6abc Loves the Arts: Last call for Franklin Square's Chinese Lantern Festival

If you haven't been to the Chinese Lantern Festival, time is running out.

The festival, now in its third year, lights up Franklin Square when the sun goes down. This year there are 28 all new handcrafted lantern sculptures.

"Every lantern that is here is built specifically for Philadelphia," says Amy Needle, President and CEO of Historic Philadelphia, Inc.

Many are making their North American debut, with the artists using new crafting techniques and new LED lighting technology.

"We have new this year some endangered creature species, including this amazing frog, some penguins," Needle says.

There's also a great white shark you can walk through and a magical wish tree.

"I mean it looks right out of Avatar, doesn't it? It's pretty amazing," Needle says.

There's a new dragon, this year too -- a 200-foot long beacon for drivers crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge from New Jersey.

"He is the length of three school busses," Needle says. "They had to have a crane put his head on."

There's a new food menu and new performing and folk artists demonstrating everything from lantern and fan painting to card cutting and face changing.

"It's sort of a variety show, a mix of all the different performers they've brought (in) from China. For me, the highlight is going to be the face changer," Needle says. "It's sort of like a magical dance, acrobatic performance."

The Chinese lanterns date back centuries when, legend holds, that the emperor was enraged that villagers had hunted and killed his pet crane.

"So the emperor was going to destroy the village," Needle explains.

A wise man recommended lighting lanterns to make it look like the village was already ablaze. The plan worked and a tradition was born, creating what Needle calls a great way to spend a warm evening with your family and friends.

Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square
200 N 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Chinese Lantern Festival | Event info
Lanterns are on display nightly through July 8.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.