In Photos: Philly’s Chinese Lantern Festival 2016

If there are three things I’m good at it’s locating the nearest Chinatown in a big city, sniffing out Asian cultural events and meetups, and being a human GPS for the closest bubble tea shop. Within the first few hours of arriving in Philly, I accomplished all of these things.

Earlier this month, I spent a long weekend in Philly to participate in a travel blogging workshop called BlogHouse where I got to work with and learn from fellow travel bloggers and mentors on how to improve my blog, online presence, and brand. I don’t talk about travel blogging on here, and I’m not going to start today. Instead, I’m going to share a few photos with you from Philadelphia’s first ever Chinese Lantern Festival, an event to celebrate Franklin Square’s 10th birthday. Just to give you some context, Franklin Square is an urban green space in the city designed by William Penn and is equipped with a putt-putt golf course, carousel for the kiddies and kidults, playground, and outdoor eating areas with picnic tables.

The festival featured dozens of lanterns some with great significance to Chinese culture as well as booths with local craftsmen and artists from China selling unique souvenirs. On that note, enjoy these photos from Philly’s Chinese Lantern Festival, and be sure to read to the end for a giveaway and bubble tea recommendation!

Dragon Lantern

The dragon has been a longstanding spiritual symbol of China. This magnificent creature is an omen for good luck with powers to bring rain and floods to a land in need. It’s also a symbol for power, strength, and good luck. So it’s no surprise that this 200 foot long dragon lantern was the grandest of them all at the festival.


Flamingos don’t hold much importance in Chinese culture, BUT the red-crowned crane is usually connected with immortality or longevity.

Tree Lantern Philly Chinese Lantern Festival

According to Wikipedia, “in traditional Chinese culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity, and are frequently featured in Chinese art.” The mandarin ducks coupled with trees of lotus flowers, a symbol for happiness or a happy life, makes for a display with an explosion of color and life.

Lantern Pagoda

The icon of Asian culture is the traditional three-story pagoda. Pagoda actually means tomb in Sanskrit, and it’s said that these beautiful structures were originally built for preserving the remains of the founder of Buddhism, Sakyamuni.

Zebras and Giraffes Chinese Lantern Festival

The zebras and giraffes were purely for the kids, but here’s a personal fun fact. In high school, on an extra-curricular activity admission form, there was a question that asked what kind of animal I’d like to be. I wrote giraffe because they’re so majestic and stand taller than the all the rest of the animals. What animal would you like to be?

XOXO Philly

Throughout the city, you’ll find a bunch of these XOXO sculptures that make for popular photo spots and are part of Philly’s “With Love” brand. Philly is the city of brotherly love after all. Visitors weren’t allowed to take photos with the XOXO lantern, but it is neat to see love lit up.

Kissing Swans

On point with Philly’s “With Love” theme, kissing swans seems only fitting in addition to being a symbol for beauty and grace.

Flower Trail

Imagine having this sea of flowers as your wedding dress train. Heavy, yes, but stunning.

Penguin Lantern Selfie

Finishing it all off with a fun penguin lantern selfie. They’re so cute!

Tim Burton Rose Tree Card Philly Lantern Festival

Paper cutout popup card with a Tim Burton-esque rose tree.

Cherry Blossom Tree Card Philly Lantern Festival

Paper cutout popup card with a cherry blossom tree.

Philly Postcard

With Love from Philly postcard

At the festival, I picked up 2 greeting cards with popup paper cutouts, one with a cherry blossom tree and the other with a Tim Burton-esque rose tree as well as a postcard from the One Liberty Observation Deck gift shop. On June 30, I’ll select and notify 3 random winners, write a personal message in each card, and send them your way.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Sonesta Philly for hosting all the BlogHouse bloggers at your beautiful hotel and to Visit Philly and Context Travel for coming to talk to us about working with PR/DMOs and giving us itinerary and food recommendations. As always, all opinions are my own.

BUBBLE TEA: When you find yourself wandering around Philly’s Chinatown, get some bubble tea at Tea-do. I knew this place was good based on the line out the door. If you’re new to bubble tea, the Japanese green tea milk tea with tapioca pearls is a standard favorite.


  1. Hi Kimi! I’m glad you posted these photos as I didn’t get a chance to see the Lantern Festival. I’ll check out Chinatown and get some bubble tea next time I visit!

    1. Yes, definitely do. I didn’t visit Chinatown my first time in Philly so it was cool to see it this time around, I have more of an appreciation for it now. Safe travels and hopefully our paths cross again soon!

  2. Ooops, should have read the whole contest entry first. 🙂 My name is Marie-France, I live in Toronto, and my favourite food is green chicken curry (pretty much anything Thai really).

  3. So sad I missed this in our short time there. Do you know if they have it every year? – maybe a reason to go back next summer. And will def. take the bubble tea rec – I love it! Thanks for joining us at Bloghouse – loved meeting you!

    1. They may have it every year going forward, but I know this was their first ever Chinese Lantern Festival, a special occasion to celebrate the birthday of Franklin Sq. Loved meeting you and everyone at BlogHouse as well. I need a round 2 follow up because I feel like there’s so much more I want to learn and implement. Safe travels. Been loving your New England cruise video updates on FB!

      1. Your right – we should have a round 2! 🙂 Let me know if you ever need assistance! And thanks for watching the FB videos…videos certainly aren’t my strong point…especially live ones! But I find them sort of fun to do. This way I don’t have to worry about editing them either!

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