London Guide: The Magical Lantern Festival

Magical Lantern Festival

In celebration of the Chinese New Year today, check out these fun illuminated scenes from our evening stroll this past weekend through the Magical Lantern Festival celebrating the Year of the Monkey at Chiswick House and Gardens.

Running from Wednesday February 3rd to Sunday March 6th 2016, the world famous Magical Lantern Festival is making its UK premier this winter and is the perfect way to cheer up a cold, wet evening like the last few nights we’ve had here in London. As we walked the 75-minute route past 50-plus beautifully sculpted colored lantern installations in whimsical shapes and sizes forming animals, birds, buildings, flowers, abstract designs and the 66-meter dragon centerpiece, we were like kids as we gazed in wonderment and excitedly exclaimed over the colorful displays. It was way too hard to pick a favorite!

So what’s the history behind the lantern festival you ask?

Since 206 B.C., as part of the festivities of the Chinese New Year, children would march through the streets carrying lanterns and the tradition grew until lanterns weren’t just carried but also put up in official palaces and along the streets. The simple lanterns became more extravagant over time with craftsmen creating huge animals, dragons and depictions of famous landmarks as the nobility sought to show off their wealth by displaying the most ornate lanterns.

With so many colorful lights and such as festive air, it sometimes felt like we were at an amusement park just minus the roller coasters and cotton candy. Although there is a gourmet marshmallow roasting spot halfway through the route as well as food and hot tipple options in other areas of the festival.

Unfortunately, the wind and rain picked up as we neared the last third of the route and some parts of the path are subject to being closed off in adverse weather so we were unable to get up close to some of the installations including the Terracotta Army Lantern and the 10-metre tall, lantern recreation of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven but that just gives us a great excuse to go back another night!

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Interested in going? The event runs in the evenings beginning at 5pm with ticketed entry every 15 minutes from 5pm to 8.45pm. For tickets click here!

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2 comments

    1. I took about 200 photos (and we didn’t even get to see all the installations!) and had to whittle it down to the best 40 which was tough. In fact I don’t think I’ve posted as many photos on one blog post as I did this one!