On what would have been a pretty dark, bleak blue January, London has had it pretty good when it comes to combatting the bleak blue of January with so many events to look forward to.
Light and art go perfectly. Having been mesmerised by the gorgeous lights in Canary Wharf, next on my list was the Magical Lantern Festival. Fair to say, I was pretty excited.
In a nutshell, The Magical Lantern Festival is a series of beautifully crafted lanterns Chiswick House and Garden. Now in it’s the second year, the Magical Lantern Festival is a spectacular fusion of art, culture and heritage, and the perfect way to kick-start the Chinese New Year celebrations, which actually takes place this weekend!
I knew it was going to be unforgivably cold. But that was never going to deter me from my pilgrimage to Chiswick in West London. Being the intrepid (and sometimes reckless) explorer that I am, I set off from East to West, excited at the prospect of capturing some gorgeous pictures. I’m glad to say, I was not disappointed.
This year’s theme encourages other explorers to ‘Explore The Silk Road’, a significant route to trade and culture between China and the West. I was surrounded by incredible life-sized and oversized lanterns which represent scenes along the Silk Road. You’d be mistaken, as I was, for thinking it would all be Chinese art and heritage. From the beginning, you’re greeted with this 15-metre long lantern sculpture of the Houses of Parliament before proceeding along The Silk Road to find other more recognisable landmarks from around the world including the Eiffel Tower.
Unlike the Winter Lights in Canary Wharf, you’re guided along a pre-determined path around Chiswick Gardens which means you don’t miss any of the stunning lantern sculptures.
But unlike the Winter Lights, it’s also a ticketed event. Sad face. Unless you’re a luckier than an Irishman and eligible for a concession price, you may have to fork out up to £18 of your hard-earned cash. Yes, I felt the pain too. But as a regular reader of Timeout, I stumbled upon a deal where you can save up to 32% of tickets prices via Timeout. Win win!
The organisers promised it would be bigger and better than last year. Painful for me to say, I didn’t feel it was. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I loved it and enjoyed it just as much as last year. This time, there were refreshments and hot sweet treats halfway through the trail to keep you warm. Toasted marshmallows for the win
At the end of the trail, fighting back the cold, nursing my tired feet dazzled by the lights and pleased ith the photos I managed to capture, I appreciated the mini amusement park where bars and hot food stalls waited patiently to warm me up. This certainly wasn’t around last year.
Walking around the ice rink and VR experience hut, I spotted the Eis Hause ‘Ice Bar’. ‘Cool’ as may sound, I wasn’t sure if stepping into a freezer was the best idea especially given how cold it already was outside Against my better judgement, my curiosity got the better of me, and I stepped inside to see. I felt slightly apprehensive when I was offered what looked like some sort of spacesuit to protect myself. Really?! Is it safe in there?! It was indeed very cold with temperatures dropping to as low as -9 degree but it was very cool. Shot glasses carved from ice, a giant ice sculpture of a polar bear and an ice throne to rival even the Iron Throne.
The festival will around for some time and the last day to see these beautifully crafted lanterns is the 26th February. It’s a great family day out.
Have you seen the bright lights of the Magical Lantern Festival? How did you find it? I’d love to see your pictures too!
See all my photos in my gallery, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more of my musings.