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Discovering the Silk Road at The Magical Lantern Festival

Vibrantly decorated Chinese lanterns and illuminated sculptures lit Chiswick House and Gardens throughout January and February. Guests were able wander around the prestigious location and grab an eyeful of some immensely beautiful illuminations for over five weeks, and we were lucky enough to view the festivities. The festival marked the end of the Chinese New Year (January 28) - the year of the Rooster, symbolising new beginnings and good fortune. The theme for this year’s festival was ‘Explore The Silk Road’, where visitors could discover magnificent oversized lantern scenes, which represented and highlighted this significant route of trade and culture from Europe to Ancient China.

Left: The stunning Chiswick House looked otherworldly amongst the dramatic sky. Right: The first beautifully lit lantern sculpture that we came across.

Left and right: As you follow the trail around the lake in the gardens of Chiswick House, you learn about the history of the 'Silk Road' and how synonymous it was with trade.

You probably haven’t spent much time thinking about the beauty of lanterns up until now, right? Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the amazing fusion of art, colour, heritage and culture. The first landmark on the trail was a 15 metre-wide lantern version of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. This sculpture was the perfect introduction to Europe being a part of the Silk Road, as the route is traced back from Europe to Ancient China. The trail takes you through the Roman Empire, Central Asia, Arabia, Persia, Egypt, India, the voyages of Admiral Zheng He, Tales of Aladdin and so much more!

Beautiful illuminated archways covered part of the trail, decorated with Chinese lanterns.

Left and right: Asian-inspired illuminations were plentiful, with bold colours and fusions of culture, heritage and history.

As well as beautifully lit landmarks and landscapes, giant illuminated creatures and wildlife were also displayed on the trail. Pandas, camels and many more animals were on show throughout the festival, to our delight!

The vibrantly lit camel lanterns helped to tell the guests the history of the Silk Road.

"Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the amazing fusion of art, colour, heritage and culture."

Left and right: The vibrant colours on the camel and panda lanterns were a sight for sore eyes!

What's more, the festival also hosted an Eis Haus Ice Bar, which was (literally) the coolest place in London. A piece of the Alps was brought into the festival; using ten tons of purified crystal ice, a pop-up ice bar was created. With temperatures of around -5, visitors were given insulated coats and a complimentary alcoholic ice-glass shot to warm the body! 

Cold yet cosy - a seating area inside the Eis Haus at the Magical Lantern Festival, complete with faux-fur blankets!

Left: The 100% ice shot glasses used at the Eis Haus bar. Left: The map of the Silk Road carves into the ice walls was an informative sight!

The warmly-wrapped staff in the -5 degrees Eis Haus.

Although the festival has come to a close, trust us - you do not want to miss out on this wonderful cultural experience when it next comes to London. Not to mention the international range of food, a 30-metre synthetic ice-rink, 3D lantern photo opportunities, virtual reality gaming experience and a mini funfair…What more could you ask for?

To read more about this wonderfully enchanting festival, click here