REVIEW – Birmingham’s Magical Lantern Festival
I have always been a bit of a proud Brummie. A Brummie born and bred, I have never left, even attending Uni in the city, and have grown up loving the diversity and the range of amazing landmarks in my home town. I love Birmingham even more at Christmas, when the whole of the region seems to fully embrace the festivities and create a wealth of experiences for the whole family to enjoy. From the Birmingham Christmas Market, to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Christmas Light Trail, this year, we have spent time exploring them all.
Having missed out of the Magical Lantern Festival last year when it was held at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, I decided this year we would head along as a family of four to its new venue – Kings Heath Park.
This magical trail of larger than life lanterns runs throughout December until January 1st (although with the recent weather causing potential disruption please do check before you travel!)
We headed along to the Magical Lantern Festival at Kings Heath Park in Birmingham on a cold and windy Sunday evening. On weekends at least, parking is available at a local school (King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys) with a £3 charge but this is then a very short walk to the start of the trail. On approaching the venue you can see some of the taller lanterns lighting up the sky and towering over the hedgerows in front of you and Erin was VERY excited and couldn’t wait to get inside to see them close up!
Frustratingly for 2017, there is no card payment for those of you buying tickets on the night (meaning a walk to the local pub and cashpoint for us!) For this reason (and the fact that tickets are selling fast) I would strongly recommend buying your tickets in advance using Eventbrite.
The trail itself follows around the natural turns and twists of the park, and each corner reveals a new sight and a new WOW when you see the lanterns lighting up the paths in front of you.
The story behind some of the lanterns is quite obvious – including the Birmingham backdrop, but others were a little random. The Bullring Bull which was pretty iconic at last years trail was also missing which I was a bit disappointed about as was looking forward to seeing him in the flesh!
Some of our favourite lanterns included:
These beautiful birds (peacocks?) in green blue and purple;
The amazing Fairytale Castle – this huge lantern (in which Erin can just be seen standing in front of the archway!) featured spires, tunnels, archways and flag poles and really was a huge statement in the centre of the park.
The Polar Bears on Ice were also a pretty epic sight, with lots of different sized bears floating on what appeared to be broken icebergs;
My personal favourite was the Giant Phoenix, towering above us into the night sky with its beautiful wings spread wide. This really was a stunning sight.
Around half way through the trail there is a fairground area with hot snacks and drinks stalls, as well as illuminated balloons to purchase (£10 each). Rides included a traditional merry go round and a bungee trampoline. The rides are an additional charge, and this, combined with the fact it was approaching the girls bedtime meant that we didn’t stay in this area for very long. There is also a Santa’s grotto on site, although if I am honest I completely missed this, and only realised it was there when we got home. It wasn’t immediately obvious, which for some may be a good thing, as there is a further additional £10 fee for a visit to the guy in the red suit.
The trail experience lasted just over an hour at a leisurely pace, and this was including time taking some photographs of the lanterns and me having to stop to make some extra room on my memory card from getting a bit snap happy! 🙂
Erin absolutely loved them, and Neve let out lots of little ooohs and ahhs as we walked towards the next delight in the trail.
The trail is open from 5- 10pm (last entry at 9pm) and the entry price in my opinion is not cheap – at weekends adults cost £16.50 each and children £10 (Under 3’s get in for free.)
I have been asked a few times by friends if the Birmingham Magical Lantern Festival it is worth the money and my answer would be this… If you go accepting that the entry fee is steep, you will have a lovely time. However, if you are expecting the earth based on the value of your ticket you may be left wanting more. With lots of additional extras that the children may want to include, it could prove to be quite an expensive evening.
That said, we all really enjoyed our visit to the Magical Lantern Festival, and I would recommend to anyone wanting to trigger off that festive feel on the run up to Christmas. You can learn more about the Magical Lantern Festival on their website here.
*Disclosure – we paid to attend The Magical Lantern Festival with our own money, however the experience is something I thought our readers may enjoy*