Happy Lantern Festival 2011 from Tianjin, China!

Last night was The Lantern Festival 元宵节, the final night of Spring Festival 春节 and that means the last night of fireworks(!), so this morning it’s finally all quiet on the eastern front.

We joined the happy crowds last night on Tianjin’s frozen Haihe river æµ·æ²³ near Ancient Culture Street 古文化街 and launched a couple “wish lanterns” 许愿灯 (usually called 孔明灯) — the candle-powered sky lanterns you’ve probably seen pictures of.

These pictures aren’t great, but it was actually a pretty fun scene. Hundreds, maybe thousands of lanterns were floating around, fireworks up and down the river, lots of people having fun, etc.

Ok, the pictures really aren’t that great, but all those little dots in the sky are lanterns. It looked cool, I promise. Just look at the photos and use your imagination.

You can actually see it better in the video clip below.

Some of the flaming lanterns got stuck in trees, and every so often one would come hurtling down to the ice in a blazing arc of glory. We even launched a couple:

These were the only lanterns to be found at Tianjin’s Ancient Culture Street 古文化街,which was a bit of a disappointment considering it was the LANTERN Festival, but it was still fun to launch fire hazards into the night sky from down on the river. We’ll definitely do this again next time we get the chance!

You can browse the rest of our Spring Festival fun here.

7 thoughts on “Happy Lantern Festival 2011 from Tianjin, China!”

  1. I thought it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The Water Park was also very nice — we could see up to 11 displays at once. Thanks to you and your students for the good advice….

  2. I agree, the sky lanterns were really cool — definitely doing that again!

    Where in the Water Park were you? We went there but it looked all dark and people were coming out saying there was nothing there. Are you sure it was the 水上公园 shuǐshàng gōngyuán?

  3. Nice pictures those, although lanterns just spots in photos. Here in Malaysia, the practice of releasing what we call wish lanterns is only now catching on in some places, and still something very new to Malaysians.

  4. We are expats in Teda, and this is our first time in China for the Chinese New Year. We had found your video of the lantern festival before moving here last year, and I have wanted to see this ever since. Few people here in Teda seem to know where to find this festival in Tianjin. Can you help us out? We look forward to seeing it Monday!!!

  5. Hi Rachel! These photos and video were taken on the Haihe River (æµ·æ²³ HÇŽi​hé) near Ancient Culture Street (古文化街 gÇ” wén​huà jiÄ“). You’ll have to come into downtown Tianjin from TEDA to find it. It spanned a large stretch of the river; you wouldn’t ahve been able to miss it if you walked out of Ancient Culture Steret toward the river.

    Oddly, Ancient Culture Street was closed that night — no shops open, not even any lights on — but it was still packed shoulder to shoulder full of people (who I guess were as surprised as we were that there wasn’t anything going on). There were still thousands of people out, walking around, and setting off firecrackers and paper lanterns at and on the river. However, it was all sort of “unofficial”; the paper lanterns were sold by technically illegal street vendors and nothing appeared to be organized or hosted by the city. Aside from one little display of lanterns what we took pictures by, there was nothing set up to celebrate the day (I think we originally went to the Water Park, on rumours that there would be a celebration organized there, but it was dark and full of people wandering around wondering where the party was.)

    All that to say, the celebration didn’t seem to have the backing of the city authorities (what’s wrong with launching thousands of firey paper lanterns in a windy, dry city??? :) ), so there’s no telling what will happen this year. Maybe they’ll tolerate the same unofficial celebrations, or do something official, or crack down on the lantern sellers. I guess you’ll have to go and find out!

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