Lighting the skies of West London, the magical lantern festival brings luminosity to Chiswick Gardens
Words Helen Brown
For many, the tail-end of January is never typically regarded as a period of celebration and hoopla. The last of the turkey has long gone and the twinkling lights of Christmas have been reluctantly removed. The glitzy hype of the festive period is evaporating and the search for a holiday-blues antidote becomes pivotal. Cue the Magical Lantern Festival. For the second year in a row, London has been selected as the only city outside of the Far East to host this spectacular fusion of art, heritage and culture in celebration of the Chinese New Year.
With an all-new show, Chiswick House and Gardens will once again be transformed into a fairytale world of light sculptures and Chinese art. From January 19th, celebrations take place to welcome in the year of the rooster and the cultural significance surrounding this extraordinary event. The restored 18th Century gardens in West London will see its 65 acres packed with over 50 illuminated, brand new installations in a dazzling extravaganza of lights, music theatre, culture and art.
The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Explore The Silk Road’. Visitors will discover magnificent life-sized and oversized lantern scenes, which represent and highlight this significant route of trade and culture from Europe to Ancient China. The Silk Road Festival journey begins with a 15-metre wide installation of London’s Houses of Parliament, a full-size replica of the ship that Chinese Admiral Zheng used on his trade explorations, and an ambitious, lantern adventure formed of wildlife, nature, animals and architecture, through Europe, Asia, Arabia, Egypt, Persia, India and Ancient China. Last year, the awe-inspiring 3-D lantern experience enjoyed a sold-out run, a slew of award nominations and a galaxy of star fans, including Ant and Dec and Emilia Fox, with this year looking set to be on par.
Elsewhere, the entertainment area is not to be missed, with a 600 square metre synthetic ice rink, photo opportunities, Chinese bamboo lantern riddles and a mini funfair and games. Guests can additionally step inside the world of Virtual Reality with the newest technology promising to draw visitors into an immersive world, from running with dinosaurs to virtual roller coasters. A mouth-watering range of international cuisine and traditional street food will be on offer for hungry garden guests, including Spanish Churros, Chinese dumplings and authentic jerk chicken.
It’s the brainchild of Weli Creative’s David Lee and Ian Xiang, who explained, “We were absolutely delighted to see London’s extremely enthusiastic response to this important Chinese tradition last year and were keen to make it an annual event.” The gardens at Chiswick are the perfect canvas for these magnificent lantern sculptures. Visitors of all ages are sure to be delighted and hungry to share pictures with friends. The festival runs until 26th February and is the perfect half-term outing. Kids will be engaged for hours exploring this fairytale world of light sculpture.
More information here.