To celebrate the new Chinese Year of the Monkey, we visited the UK’s first Magical Lantern Festival…
Don’t let the typical February weather put you off visiting this spectacular outdoor show (wind and rain made an unwelcome appearance the evening we visited – just wrap up warm and take waterproofs!). The Magical Lantern Festival, making its UK debut at Chiswick House in west London, is a sight to behold, offering enough ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ moments to warm the most jaded of hearts.
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The festival is essentially a 1hr+ trail around the grand Chiswick House gardens to view around 50 amazing and beautiful lantern displays. Don’t just think pretty lights – these are intricate and often HUGE sculptures of flowers, animals, birds and temples.
Highlights included the cute pandas, sparkling jellyfish, giant flowers, flocks of flamingoes, a life-sized African safari, and a 60m long Chinese dragon! There are super-sized light sculptures of giraffes, zebra, monkeys and antelope; giant goldfish, Oriental ducks and frogs on lily pads; decorated swans, peacocks and elephants; cute renderings of the Chinese zodiac characters; a ‘terracotta army’; even a marching band of ants.
Good use is made of the grand setting with illuminations floating on the lake, dotted around the trees and set against the Palladian architecture of Chiswick House. (click on our galleries for more pictures from the festival)
Food & Drink
There are a smattering of street food stalls selling warming churros, toast-your-own marshmallows, satay, African curries and venison burgers. All good stuff but not a cornucopia of food and drink that you’d expect at a festival (or an abundance of Chinese goodies we were craving!) – it’s good enough for grabbing a bite to eat at the beginning or end of the trail.
All-in-all, this inaugural festival has enough surprising and intriguing sights to make it a very en-light-ening experience (sorry…).
Visitor info: The Magical Lantern Festival runs until Sunday 6th March 2016, starting at 5pm each day. Tickets are around £16 per person (click here to purchase). Find the festival at Chiswick House and Gardens, London W4 2RP.
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