Magical Lantern Festival – Chiswick, London

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After such an amazing start to Chinese New Year with my family in London celebrating with 2 family dinners, I was off again with my mum back to Asia to have a mother / daughter trip to Japan. Making a quick stop off in Hong Kong after a heavily delayed flight out of Heathrow we were happily immersed in the Japanese culture. Upon arriving into Hong Kong on our short lay over I couldn’t help but notice all the Chinese New Year decorations still up throughout the airport. It made me a little nostalgic about the Chinese New Years I spent as a child in Hong Kong. The Chinese know how to bring the new year in right with a huge fireworks display, decorations and an array of bright colours. I love how London has embraced Chinese New Year and it has one of the biggest celebrations around the world, this year to mark the Year of the Monkey, Chiswick house is holding a Magic Lantern Festival and I knew that I HAD to go.
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My mum and I went down to Chiswick and entered the park just as the sun was going down and the sky was turning dark.
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We managed to catch a glimpse of our first big lantern installation just as the sky was turning black.
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The lanterns popped out from the silhouettes of trees and the landscape around them turning dark. Seeing these magnificently created pieces come to life as we continued walking through the gardens was truly magical.
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Shipped in from China, you can clearly see the Chinese reference throughout the show. Especially this large lantern scene depicting the “Monkey King” super fitting to mark the start of the year of the Monkey.  It was one of the more intricate and large pieces in the show.
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Animals took centre stage of the show, with larger then life swans sitting right next to the water with the sound of ducks behind them.
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Pandas, to safari animals running down a long stretch of grass. They all looked like they were suspended in mid-flight. It is surprising how simply the light in the lanterns can make the subject look like they have so much movement.
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As you meander through the path the displays revealed themselves to us in little clearings next to the path.
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Halfway through the exhibition there is a rest stop with little stalls selling hot chocolate, and even marshmallows which you can toast over a little coal pit yourself.
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When the sky turned pitch black the lanterns truly came to life, it turned the whole Chiswick gardens into a magical place.
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The 66 metre long dragon was not hard to spot from the other side of the water. But it made for an incredible back drop for the lanterns down by the water’s edge.
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I loved the way the lanterns were reflected in the still dark water, reflecting the colours beautifully.
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There were lanterns of all different subjects but personally I felt that all the lanterns which reflected a Chinese style or subject matter were the best. They were all placed together in a big square, the dragon, Chinese flowers, 12 Chinese zodiac animals, and Beijing’s Temple of Heaven.
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But for more impressively the larger then life Terracotta Army was impressive, they managed to get different facial expressions in each lantern.
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The gardens at Chiswick house was the perfect location to display these incredible pieces, you have to admire the workmanship and creativity that it takes to make such big pieces.
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It made me feel some of that Chinese new year magic which I got when celebrating in Hong Kong when I was a child. Such a special exhibition and one for all the family, if you have time before it closes I can highly recommend going.
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Tickets cost around £16 for a adult ticket and the exhibition closes on the 6th March. Get down there before this disappears and you’ll regret not going and seeing in the year of the monkey in with a bang!
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For more information about visiting and ticket booking visit the Magical Lantern Festival website. There is only one more week left!!!