You probably haven't spent too much time thinking about lanterns up until now. Be prepared to start caring about them, thanks to the Magical Lantern Festival. The event is returning to west London for a second year, where you can grab an eyeful of some seriously beautiful illuminations for over five weeks. Here are the ten top reasons to head along.
1. The festival marks the end of Chinese New Year (January 28), symbolising new beginnings and good fortune. And we could definitely do with a whole heap of both after 2016's antics.
2. It's held in the really rather stunning Chiswick House Gardens, designed in the eighteenth century and restored to their former glory thanks to £12.1 million restoration.
3. The theme for this year's festival is The Silk Road – a series of ancient trade routes established during the Han Dynasty of China, linking east and west – meaning that you might even learn something from gawping at all those pretty lanterns.
4. The main event is a lantern trail based on the Silk Road, where visitors can follow a mini-route, complete with over 50 illuminated installations showcasing important landmarks along the way.
5. Stops on the route include colourful scenes from central Asia, the Middle East, India, the voyages of Chinese explorer Zheng He and a whopping 30-metre-wide, seven-metre-high depiction of the tale of Aladdin (a story thought to be told by travellers on the Silk Road), complete with massive lantern genie, obviously.
6. The first landmark on the trail is a 15 metre-wide lantern version of the Houses of Parliament and everyone's favourite clock tower.
7. If you're gagging for a more active method of viewing, just hit the 600 metre-square ice rink, with a backdrop of colourful lanterns.
8. If you tire of lanterns (believe us, you won't), you can shell out a few extra quid, grab a virtual reality headset and lose yourself in a series of virtual adventures, including running with dinosaurs or being hurtled around by a manic roller coaster.
9. There'll be a pop-up ice lounge with a real ice bar, courtesy of Eis Haus. In case you haven't guessed, that's a bar made entirely of ice. Don't worry, you'll be supplied with a toasty coat, before drinking a shot from an ice glass. Plus, you'll be sharing the space with arctic animals and Silk Road sculptures, all made from – yep – ice.
10. Plenty of tasty food will be on offer to warm you up during your lantern-wandering, including steak sandwiches with a twist from Cattle-Axe, Japanese street food from Notso, Alpine cheese dreams from Le Rac Shack and smoked meat galore from SmokoLoko.
Check out this awesome light show in Canary Wharf: