Magical Lantern Festival
By Ann Evans
Photos by: Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
Treat the family to a magical experience. Ann Evans shines a light on Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
There’s something magical going on in Birmingham as the Magical Lantern Festival returns to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for the third year running. Hundreds of giant lanterns illuminate the landscape in an enchanting visual after-dark spectacular. Visitors will delight it seeing larger than life fairy tale characters, an animal safari, giant ladybirds, elves and tropical flowers and not forgetting Santa and his sleigh.
A 12-metre unicorn archway begins your adventure through the illuminated Botanical Gardens and then follow the trail via its walkways to find a new exciting scene at every turn. A carousel, giant football boots, a fairy ready to take flight, fishes leaping from the pools. There are around 50 different magical scenes and around 1,000 beautifully crafted lanterns.
With accompanying music as you explore the twists and turns, there are scenes to enchant all ages. The placement of every lantern is carefully worked out, so that each view also allows the visitor to see another scene from a different angle.
The man who designed the concept is David Lee from China. David studied his craft at the University in China then Coventry before going on to study at the Winchester School of Art in London. David travels all over the world, designing lantern festivals for parks and gardens. He said that over the last 10 days he had visited 80 parks in seven cities.
“I start with the concept – the idea and then the design. I have a visualisation of what I want and will look at the park from Google Maps to see the contours and layout. And then I visit the park to see what natural structures there are, such as trees and ponds, and then design what will go where exactly.
“I see this like an installation. It is important to make good use of the natural landscape that is already there, such as trees, they support the image. And I design it so the visitors get the very best views by following the route I plan out.”
Event director, Naz Kabir added, “We are so excited to open the doors and share yet another magical experience with the city. This event is all about celebrating creativity and bringing people together at the most wonderful time of the year. With something for everyone, we’ve created a stunning route around Birmingham Botanical Gardens that not only celebrates Christmas, but a whole host of cultures in the beauty of the venue.
“Over the past two years, we’ve welcomed over 80,000 friends, families and colleagues to the festival and I can’t wait to share this fantastic experience with everyone again!”
It’s a 45-minute route, and it took 20 men working on site for three weeks to put the complex event together. The lanterns themselves are made in China. It’s run on LED lights, so power saving and environmentally friendly.
James Wheeler, CEO of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, said: “We’re delighted that the Magical Lantern Festival has chosen to return to the gardens again this year; it’s such a fantastic and unique event that really gives people the chance to see us in a different light. We love the stunning workmanship behind the lanterns, which create the most stunning trail around our venue. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of people down here over the next six weeks!”
The Magical Lantern Festival runs until 1st January 2019. Tickets are priced at £12.50 for adults, £8.50 for children and £38 for a family of four. For more information and to book your tickets, visit: www.magicallantern.co.uk