This Sunday London was alive, not only to young and old couples celebrating their love for each other on the yearly rose massacre that is Valentine’s Day, but also the sights and sounds of the Far East with the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of the People’s Republic.
The main parade which trailed its way through the heart of London from Charing Cross to Shaftesbury Avenue attracted thousands. However I was not nearly brave enough to try to tackle a crowd of that magnitude. So in my own little homage to Chinese New Year (and a joint Valentine’s treat) me and my girlfriend instead tackled the much more manageable crowds visiting Chiswick House after sunset to see the Magical Lantern Festival. Being the romantic that I am, I decided to break out the old camera and I want to some of my favourite photos from the night.
Now the key question, was it magical? I’d have to say yes it was. Some might say that £16 is a bit steep for a few shaped light boxes. While that’s right in essence, I would say that the level of skill and time that goes into making something like a 60 metre long dragon lantern is worth it. Not only that, but organisers have curated it brilliantly, with the subject of the lanterns flowing seamlessly from one set to another. There were only a couple of instances towards the end when a few random installations clanged a bit with their neighbouring ones. Logistically Chiswick House have to take a lot of credit, the route was very clear with plenty of staff on hand. We took one of the later entries and there were next to no bottlenecks (the biggest was probably at the grilled marshmallow stand halfway round). A high point for me was relatively early on, where from the vantage point of the bridge you could see a great line of lanterns reflecting back up from the gardens still pond. We ended up spending over an hour and a half there and would have definitely stayed longer had it not been for the chill of a Great British February. Chinese New Year or not, that still bites through the thermals.