Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival

If you’re in Philadelphia this spring check out these beautiful outdoor art displays of Chinese lanterns! There are 29 sets consisting of many different sculpture pieces; from the traditional Chinese hanging lanterns, to pandas, leopards, butterflies, and even the famous terra cotta army.


The big Chinese Archway marked the entrance to the park and festival, at the corners of Race and 6th Street.


Where & When:

The Chinese Lantern Festival is held at Franklin Square, Philadelphia. Located in the historic section of Philly, it’s just a block north from the Independence Visitor’s Center, and not too far of a walk from the bus station or center city. The dates are different every year, but for 2017 when I took these pictures it was from May 9th to June 11th, 2017.


Hours & Ticket Cost:

It’s open for free during the day time till 5pm, but in the evenings from 6:30-10pm(Sunday-Thursday) or 6:30-11pm(Friday-Saturday) it costs $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and military, and $12 for children to get in. At night the sculptures are all lit up with thousands of LED lights, and there are various live performances going on and authentic food vendors to choose from. More information can be found on the official website.


The displays were pretty big. The only unfortunate thing was they all had those ugly yellow ropes around them, so kinda hard to get a nice picture at times. This was the Terra Cotta Army.

The pig from the Chinese Zodiac display. They made them all cute cartoonish animals.


When I got there it was day time, so I wandered around and took a bunch of pictures of all the displays. They were all so vibrant and colorful, it was hard to pick a favorite! Each display had a small sign explaining what it was and the meaning behind it.




This was part of the owl display.


The sign said this was the leopard display, but they looked like cheetahs to me.



I loved these hanging lanterns that you walked underneath. Must be beautiful lit up at night!


 A little history on Chinese Lantern Festivals:

In Chinese, it’s known as the “Yuan Xiao Festival”, which comes from the food yuanxiao, which are rice balls with various fillings that people eat on that day. The festival is traditionally held on the 15th day of the 1st month in the Chinese Calendar, that falls around February-March, and marks the end of the Chinese New Year. It had its start back in the Han Dynasty(206 B.C.), with the construction of the lanterns being quite simple unless you were very wealthy. The traditional color for the lanterns, red, symbolizes luck and good fortune, and often times the lanterns would have riddles on them for people to solve.


I caught this photo of a couple walking together through the festival. The woman’s jacket matched these lanterns perfectly!


I probably spent about an hour walking around and taking pictures during the weekday afternoon I was there. There were only a few people here and there doing the same, so luckily it wasn’t crowded at all. I’d love to go to China one day, but till then it’s awesome that there are events and festivals like this to get a little taste of the country. If you’d like to see more photos, check out my gallery album on flickr!




  1. I love all the colours of the lanterns. I bet it looks quite magical at night when they are all lit up. Though I don’t know if I would pay the $17 to see it, so it’s nice that it’s free during the day.

    1. Yeah same here, it seems expensive to me. Although the lanterns are actually all hand made. So if the money goes back to the artisans who made them, I would feel it’s worth it. And if you’re into cultural dances and shows and are looking for something to do after dinner–or for dinner as they do have food there too- it might be worth it too 🙂

  2. This festival looks like great fun. It is so nice to see another culture being celebrated somewhere. I have a friend coming to Philly so I will mention to him to check it out and get some snaps!

  3. Very colorful and lighthearted. If I were in Philly this would be a great date night. This time of year is a great time to travel and could schedule a trip to Philadelphia around it.

  4. I absolutely loved all the pictures in your post particularly the colourful lanterns and the cute pandas. I wish something like this happened in India. I liked the concept of having riddles on the lanterns for people to solve it!

    1. Me too, I think that would be really fun to solve puzzles! They didn’t have anything like that there though that I’m aware of, unless at night time perhaps.

  5. I’m SO glad I read your post, I’m actually heading to Philadelphia tomorrow! Definitely checking out this festival since I missed out on it last year. Good to know that it’s free during the daytime and not at night. Thanks for all the information and great pictures! 🙂

  6. The pandas are so cute!!! I think they are my fave. Great photos! And I didn’t know why lanterns were red or that they sometimes had riddles on them so thanks for including a bit of background 🙂

    1. No I’ve never been to Thailand. Floating lanterns sounds so pretty! I’ll have to find out when it’s going on if I ever go, maybe one day 🙂

  7. I lived in PA and heard about this festival from friends. I wish I could have made it as the lanterns look so delicate/beautiful!

    1. Ah well I hope they’ll keep doing this every year, so maybe you’ll get to see it there sometime, you never know!

  8. I went to something similar in Auckland, NZ in 2015. It was free in the evening luckily so we got to see them in all their glory! I adore the little piggy- so cute!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *