Lonely Planet Writer

London’s annual Magical Lantern Festival in Chiswick Gardens is simply stunning

This year’s annual Magical Lantern Festival has opened London, unveiling a host of exciting things to do and see, including light sculptures, virtual reality installations, an ice bar, games and a mini funfair with a 600 sq metre synthetic ice rink.

Magical Lantern Festival London
A woman walks through a canopy of lanterns during a preview of the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick Gardens. Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Magical Lantern Festival London
An illuminted panda lantern seen during the preview of the Magical Lantern Festival. Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Now in its second year and set in the 65-acre restored 18th century Chiswick Gardens in West London, this year’s festival has over 50 illuminated installations that celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Rooster under the theme, Explore The Silk Road. It features a diverse range of unique light sculptures, including a 15 metre illuminated replica of the Houses of Parliament, a miniature Colosseum, an artistic recreation of the ship that Chinese Admiral Zheng used on his trade explorations, as well as a giant fire rooster and an ambitious lantern adventure across the Silk Road through Europe, Asia, Arabia, Persia, Egypt, India and Ancient China.

Magical Lantern Festival London
This year’s festival celebrates the Chinese New Year of the Rooster. Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Magical Lantern Festival London
This year’s festival features over 50 illuminated installations. Image by Magical Lantern Festival

The festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year, with families celebrating by carrying or making delicate silk lanterns which symbolise new beginnings. Last year saw more than 110,000 guests visiting the attraction in London, which had illuminated, interactive lotus flowers and dragons set along a walking path. Yorkshire and Birmingham also hosted Magical Lantern events last year.

Magical Lantern Festival London
A woman looks at an illuminated lantern of a horse. Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Magical Lantern Festival London
An illuminated blue tiger seen against an Aladdin display. Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

The festival promises over 75 minutes of multi-cultural experiences, while virtual reality head-sets will allow visitors to imagine that they are running with dinosaurs or sitting on the world’s most daring roller coaster ride. Guests can also skate on the 30-metre-long synthetic ice rink, sit at a fully equipped ice bar or try a handful of vintage fairground rides.

Magical Lantern Festival London
An intricate illuminated display of miniature buildings. Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Magical Lantern Festival London
A giant and colourful illuminated pagoda installation. Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

The Magical Lantern Festival will run from 19 January to 26  February. Online advance weekday tickets cost £16.50 for adults, £10.50 for children and £50 for a family. More details on visiting the attractions are available at the official website.

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