REVIEW: Magical Lantern Festival in Birmingham
The Magical Lantern Festival returns once again to Birmingham over the Christmas period to help spread the festive cheer, with a gorgeous display of larger-than-life Chinese lanterns.
Moving to its new venue of Kings Heath park, the festival does not disappoint in its intricacy and the splendour of the vibrantly-coloured silk lanterns against the dark winter sky.
Most people have seen Chinese lanterns before, but maybe not on such a grand scale. The highlights on offer are an eight-metre high fairytale castle and a six-metre high phoenix. The Christmas themed lanterns including Santa’s Grotto and the family of polars by the ice add an authentic festive atmosphere to the festival.
My personal favourites include the swans at the lake (which reflect beautifully in the water) and the life-like flamingoes. Other features predominantly use electrical lights, such as the roughly 20 metre long display of a woman’s hair flowing with hearts and a display of clocks – both are mesmerising.
Along the route there are many chances to delve into a hot snack or a warm drink. There is a small entertainment area with some fairground rides along with a Christmas market and cafe. The festival offers a range of street food and drinks, including Christmas market favourites such as the ostrich burger and mulled wine. A visit to the cafe for a warm hot chocolate is a must, offering some respite from the cold wintry evenings.
Although the Magical Lantern Festival website states that people on average spend 2-3 hours at the vicinity – visitors may be hard-pressed to fill the average time spent. Unless they spend a copious amount of time eating and have accompanying children who will go on the fairground rides.
I looked around at all of the lanterns, took many photos and stopped off at the café for a hot chocolate. However, the overall time spent would not have hit more than 70 minutes or so. If you do visit, be sure to walk at a slow, leisurely pace to make the most of the stunning lanterns, particularly those found at the front.
The price for an adult on the weekend is nearly £15 or £13 on weekdays (both prices include booking fees via Eventbrite). It can be argued that the overall experience is hard to justify for nearly £15 on a weekend.
Nonetheless, if you love visual displays and want an alternative to the annual Birmingham Christmas Market – it will not disappoint. If the pricing is a sticking point, I would recommend finding a cheap deal with Groupon which offer tickets for under £10 if you visit at specific times.
Overall, I would recommend visiting the festival for the range of stunning lanterns and displays on offer. Pack your camera, some gloves and experience this optical feast whilst you can.
The Magic Lantern Festival takes place at Kings Heath Park until January 1st 2017 (Wednesday-Sunday only). Tickets are on sale now.