There’s nothing I love more than a new event in London. Whether it’s a restaurant opening or an exhibition launch, the advent of change is what keeps the city exciting for me. This month I’ve been especially buzzing about the premiere of a new festival: the Magical Lantern Festival in London’s Chiswick.
The inaugural Magical Lantern Festival is taking place throughout the gardens of Chiswick House in west London. As part of the city’s Chinese New Year celebrations, it features installations of brightly colored figures that light up the night sky and thaw the February chill (thank goodness!).
Excited to see the lights, I book tickets for the festival and head out to Chiswick House with my boyfriend. He’s hugely skeptical about the whole thing, assuming he’s going to see a few dull lights and spend the rest of the night watching me Instagram.
But as soon as we arrive at the Magical Lantern Festival, he’s as awe struck as I am.
On our way around the 75-minute circuit, we pass under flowery lanterns, beside bright rows of colorful lights, and along wildly brilliant menageries full of everything from electric pink flamingoes to tall yellow giraffes.
We see the forbidding Terracotta Army, whimsical Year-of-the-Monkey primates, and a larger-than-life dragon in a nod to Chinese New Year. We stand in front of pretty rows of flowers and big patches of overgrown pumpkins, then peer at a pond full of giant lit-up lilies.
As people roast marshmallows over an open fire, we walk across a bridge with views of Asian elephants in the distance, then through a canopy with blinking crystals in the trees.
By the time we reach the end of the path, my inner child is bouncing up and down with joy. The festival is even more bright and brilliant than I imagined, and has brought a huge smile to my normally frozen February face.
And while my boyfriend is right about having to watch me Instagram (in my defense, I only post one photo), he ends up being won over by the sweet displays and playful characters. The Magical Lantern Festival in London is not only exciting because it’s new, but also because it’s fun for kids from 1 to 100.