Behind the Scenes: How Tianyu Creates Chinese Lantern Festivals at Zoos, Aquariums, Parks, and Botanical Gardens

Every Tianyu Lantern Festival is unique. You can follow our festivals around the country like you’d follow your favorite band, or visit every baseball stadium, exploring and engaging with the details that make each event so memorable.

The zoos, aquariums, city parks, and botanical gardens that we partner with have their own unique needs, and we work closely with them to develop innovative solutions, including building larger-than-life lanterns on water and producing ticketed events in public spaces.

As the largest Chinese lantern festival producer in North America — and one of the first to bring authentic Chinese Lantern traditions to the United States and Europe — our operational expertise and flexibility is what allows us to successfully create interactive experiences that are specifically designed for each venue.


Many venues have natural features that could pose as problems for inexperienced lantern festival production companies.

Our partners at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia, California, and the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden in Sanford, Florida, for example, have large bodies of water within the lantern festival footprint.

With our 20-plus years of experience, we created innovative ways for our lanterns to look like they are floating on water! For the Los Angeles County Arboretum, 23 of our artisans created a 22 foot-high, 2.5-ton dragon lantern comprised of eight pieces, including the massive head.

The natural features of the Baldwin Lake at the L.A. Arboretum presented variables the Tianyu team had to take into account, including unstable weather and soft ground. Setup involved the typical steps to creating a lantern — modeling and assembling the steel frames, gluing colorful fabrics, painting details like dragon scales— in addition to the creation of an above-water platform where the lantern pieces would be placed and fully assembled.

At the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden, our two 10-foot-tall swans appeared to float on the water in Dragonfly Pond after our artisans engineered a frame, installed it in the center of the pond, and made the final adjustments from a canoe!

Our artisans successfully completed the on-water dragon lantern and the majestic swan lanterns — both crowd favorites — that resulted in stunning, highly Instagrammable experiences.

Two 10-foot-tall swan lanterns on the water at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Garden festival


A number of our lantern festivals and light events take place in public spaces, so we have to create ticketed experiences for attendees to enter at night, while still allowing residents and visitors to enjoy the public spaces they love with minimal interruptions.

Historic Philadelphia, Inc., has been a partner of ours for the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival, which takes place in Franklin Square, one of the city’s original five squares. The Square features a playground, carousel, mini golf course, and a historic fountain, and it required a unique solution so that the Square could remain open during the day for visitors to enjoy these amenities.

We gave the venue flexibility to develop a moveable scrim fence that featured lantern facts on it. Sections were removed during the day, and they slid back into place at night — an approach that allowed the public to see Tianyu artisans working as they set up the festival during the day, creating must-see events before the festival even began — including the placing of the head of our dragon lantern using a crane!

Another can’t-be-missed moment during festival preparation is the setting up of the beautiful Welcome Gate at the entrance, which requires a forklift and a crane. We block out a safety area, but visitors can see how several pieces assembled on the ground rise to become the towering illuminating lanterns they see at night!


Visitors are able to watch the whole process of bringing a lantern festival to life, from the designers drawing full-size plans on the ground, to the electricians installing light bulbs. Our talented artisans complete the creations by gluing colorful fabrics over the steel lantern frames, and then by painting all of the minute details on the lanterns.

Our expertise, standards, and safety record are unparalleled, and still we challenge ourselves to create the next innovative festival experiences in zoos, botanical gardens, fairgrounds, and other venues around the world.

We hope you enjoyed this look at the making of Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc., Lantern Festivals. If you would like to learn more, contact our professional planners for a customized plan to help your organization attract new customers and advance its institutional mission.