Winter Lantern Festival Review

By Gianna Abruzzo, Creator, Our Play Patches November 28, 2022

Here’s motivation to get your kids outside for a walk on a cold, winter night: hundreds of large-than-life and colorful animals, mythical creatures, and cute characters lighting up your way. My family (daughters ages 8, 10, and 13) visited the Winter Lantern Festival - Illuminate the Farm at the Queens County Farm, located about 40 minutes by car from Lower Manhattan.    

We spent about a half hour walking the paths around the farm’s six acres and taking a closer look at the various scenes. The Chinese lanterns (lit by LED lights) are shaped as sculptures of many kinds. Some of what we saw: farm animals and wild animals, a field of giant snails, a fiery dragon, an underwater mermaid scene, and a huge mustachioed tree with blinking eyes. My daughters recognized some popular cartoon characters and according to the organizers, some of the lanterns are inspired by Chinese myths and legends.

We received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. I was not compensated in any other manner - all opinions expressed in this article are my own.

Younger children seemed excited and mesmerized as they walked by and stood next to the larger-than-life creatures. Adults and older kids attempted to take lots of selfies (not easy when the light source is behind you; the Festival FAQs share tips on how to do it best).

After viewing the lanterns, we spent a few minutes playing on lighted seesaws and swings. We also watched a brief “Magic Show and Face Changing,” where an actor dressed in traditional Chinese costume used theatrical gestures to magically swap out a new mask on his face every few seconds. From an internet search, we learned this is an ancient dramatic art of the Sichuan opera, and that the techniques are family secrets. Though no information was provided on-site, we would have also appreciated learning about the history and artisanship of Chinese lanterns as well as the myths and legends that some of the lanterns represent. We believe this would have added value to the experience.

For sale were hot drinks and a few pre-made food options, including dumplings, hotdogs, and taquitos. A food truck was not open when we visited. There were many plastic, light-up toys available to purchase as well as a branded “Wish Jar,” a glass star-shaped jar that can be purchased with or without tiny handmade paper stars inside. Parking is convenient and free. There are a few porta-potties, which did not seem well-lit.  

The Lantern Festival also has a location on Staten Island near the ferry, and two sites on Long Island. The Queens site is open Friday – Sunday evenings through January 8, with an extended holiday week schedule.  Admission (including taxes and fees) is $28.99 adult, $19.99 children (3-12).  A 30% discount is available through Macaroni KID!

30% Discount on NYC Winter Lantern Festival


Gianna Abruzzo is a Brooklyn-born mom of three daughters living in Lower Manhattan. You can find her family downtown and around town, exploring new playgrounds, treat spots, and NYC’s diverse arts and culture.