The long and winding silk road: Chiswick House’s Magical Lantern Festival

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There may be a chilly nip to the air, the days may be a tad short and it may be a little frosty and icy underfoot, but January and February in the capital can always be relied on to offer bright, bold colour and lively, vivid celebrations thanks to the Chinese New Year. And, while the traditional focus for parades and dragon dances remains Chinatown in the heart of Central London’s Soho district, this is the second New Year running when its conclusion will be celebrated by a full, thorough and fun-filled festival held at West London’s Chiswick House.

Chinese paper lanterns
It may be little known, but the charming, white-brick Chiswick House was once a Royal residence. Undoubtedly, it’s a simply superb example of stylish, elegant 18th Century Georgian architecture, having been first owned by the then Lord Burlington, whom – given the house’s Italian Palladian-revival style – was unsurprisingly a well-travelled lover of all things Italian.

However, at this time of the year, of course, it’s all things Chinese that take over the esteemed site, with the theme for the festival this time being ‘Explore the Silk Road’. A major, ancient trade route between Europe and South East Asia (and vice versa) that endured for many centuries, the Silk Road inevitably then proved something of a super-highway for the exchange of cultures as well as many foodstuffs and goods. Getting back to the festival, though, perhaps its chief highlight will be its 15 metre-wide lantern decoration – a recreation of London’s Houses of Parliament – while visitors surely won’t be able to resist the mini-funfair, virtual reality gaming options, pop-up ice rink, ice bar and lashings of food and drink stalls.

No question then, a trip out west to this event could make for the perfect family-friendly memory to top off your stay in the capital, whether you’re staying in one of the luxury hotels London (such as The Montcalm Brewery hotel on Chiswell Street London) or a smaller, boutique property. Not least, because aside from the festival itself, the house’s delightfully landscaped grounds are also well worth checking out. Indeed, they offer acres of parkland that comprise hidden temples, lakes, greenhouses and Italianate statues. Who could ask for more?

Address: Chiswick House, Burlington Lane W4 2RP

Dates: 19th January-26th February 2017

Open: 5-9pm Thursdays-Sundays (open every day during the half-term school holiday)

Website: https://www.magicallantern.uk/london/ Twitter: @MagicalLantern