Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Magical Lantern Festival 2017

Pic of larger than life lantern with butterfly and peony decorations against night sky in pink, red and blue

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'.

Silk road larger than life-size human figures and ship as lanterns

Pic of huge panda sitting on and holding bambooWhat 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).

Pic of huge, egg-shaped lantern with rooster on sidePic of Chinese God figure as lantern from famous Chinese operaIt was delightful to recognise some of the characters from the Chinese opera, The Peony Pavilion (below left). 

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.

Pic of Houses of Parliament shaped light display

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.

Pic of two huge high-heeled shoes in lights in blue and pink with Union jack box and pink box

It was a bitterly cold night. You can see the ice in the water as you gaze at the reflections. 

Pic of huge building lanterns reflected in ice-covered water

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

Karen Andrews is a freelance French to English translator, transcreator, content writer and editor. She has a strong background in global marketing.

Email Karen for further information via karenanglicityen@gmail.com in French, German or English.

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