London may be a bit grey and dreary at this time of year, but things are about to brighten up thanks to the Magical Lantern Festival, which is coming to the UK for the first time this February. The month-long event is celebrating Chinese New Year (which falls this year on February 8) by transforming Chiswick House Gardens into an outdoor light festival with more than 50 installations. The lanterns took 300 days to make and have been crafted from 50 tones of steel and 58,000 LED bulbs. All the installations were made in China, which means getting to them to London was no mean feat, either - they've travelled 21,347km to London in 22 containers.
It's the biggest festival of its kind in Europe, which means you can expect big things – including a 10-metre-tall version of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, a Chinese dragon that's a whopping 66 metres long, as well as an 'animal kingdom' populated with life-sized flamingos, zebras, kangaroos and elephants – all lit up in lantern form. Visitors will spend between 60-90 minutes on a walking tour of the luminous displays, which are scattered around the 26,000 sq metres of Chiswick House Gardens. And because it's the Year of the Monkey, the festival will mark the occasion with an installation inspired by a popular Chinese fable, The Monkey King (not to be confused with The Lion King), which features an illuminated waterfall and a lantern re-creation of Mount Huaguo.
As well as plenty of seriously hot colourful lanterns, there will be a market place with a seating area where you can tuck into international food and drink. It kicks off on February 3 and runs until March 6, but we've got a sneak peek of some of the lovely lanterns you can expect to see:
The Magical Lantern Festival is at Chiswick House Gardens, W4 2QN.
Open from February 3 to March 6, Tue to Sun, 5pm-8.45pm. Also open Mon Feb 8 and Mon 22 Feb (closed Tue Feb 9 and Tue Feb 23)
Tickets cost (adv) £16 adult, £10 child, £48 family, £14 concs.
Find out more about Chinese New Year in London.