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Magical Lanterns: Top Lantern Festivals To See With The Kids This Winter

Dela Lozanova

20 November 2018

Time to Read

5 minutes

It’s October and we all know it - Christmas is well and truly on its way! It’s a safe bet you’re already planning your Christmas Days Out and you’re searching for the best Santa’s Grottos near you, but we’ve got one more thing which deserves to make it on your festive list of things to do with the kids - lantern festivals.

So, without further ado, here’s our guide to the best, most magical lantern festivals and parades near you!

Little boy holding a lantern in winter

1. Festival of Light Inspired by Diwali, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
29th September - 4th November 2018

Let’s start with something exotic - the Festival of Light at Robin Hill Country Park! If you’re interested in Asian culture and traditions, this Diwali-inspired version of the award-winning Electric Woods event will be right up your alley.

After dusk, the woods will light up in various Indian-inspired experiences, including a Neon Jungle, Taj Mahal Garden and Holi Powder Arena. The theme comes complete with Bollywood dancers, street entertainment and delicious Indian food on the menu. On Fridays and Saturdays the kids can get creative with Lantern Decorating workshops.

Diwali inspired lantern festival

2. Giant Lantern Parade and Halloween Ball, Sefton Park, Liverpool
24th -26th October 2018

Looking to make things more exciting this Halloween? Well, Liverpool’s throwing a huge spooky lantern festival and parade at Sefton Park to celebrate.

During the day, your little fiends will be occupied with Halloween-inspired crafts, including making masks and lanterns; plus, they’ll get to take part in a mini Halloween parade. The family-fun continues after dark, too. The spooktacular procession of giant, weird and wonderful, lantern-lit puppets will leave the kids (and you!) in complete awe.

3.The Festival of Light, Longleat Safari & Adventure Park
9th November - 6th January 2019

The lantern festival at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park tells the whimsical story of Fantastic Voyage - the adventures of brother and sister duo Harry and Bea and their dog Monty, who travel through space and time on a hot air balloon.

Chinese lanterns in the sky, singing Christmas trees and the roar of real-life jungle animals - it’s going to be epic!

Lantern festival at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park


4. Giant Lanterns of China, Edinburgh Zoo
16th November - 17th Feb 2019

Here’s another returning lantern festival! This year Edinburgh Zoo is throwing a proper Chinese lantern festival, featuring giant light-up structures and smaller lantern animals, across a mile-long route through the zoo, which takes about 1 1/2h to complete.

Giant Lanterns of China will take place each evening from 4.45pm to 8.45pm. You’ll be asked to pick a time slot (available every 15 minutes). This will ensure that you can enjoy the Chinese artists’ work without having to deal with overcrowding.

5. City of Lights, Truro
21st November 2018

Over 30 000 people flock from all over the country to take part in the annual City of Lights festival in Truro. The procession features local dance acts, lanterns made by schools and community groups, and of course, the main event - giant lanterns made by artists especially for the event.

Even though the date has been set for this year’s lantern festival, the organisers are still collecting donations to cover their budget. So, if you’re feeling generous, you could help them out with a bit of cash and feel even more as part of the event when the day comes!

Lantern festival parade in Truro

6. Glow Wild, Kew Gardens
22 November to 16 December 2018

Hundreds of glowing lanterns and torches of fire. This is what you should expect from Glow Wild - the 2018 lantern festival at Kew Gardens. Get ready to pick up your lantern and embark on a breath-taking night trail through the gardens.

As the festive season approaches, seeing the tallest living Christmas tree in the UK glow in the dark will put your right in the Christmas spirit! For an additional £4.00, the kids can join a workshop at the Mansion and make their own lantern to hang on the Christmas tree at home.

7. Magic Lantern Festival, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
23rd November 2018 - 1st January 2019

Here comes everyone’s favourite Magical Lantern Festival in Birmingham! The spirit of Christmas and the glorious art of China will bring the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to life this winter.

Your Christmas experience will begin as soon as you walk through the 12-metre wide lantern entrance...and that’s just the start! Some of the amazing lantern sculptures brought all the way from China will feature penguins, snowmen, Christmas trees and baubles. There will also be a giant Christmas fairy-themed area glowing with thousands of shining fairy lights.

Birmingham Bull at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Lantern Festival

8. The Lanterns at Chester Zoo, Chester Zoo
23rd November - 23rd December 2018

How about a winter lanterns adventure at Chester Zoo? This is another wonderful mix between a Christmas wonderland and a lantern festival of giant proportions.

The Lanterns are inspired by the animals at Chester Zoo. With your own lantern in hand, you’ll have the chance to walk around and explore out-of-this-world visuals in 9 themed lands. It will be a truly magical experience!

Rhino lantern sculpture at Chester Zoo

9. Devizes Lantern Parade & Christmas Festival
30th November 2018

Devizes is about to kick off the festive celebrations with a bang! The town’s organising a Christmas Market during the day, followed by a huge lanterns parade in the evening (from 6.15pm). The lanterns are all handmade by local schools, which is an impressive feat, knowing the size of them!

The lantern festival procession is set to make its way through town, collect Santa on the way and end with the grand switch-on of the Devizes Christmas Lights. Sounds like a plan!

10. Lantern Parade, Small World Cardigan Theatre
7th December 2018

The Giant Lantern Parade organised by Small World Theatre is about to make Cardigan shine again. The theme of 2018 is “Year of the Sea”. Quite fittingly, you’re about to see a sea of hundreds glaring lanterns of all shapes and sizes parade down the streets.

Starting on Cardigan’s main street, the procession will end at Cardigan Castle. This delightful Welsh extravaganza will feature an illuminated appearance by a special guest - Small World Theatre’s very own sea monster, Cragen.

11. Spectacle of Light, Sudeley Castle
8th-9th December, 13th-23rd December, 27th-30th December 2018

Saving the best for last, we’ve got Sudeley Castle’s Spectacle of Light. This magical lantern festival will take you on a journey to Wonderland. Follow the White Rabbit along an illuminated trail through the castle gardens.

Going on a leisurely walk, surrounded by romantic lights amongst historic ruins, should put you right into the mood for a glass of mulled wine (or a cup of hot chocolate for the little ones). A hot drink and a tasty treat by the castle entrance will make this the perfect winter evening out!

12. After Dark, Chiswick House and Gardens
15th November - 30th December

Fancy something different? Here's a little extra! In 2017 Chiswick hosted a Magical Lantern Festival, this winter, there will be no lanterns, but you’ll have the chance to experience Chiswick House and Gardens in..ahem...a totally new light. The 18th century grounds will light up in a stunning After Dark spectacular. Chiswick House itself will take centre stage in a light and sounds show. So, wrap up, put on your mittens and get ready to explore a beautiful light-up trail in the gardens. 

Fancy a meal, as well? You can grab food on the go from the vendors in the walled gardens, or if you’re feeling like having a sit-down dinner, you can book a table at the exclusive Supper Club.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of magical lantern festivals near you. Don’t hesitate to tell us how your lantern festival with the kids went and of course - show us those all-important pics!

Peacock lantern sculpture at the Magical Lantern Festival in London

Things to do in Gloucestershire | Things to do in Ceredigion | Things to do in Wiltshire | Things to do in Cheshire | Things to do in the West Midlands | Things to do in Greater London | Things to do in Cornwall | Things to do in Edinburgh & LothianThings to do in Merseyside | Things to do in Isle of Wight




Dela Lozanova

20 November 2018

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Dela is a Digital Content Executive at Day Out With The Kids. Originally from sunny Varna on the Bulgarian seacoast, she now lives in Coventry and travels regularly throughout Europe to escape the rain.

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