Looking for something new and exciting to do this week?  There’s still time to check out the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square, which runs through July 8th. This festival is amazing!  I can’t get over the colors of the lanterns and how spectacular they are!  What a fun way to spend the evening together as a family!

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The giant 200-foot Chinese Dragon at the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square. All photos by Jeff Fusco for Tianyu

The spectacular Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square is a celebration of light and culture that features artisans from China creating magnificent steel-framed and silk-wrapped giant lighted sculptures, using traditional Chinese
methods. Franklin Square will glow with 28 larger-than-life illuminated groupings of 1,500 individual works of art with more than 15,000 LED lights in brilliant colors. The 200-foot giant fan favorite Chinese Dragon and beloved pandas return, but all other creations will be new for the 2018 Festival. New technology and engineering will be utilized to bring an endangered species gallery to life for the first time in the United States. Other highlights include celebrating the Year of the Dog, tropical birds and fish, mythological animals, the world premiere of a new Fairy Tree, a walk-through Great White Shark Tunnel, and an interactive elephant lantern where visitors pedal a bicycle to change its colors. The lanterns are placed all around the Square, and guests walk among the displays each evening.

In addition to the gorgeous light installations, festival-goers will witness authentic cultural performances that are all new for 2018 including the unusual and impressive art of face-changing and a variety of different Chinese acrobatic acts. Visitors can taste Asian cuisine and American favorites, drink a toast at the Dragon Beer Garden,open nightly, and shop for Chinese folk artists’ crafts created on site. Guests will still be able to play Philly Mini Golf, ride the Parx Liberty Carousel (additional tickets required for both), and enjoy Center City’s best play place. The lanterns are able to be viewed for free during daylight hours, while a ticket is required for nighttime entrance. A special video on the heritage of the Chinese lantern tradition and how they are created will be shown at the Festival.

There is so much to see and do at the festival–look at these options:

Performances: Acrobats from China perform incredible and impressive feats of strength, balance, agility, and flexibility. In addition to various fitness and artistic skills, some acrobats use special equipment such as long poles, barrels, balls, buckets, and porcelain bowls. There will be 30-minute performances each night of the Festival (Mondays – Thursdays will each have two performances at 8 and 9:30 pm. Fridays – Sundays will have three performances at 7:30, 9, and 10:30 pm.). The acrobats visiting from China are Aibi Chen, Yuhan Song, Lun Huang, Xiaoqi Zeng, Xiaoqin Tang, Shihui Wang. Performances are free with Festival admission. All performers are subject to change.

  • Face-Changing – An ancient Chinese dramatic art where a performer changes masks quicker than you can blink in this 300-year tradition of the Sichuan opera. The mystery is if the audience can notice the moment he changes his mask.
  • Plate Spinning – A traditional Chinese acrobatic performance where a person spins plates, bowls, and other flat objects on 3-foot bamboo poles, without dropping anything. The spinning plates resemble lotus leaves in the breeze and butterflies flying among flowers.
  • Feet Juggling: This feat shows a performer rolling and juggling porcelain bowls, equipment, or other performers with his or her feet.
  • Water-Spinning: A glass bowl with water is tied on each end of a colorful string,which the performers spin carefully without spilling a drop.
  • Contortion – Contortionists showcase their skills of extreme physical flexibility within a narrow barrel accompanied by music or balancing ornamental lights on their feet, hands, and face as they twist and turn and stretch toward the sky.
  • Jar-Juggling – Different kinds of porcelain jars are rolled by the performer’s head, hands, feet, and arms.

Chinese Folk Artists:

  • Aluminum Wire Weaving – One of the exquisite handicrafts in China, aluminum wire weaving is popular in the provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou, Hubei and Jiang Nan. It is artistic weaving with aluminum materials, creating various characters like peacock, dragon, or even a bicycle.
  • Paper Cutting (Jianzhi) – A traditional style of papercutting in China originated from cutting patterns for rich Chinese embroideries and later developed into a folk art. Jianzhi has been practiced in China since at least the 6th Century AD. Jianzhi has a number of distinct uses in Chinese culture, almost all of which are for health, prosperity, or decorative purposes. Red is the most commonly used color. Jianzhi cuttings often have a heavy emphasis on Chinese characters symbolizing the Chinese zodiac animals. Although paper cutting is popular around the globe, only the Chinese paper cut was listed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, in 2009. The Chinese paper-cutting was recognized and listed because it has a history of more than 1500 years and it represents cultural values of the people throughout China.
  • Crystal Engraving – The artist uses a special electric carving pen to carve out names, wishes, mottos, or images on crystal material, and then color it and make it into pendants, cell phone pendant, or bracelet.
  • Name Painting – In ancient times, it was believed that having one’s name painted in animals brought good luck, and it is tradition to give such a gift on special occasions like a new birth. Calligraphers base their alphabet on Chinese symbols or brush art, representing such cultural images as dragons, mountains, birds, flowers, and pandas to spell out a name.
  • Flute Making – An artist creates hand-made flutes from bamboo.
  • Inner Bottle Painting – A Chinese art form where artists paint images andcalligraphy on the inside surface of glass bottles using a specialized paint brush through the neck of the bottle. A traditional craft, Inner Bottle Painting was often created on snuff bottles. Artists paint a design on the inside of a small bottle of crystal or amber glass with slim brushes. The glass must be of high quality for the painting to be successful.
  • Sugar Painting – Sugar Painting is one of folk arts of the people of Han. Crafters use only melted sugar and a spoon to create intricate designs in the traditional style on a stone board and mount it on a bamboo stick. Small pieces of art depicting dragons, butterflies and the like are made on site, entirely out of molten sugar.

What a fun night out for the family!  Here’s more about the festival.  You can visit their website for to get your own tickets.

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Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square 
6th and Race Streets
May 1 – June 30, 2018, EXTENDED THROUGH JULY 8, 2018, 7 – 11 pm, daily; opens at 6 pm Fridays and Saturdays

Franklin Square will be open during regular daytime hours. The Franklin Square Playground will continue to be open and free during the evening hours, accessible from 7th Street. After 7 pm, the Festival requires tickets for entry, which are $18 adults, $12 children ages 17 and under, and $15 senior and active military (taxes and fees included). Group prices for 20 or more people are $15 adults, $11 children ages 17 and under and must be purchased in advance. Tickets will be general admission Sunday – Thursday, and timed tickets will be required for Friday and Saturday nights. Advance tickets are strongly recommended. To book a group, call 215-629-5801 x209.

 

Visitors are encouraged to park at PPA AutoPark @ Independence Mall, located between 5th and 6th streets and Market and Arch streets (directly underneath the Independence Visitor Center). Sunday – Thursday, parking is a flat rate of $8 (with a $2 discount) if you show your Lantern Festival ticket at the garage office (located on level P1, at the exit plaza). Guests must enter the parking lot after 5 pm and exit before 3 am to receive the discount—if entry and exit time is outside of those parameters, guests must pay normal lot rates. Fridays and Saturdays, parking is a flat rate of $7.