If you’re in Philadelphia in May or June check out these beautiful outdoor art displays of Chinese lanterns! There beautiful sets consisting of many different sculpture pieces; from the traditional Chinese hanging lanterns, to pandas, leopards, butterflies, and even the famous Terra Cotta army.
Festival Dates and Location
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 the 2018 season it’s held between May 1st and June 30th.
*In 2017 when I took these pictures it was from May 9th to June 11th.
Hours & Ticket Cost
It’s open for free during the day time till 5 or 6pm, but in the evenings from 7-11pm(Sunday-Thursday) or 6-11pm(Friday-Saturday) it costs $18 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.
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.
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 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!