It's always hard to beat the first time you see an amazing spectacle. This year's Chinese Lantern Festival seemed even bigger and grander. I had expected to see many of the same lanterns in advance. Not so. This is an almost entirely new lantern festival. The theme for this year's festival is 'Explore the Silk Road'.
What else is different? I really appreciated the explanations alongside each set of lanterns. They gave an insight into Chinese culture. Some of the symbols might otherwise have passed me by. For example, I learnt that the clouds in a lantern group of peonies, roses and magpies symbolise good luck and fortune. Butterfiles symbolise good fortune and best wishes.
Bamboo in the hands of a panda means peace (right).
I also noted the Rooster lantern (right). The Chinese New Year starts on 28 January 2017 and ends on 15 February 2018. 2017 marks the Year of the Rooster. The Rooster is associated with good timekeeping.
The Houses of Parliament line the walk to the main entrance. I wouldn't have considered high-heeled shoes as depicting my culture. It was interesting to note how various European cultures blurred together. I suppose we have a similar tendency with Asian cultures. It's always interesting to be offered an different perspective on your own culture as well as learning about others. It challenges what you take for granted.
It was a bitterly cold night. You can see the ice in the water as you gaze at the reflections.
The fires for toasting marshmallows at the halfway point offered a much appreciated chance to warm up.
Watch my video of the Magical Lantern Festival:
Magical Lantern Festival London from Karen Andrews on Vimeo.
According to knowledgeable visitors some of the Chinese wasn't quite right on the signs. There was the occasional, non-native awkwardness in the English. Did a British person translate and set the Chinese and a Chinese person the English? It in no way spoilt enjoyment of the evening. Visitors naturally want any translations to meet the same high standards as the spectacle.
I'm now looking forward to 2018 Magical Lantern Festival at London's Chiswick House. I hope that they include a shuttle service to and from the Underground next time.
Links to previous blogs:
2016 Chinese Lantern Festival
The Peony Pavilion