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Magical Lantern Festival at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Illuminate Your Christmas holiday with romantic night out
Lighting up Christmas in Birmingham over the festive season is the return of the Magical Lantern Festival.

Magical lantern festival Birmingham. Photo Alison Brinkworth
Lighting up the Christmas season

Birmingham Botanical Gardens transforms its spectacular grounds to host the illuminations from November 23 to January 1. It's a grand entrance that greets visitors with a glowing archway featuring a pair of huge unicorns.

The Christmas themed Magical Lantern Festival features an array of lit-up characters and scenes that visitors can wind their way around in a fun-packed stroll outdoors. Santa isn't far away, in a grotto or an illuminated version in the grounds.

It's perfect for a romantic night out or adventure with the whole family. Children will love seeing the bright lights and be enchanted by the pretty scenes - just remember to be wrapped up with woolly hats and gloves.

I visited ahead of the opening night and it takes at least 90 minutes to enjoy the whole gardens fully. For those who remember Walsall Illuminations from several years ago, this lantern festival is in a similar vein.

Magical lantern festival Birmingham. Photo Alison Brinkworth
Tea time at the Botanical Gardens

As the sun falls and darkness draws in, the grounds in Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, come alive with colour as vivid life-size sculptures and lovable animals characters light up.

It's a mix of cultures with its Chinese origins shining through. There are traditional Chinese lanterns and adorable pandas about halfway round that can't help but draw attention.

Animal shaped lanterns are some of the particular highlights like a 12m tall peacock, a big grasshopper, giraffes, zebra and even an elephant.

Magical lantern festival Birmingham. Photo Alison Brinkworth
Wildlife scenes light up in the dark

Some of the most delightful pieces are pretty shining flowers amid the trees of the Botanical Gardens. There's even a huge bright pink glowing lotus flower on the pond.

If you fancy a drink or snack, there are stalls dotted around the route including one for churros. The entrance also has a food village.

During its opening weeks, the Festival can be visited from Thursdays to Sundays each week. Opening hours increase to every day during the school Christmas holidays from Friday December 21 to January 1. During this period, it will be open from 5pm to 10pm each day with last entry at 9pm.

Magical lantern festival Birmingham. Photo Alison Brinkworth
Pandas are one of the main attractions at the Magical Lantern Festival

Children aged 3 and under enter free and do not need tickets. Adults cost 14.

Be warned, the Botanical Gardens car park is closed during this festival so visitors need to use nearby on street parking, which can get very busy.
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Why? Light up your Christmas with illuminations in Edgbaston
When: November 23 - January 1
Phone: 0121 454 1860
Where: Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3TR
Cost: 14
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