Christmas in Birmingham: Magical Lantern Festival

‘The Magic Lantern Festival, held at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, is the perfect events to get you fully immersed in the Christmas spirit…’

If you’re obsessed with fairy lights and have them hanging around your house and garden, as I do, this event will fill you with joy.  I’m not really a fan of Christmas, but I do love anything that glows in the dear.  This event is held annually in Birmingham and attracts massive crowds.

The Magic Lantern Festival was launched in 2015 and, after a huge success, it was decided that it would be replicated elsewhere. Well, we can’t have Londoners having all the fun, can we?  Indeed. In 2016, Leeds and Birmingham joined the action. With any luck, Scotland and Wales might be included in the line up in future years. We love a lantern, we do… 

birmingham magical lantern festival


Anyway, tickets for the event at the Magical Lantern Festival in Birmingham are reasonably priced and you can choose a time slot to attend. This allows the organisers to ensure the event isn’t overrun with people all at once. We chose a 7 pm kickoff and were pleased to see the entrance filled with Christmas market stalls. 

The event had no real theme, although clearly, the Chinese lanterns gave it an oriental feel. There were also lots of child-friendly lanterns, which seemed to be making the younger visitors extremely happy. It’s difficult to argue with a 30ft Cinderella, I feel.  

birmingham magical lantern festival
this would look SO good in my garden.

On entry, you walk through a 12 metre illuminated arch before heading through the gardens to celebrate 2,000 years of Chinese lanterns.  There are classic lanterns throughout the site, but equally many modern designs. There’s also a nod to Birmingham’s wonderful bronze bull.  

The area is fenced off to stop anyone getting lost and it well signed throughout. This is excellent for me as I have zero sense of direction, even in daylight.  At night, I have literally no chance of finding anything…even a 10ft Panda. It took us around 45 minutes to walk around the entire site from start to finish.  This also included several thousand photo stops.

birmingham magic lantern festival
how cute are these little penguins??

There is a great mix of lanterns; some small and some simply enormous. The combination of the pitch black nights and gorgeous multicoloured displays is amazing.  Although fenced off to stop people touching the exhibits, it’s possible to get close to some to appreciate the intricacy of the designs.  Lord only knows just how long the lanterns take to design and construct.  I’m willing to bet it’s not a quick process.

The great thing about Birmingham Botanical Gardens is that it gives a large area to properly display each piece and keep everyone’s attention all the way around the park.  The kids attending with their parents let out a collective gasp every time they spotted something new and colourful and I’m not ashamed to admit that I did a few times, too. 

magical lantern festival birmingham
I love this little guy
magical lantern festival birmingham
Monet would have been so proud

The Birmingham Magical Lantern Festival is open until January 4th 2018.



Suzanne x


Hi, I'm Suz. I love travelling (obvs..), dogs, shoes and wine, although not necessarily in that order. I''m a full-time introvert and part-time traveller and live with my husband in Snowdonia, North Wales.

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