animals’ year and sets the tone for the year to come. The dragon displayed kindness, empathy, and confidence. It’s presence in the Lunar New Year celebrations symbolizes not just power and strength but their spirit of compassion and goodwill.

See the lights from home at

Pacific Park regularly programs the Ferris wheel to display seasonal programing and themed light designs for holidays and special occasions. The Pacific Wheel’s state-of-the-art lighting package was installed in 2016 and can display over 1.6 million different colors and animate patterns and icons in 24 frames per second. The energy efficient LEDs on the face of the Ferris wheel are powered by solar arrays inside Pacific Park. The light programs are curated and designed by Pacific Park staff. Each design is manually animated; some designs can take hours of programming. The aim is to provide fun, high-energy, and sometimes whimsical designs to entertain guests on the Santa Monica Pier and surrounding beaches.


Feature image courtesy of @pacpark