Like the Philly Flower Show I attended last weekend, this event had signature cocktails (the Green Tea Cocktail was divine!) and you are allowed to walk around with your open container like you are, in fact, at Epcot in Disney World, while your children complain, laugh with joy, ask for money and demand novelty drinks. Of course, you give them whatever they want because you are just happy to have a cocktail and that all the other parents around are dealing with the same nonsense.
Children are very expensive and prickly.
Anyway, back to the festival! There are so many 'Gram worthy spots, including gorgeous rainbow angel wings and several lit and flowered walk-through tunnels. There are also so many light-up pandas that it is, indeed, pandaemonium. And of course, there is a pagoda and endless, gorgeous light-up sea creatures, lotus flowers and water lilies.
Since it is in Franklin Square, you also have access to that fun stuff--the Philly themed carousel and Philly mini-golf. We enjoyed the carousel (tickets are discounted with Lantern Festival admission, so $2.50 a person) and we avoided the mini-golf, ignoring the demands and whines of our children who wanted to spend $70 playing 3 hours of mini-golf.
Note: ALWAYS AVOID THE MINI-GOLF when there are other things to do. I cannot think of anything more maddening than being trapped on a mini-golf course when you could be banging the gong and making things light up or dancing!
Which brings me to the other fabulous thing at the Lantern Festival: the center fountain at Franklin Square has a themed water and light show throughout the night. It's awesome and there are plenty of benches surrounding the fountain to sit, relax and sip your $12 pineapple smoothie (which comes in an actual pineapple). Insider tip: after dark, keep your feet off the ground to avoid giant "night chipmunks."
Note: Night chipmunks are actually rats. But we don't EVER TALK ABOUT RATS! We just try to enjoy the city, ignoring some of the furry inhabitants that carry the plague!
We stayed for about 2. 5 hours and I think that was just the right amount of time to drink, eat, shop, photograph, watch, dance and enjoy the Festival! Parking was okay. We parked a few blocks away at the Independence Visitor Center garage. The walk back felt very long and a bit lonely. However, our group of 7 was very loud so all rats and robbers steered clear (as they should!).
The best part, however, was spending time with my childhood best friend Karen and her youngest son Matthew. It's still crazy to me that we met in junior high and somehow now we've got all these children and all these gray hairs and also a variety of chronic medical conditions. She lives in very hot Atlanta (Hotlanta) and we don't see each other enough; so the times together are special!