There’s a feeling like no other when driving up to a place and being welcomed by an array of marvellous and incredibly illuminated animals, right before your eyes. Where the heart flutters in excitement and anticipation of what else is to come. The lights reflect and dazzle in your bright eyes and the urge to jump out of the car and race to the park is rife. This is how we felt when we first saw the Lantern Festival at West Midland Safari Park. It’s one place that you have to see this year, you don’t want to miss out on its gloriousness!
As you walk up to the entrance, a large rainbow arch stands before you. A beacon of happiness and wonderment. The giddiness of seeing the lanterns builds up and we raced through to the start, which is where we saw the spooky pumpkins, ghosts and a wicked witch lantern, a fitting display for Halloween! The bright orange pumpkins and white ghosts looked picture perfect against the dark backdrop of the night sky.
Then came the wintery Ice Age displays, where a pure white snowy owl was majestically hovering over a log, with its piercing eyes boring into you. It gave the familiar feeling of Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl, which I know the kids would have all loved. Then a waddle of penguins on their iceberg lanterns came into view, flippers reaching for the stars, and the icy blue and white lanterns bringing a chill to your bones thinking of the cold and whether it’ll snow this year (I hope so!). To end the ice age display off in style, a ginormous Yeti standing tall, with its bright, light body stood before us, with a design that perfectly portrayed his snow, white fur. It was awe-inspiring and we were transfixed for a moment.
But the best is yet to come….as you pass the Ice Age, a monstrous but magnificent volcano stands before you. As you walk through, raging red lights personify the boiling hot lava and the sounds of the rumbling magma from below fill your ears. But what’s on the other side you say? The Land of the Dinosaurs. Soon enough, the thumps and rumbles of the dinosaurs boom around you, the roars of the extinct beasts bellow in your bellies and the search of the lantern dinosaurs begins. Our eyes surveyed around us, trying to find where they are, are they on the ground, in bushes, soaring above the trees or standing tall? Well, I’ll tell you. The first dinosaur lantern was high and mighty, its neck towering up into the sky, aglow with bright, white light that you could see from a mile away.
Kids gawped at it “Wow…it’s so tall!”, with their necks craned towards the sky to see the dinos head. But the excited exclamations came from behind us, where Velocorapter lanterns were poised in the grass, teeth bearing, eyes piercing, mouth wide open as if it was roaring. It was truly incredible how the lanterns showed different colours for the same animal, like how the raptor’s mouth was red to show its blood-thirsty feistiness, how the eyes were emerald green and its feet blue with white claws. It was perched behind lanterns that were shaped like vegetation that looked so lifelike! Brilliant green leaves, that were lit up to show its feathered body, truly visionary. There were more raptors dotted around the grass, in various attack positions, giving the kids a startle but amazing them with its realness. Some raptors were even around a dinosaur egg lantern! With a baby raptor popping its head out every so often, a real treat for the kids who weren’t expecting it!
The focus for the lantern festival clearly wasn’t solely on the animals, but also the plants too! The lanterns placed on the ground to represent grass were striking, with each grass strand folding over alternatively, exactly how real grass would. Although, make sure you don’t forget to look high in the trees because you’ll miss the lantern of the wide wingspan Pterodactyl that had ruled the skies for millions of years. With its wings aglow with yellow spotted lights, giving texture to represent its outstretched, scaly skin. All these lanterns, coupled with the echoing sounds of dinosaurs stomping that gave a jolt to the heart, really felt like you were walking amongst the once-great creatures of the world. An absolute treat for the kids who adore anything dinosaur-related.
After the Land of the Dinosaurs, you walk into a whimsical display of lanterns! A pastel coloured castle tower and a small field of delicate, charming and bubblegum coloured daisy lanterns, dotted in the grass as if they grew from the ground itself. With white lights twinkling around their petals, it was a pink paradise when coupled with the luminescent pink sculpture that featured a loved up couple stooped on top of the dome reaching in for a kiss (“yuck!” Said the kids).
More whimsical lanterns included an array of bouncy looking toadstools of all different colours: blue, golden yellows, rosy pinks and oranges. They obviously can’t be touched, but they look so bouncy, it’s so tempting. The cutest lanterns were the pandas that were rolling around in the grass, looking cuddly and adorable as always, with sticks of bamboo lanterns huddled together. And a group of gorgeous, golden sunflower lanterns standing tall, making you reminisce of the summer that is long gone.
A truly enchanting experience was walking under the rainbow tunnel, with dangling fluorescent lights above you, dripping with colourfulness, mesmerising you as you walk under it. Videos being captured left, right and centre, people smiling feeling gleeful and inspired by the display and kids turning around in circles wanting to take it all in, as if there would never be enough time.
Now the time for winter has truly come (it’s cold out there now folks!) a walk through the Safari Park’s lantern winter wonderland was truly fitting. Lantern trees are placed, dazzling their audience with their icy white, cold blue and purple undertones, which were perfectly adorned with snowball lights on the end of their branches to truly bring that winter vibe. And on the ground were woodland creatures, little brightly coloured red squirrels, adorable rabbits and other critters you’d find in the woods. A cute, little gingerbread wrapped in a warm scarf was the next festive lantern to really get you into the Christmas spirit because what’s Christmas without gingerbread men and building gingerbread houses! And of course, to finish it off, there were little luminescent presents, twinkling and oozing with Christmas cheer.
A truly magical experience.
However, if you were to take a little break or venture out, there was also an arcade with an array of various game machines, as well as a marvellous carousel that glistened in the night sky, spinning around with joyous kids having the time of their lives. The rides were also open too if you fancied a go! Whether you wanted to take an adventure on the Pirate Ship, soar the skies on the Jungle Swings or feel like you’re falling on the Venom Tower Drop. There’s a ride for everyone, no matter your adrenaline level.
And after all that walking and excitement of discovering all the illuminated lantern animals scattered around the park, it was nice to warm ourselves up with a trip to the Lost City Food Court for a bite to eat. A box of delectable, crispy fries was super scrumptious and left me wanting more. But the best way to end the night was with a warm, delicious cookies and creme waffle. A sweet treat to indulge in and banish those winter blues away.
We left feeling excited for Christmas, amazed with what we just saw at the Lantern Festival and pretty happy that it was a night well spent.
So, make sure you take your kids or family along to the West Midland Safari Park Lantern Festival before it finishes on the 5th December 2021, because it will be an enchanting night to remember!
For more wintery days out, check out our other Christmas blogs here: