Behind the scenes of Philadelphia’s Chinese Lantern Festival

At the beginning of April, 30 artists from Tianyu Arts and Culture traveled from China to Philadelphia to create the attractions for this year’s Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square. Each year, more than 2,000 new lanterns are designed and created from scratch.

To begin the process, the designer used chalk to lay out two-dimensional renderings of the lanterns on steel plates. From there, a team of welders bent and shaped metal wires over the outlines to create the three-dimensional frames.

Next, electricians installed more than 20,000 LED lights, weaving them through the frames to create dramatic effects. Then the lanterns went to the artists, who stretched colorful silk fabric over the frames, bringing the lanterns to life. For a final touch, the designer returned to the lanterns to add painted details.

A team of 15 artists with a giant crane assembled the biggest lantern pieces, such as the palace centerpiece and the brand-new giant phoenix. Other artists began creating the various scenes throughout Franklin Square, from the beer garden, to the mini-golf course, to space behind the merry-go-round.

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Among the lantern scenes, Chinese artists sell their hand-crafted goods. Food vendors from Philadelphia’s best Chinese restaurants sell bites and drinks. Traditional Chinese dances and performance art takes place on a stage in the park each night.

The park is open to the public during the daytime, when the lanterns are on full display. But to see the true magnificence of these art pieces, come back during the light show from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. through June 30. Tickets are required and can be purchased at the 6th Street entrance or online.

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