I ventured over to Chiswick on Friday night and the journey there felt much shorted than last year, I am sure I must've gotten lost before as it was less than 30 minutes from work with the tube and an additional 10 minute walk this time around. The festival itself had moved slightly, with the entrance now being on the other side from the parking area. You then walk another 5 minutes in the gardens (the route being lit up by lights and lanterns – so even if you don't have a ticket you can enjoy some of the creations) before you reach the box office.
Because this is the touring version of the festival, it's not quite as big or impactful as it was in 2016. If you've not been before you might not notice this as much, but we were very aware that there were large dark gaps between the various displays with nothing to see (and some of the lights on the displays themselves also weren't working fully). Perhaps if they'd positioned everything closer together it wouldn't have looked quite so deserted at times.
We also felt there were far less impressive lanterns to look at. There were more displays this time made up of tiny lights rather than the lantern material and a lot of the actual lanterns were quite flat rather than fully 3D. Additionally, a lot of the gardens were taken up by traditional fair ware such as food stalls and an ice rink, all leaving less attention for the stars of the show: the magical lanterns.
If you've never seen lanterns like these before then undoubtedly you'll be impressed by the lights and colour on display because it remains a very cool spectacle to venture out to on a dark winter's night. Unfortunately for us though we were able to compare it to last year and it definitely felt like a cheaper knock-off version of the incredible original.
Having said all that, the lanterns still look smashing on my photos!
The Magical Lanterns Festival is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 5pm until 10pm (last entry 9pm). Ticket prices start from £14 (child price), with special packages available for families. It runs until 26 February 2017 and the nearest stations are Chiswick (train) and Turnham Green (District Line).
Make sure to wear warm clothes and comfortable shoes as even if you rush through the festival you'll still be walking for a good hour (the nearest tube and train stations are 10-15-minute walk away) and the ground can be muddy, depending on the weather conditions on the day you visit.