Monday, 29 February 2016

Chinese Lantern Festival

Pic of red Chinese Lantern arch and figures at entrance lit up at night

The Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House in West London exceeded all our expectations. The colourful lanterns were fabulous lit up against the dark winter night sky. I could easily fill this blog with around 20 photos and still feel that I am leaving some of the best scenes out. I can only give you a taster of the event here. You will have to go and see the spectacle for yourself either in London or China.

The Chinese Lantern Festival is a tradition with a 2,000 year old history.  It is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. It marks the end of the Chinese New Year period. This year it fell on 22nd February. It can fall anywhere between 5th and 7th March.

This year is the Chinese Year of the Monkey. Monkeys therefore featured prominently near the entrance to the Chiswick's Magical Lantern Festival. Below is the Monkey King figure that stood at the top of an enormous lantern.

Pic of principal monkey figure on top of large lantern display

The Chinese Lantern Festival marks the return of spring. It certainly did not feel like spring in London last night. It was a beautifully clear night for the spectacle nonetheless. Toasting marshmallows over a fire offered a welcome warm-up around the half-way point.

It is hard to convey the sheer scale of the event. It took around an hour and a half's walk to see all the lanterns. There always seemed to be another colourful spectacle in front of you, to the side, above or opposite.

Lanterns above a narrow walkway

The festival made clever use of Chiswick House's pathways, waterside, bridge views and open areas. Fish, frogs and ducks were sited at the waterside for example. Waterside reflections were used to great effect.

Perspective shot of Chinese Lanterns lit at night at waterside
Waterside reflections at Chiswick House

Some of my personal favourites follow below:

Pic of colourful Chinese flower lanterns

Pic of brightly lit mushroom lantern at Magical Lantern Festival

Pic of peacock with tail feathers lit in blue light

The Chinese Dragon was a spectacle that you could see long before you reached it. It is 66 metres in length. Dragons are a benevolent symbol in Chinese culture. They symbolise strength, power and good fortune for the worthy.

Pic of enormous Chinese dragon lantern

We left Chiswick House enraptured and in awe. The Chinese Emperor bade us farewell near the exit.

Pic of enormous coloured lantern of Chinese Emperor with his soldiers
Chinese Emperor and his soldiers 

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