Last night I visited the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House & Gardens. Unfortunately, it’s now in its last week and I wish I’d gone a little sooner. But it’s quite popular and only in its second year – it’ll definitely be around for a few more years to come. The festival is a ‘fusion of art, heritage and culture’ and celebrates Chinese New Year.
I ordered my tickets online and in advance. I am so happy that I did because there was still a huge queue just to get in, even for ticket holders. Actually, there was a family in front of us who didn’t quite understand (even though they’d been told repeatedly) that the queue was for people with tickets. They were turned away at the gate – they’d waited all that time for ages. I felt a bit sorry for them, but then again, they were told so many times that they needed tickets too.
So, a tip for next year: buy tickets online in advance, and make sure that you get there with loads of time to spare.
Chiswick House & Gardens is also a fifteen minute walk from all train/tube stations – so be prepared to walk. The grounds are also huge. Basically, be prepared to walk.
Actually, whilst I’m at it, I may as well get out a few of the things that weren’t done right before I get to the good stuff. I am aware that this is a young festival, and it definitely has some teething issues, hopefully next year some of these things will have been thought of a bit more. Firstly, there weren’t enough signs. Yes, there were signs directing you as you were walking to the festival but once you got there they were pretty scarce. There should have been more signs in general. Signs for the toilets, signs for the food, signs for the entrance and box office. Just. More. Signs.
Also, there should have been more female toilets – full stop. You can’t just have three cubicles. There were much more at the exit but really? Nope. Not good enough.
Another thing was the really badly translated information provided. I’m regretting not taking pictures so I could quote them because now I just come across as a bit of a pompous p***k but the translations should have been better. It’s just annoying, and it detracts from the information that’s actually being given when instead you focus more on the writing. I don’t think it’s just me either to be honest, although I am pretty fussy when it comes to things like that.
Now that I’ve finished my moaning… Let’s get to the good stuff…
Once we got through the gates we began the lantern trail. It was full of beautiful, bright colours – and even once some of the lanterns and displays became a little repetitive (such as the camels) – there was always something that would come along that struck you. There was so much to see along the theme of ‘the silk road’, which may have got a little lost amongst all the amazing lantern displays. I’ve uploaded a few of my favourite pictures which do themselves much more justice than I could ever put into words.
Walking along, even in the dark, you could see how nice the gardens of Chiswick hall were, with a large pond and some haunting willow trees. There were also little daffodil buds waiting to bloom. The grounds must look impressive in the spring – I’ll hopefully get a chance to visit one weekend.