STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Lights, culture, a 10th anniversary …
Franklin Square marks a decade of being a Center City play place with something that reportedly is a first-of-its-kind Chinese Lantern Festival in the Northeast.
A celebration of light and culture running through June 12, the Historic Philadelphia square will glow with more than 25 illuminated displays — created using traditional Chinese methods, and with thousands of colored LED lights — of giant flowers, a three-story pagoda, a Chinese dragon, pandas (a symbol of friendship and peace in China) and more.
What about the culture part?
That includes daily performances and crafts by working artists. Acrobats and a “face-changing” multiple-mask performer in the 300-year tradition of Sichuan opera just joined the lineup May 3. Live entertainment also includes Chinese dance.
Here’s a sneak peek at the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival.
Video courtesy of Relief Communications, LLC
Family activities include:
Papermaking: The modern papermaking process was invented in 105 AD by Cai Lun during the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Sugar painting: A painter armed with only a spoon drizzles hot sugar into edible shapes and patterns.
Palm leaf weaving: Chinese artisans have used palm fibers for weaving products for many centuries.
Toy figuring: This traditional folk art involves dyed sticky rice powder.
Shu embroidery: A specialty of the , satin and silk are used to create works of art.
Ocarina playing: The wind instrument that has been a part of song and dance for more than 12,000 years.
Can we sit to view the performances?
There will be limited seating available in front of the main stage.
Where the heck is Franklin Square?
Sixth and Race streets, Philadelphia. By the way, it’s only a few blocks from Chinatown.
When is the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival open?
From 6 to 10 p.m. daily, till 11 Friday and Saturday nights.
What is there to eat there?
SquareBurger has shakes, burgers, breakfast items, vegetarian options and favorites such as cheesesteak fries and mac and cheese. One of the signature items is the Cake Shake, blended with Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets. There will also be a beer garden.
Where can we park?
There’s PPA AutoPark at Independence Mall, between Fifth and Sixth streets and Market and Arch streets (directly underneath the Independence Visitor Center). Sundays through Thursdays, parking is a flat rate of $7.50, with a $2 discount if you show your Lantern Festival ticket at the garage office (located on level P1 at the exit plaza). Fridays and Saturdays, parking is a flat rate of $5.
Will we need tickets?
After 6 p.m. during the festival, they are $17, $12 for children 17 and under, $15 for seniors and active military. Group prices for 20 or more people are $15, $11 for children 17 and under. Tickets are general admission Sunday through Thursday, and timed tickets on Friday and Saturday nights. Advance tickets are strongly recommended. To book a group, call (215) 429-6801, ext. 209.
What’s the deal with Franklin Square?
It’s one of the city’s original five public squares. During the day, it’s open for free, with a carousel, a mini-golf course and a playground. Franklin Square is an initiative of Historic Philadelphia Inc. Historic Philadelphia’s programs include the Betsy Ross House and “Once Upon A Nation” storytelling and immersive walking tours aimed at make our nation’s history relevant and relatable through interpretation, interaction and education. For more information, call (215) 629-4026 or visit www.historicphiladelphia.org. See also twitter.com/FranklinSqr, http://on.fb.me/FranklinSquare, or on Instagram instagram.com/historicphilly.