Tag: botanical gardens

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - entrance with 2 unicorns

2018 is the third year that the Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival has been at the Botanical Gardens. But it’s the first year I’ve actually been.

If you read yesterday’s post about our trip to Blenheim Palace, you’ll know we missed out on tickets to the Winter Wonderland outdoor light experience. Instead I suggested we visit the Palace and the Cinderella exhibition, and then head back to Birmingham to visit the Magic Lantern Festival.

When we got back to Birmingham the weather changed for the worse and it started to rain. And rain. Then rain some more. The thought of a wet and squelchy walk, especially as we’d forgotten our umbrellas, was unappealing. So we abandoned the plans, and made new ones.

Magic Lantern Festival, take 2!

Last Christmas we didn’t leave the house between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, which isn’t exactly healthy! So we decided to rearrange our plans for 29th December, which would force us out into real life!

I’d read good things about the festival from previous years, but didn’t know what to expect. Short answer – it was brilliant! There was a great mix of festive and none festive decorations; wonderfully lit, brightly coloured and really well spread out. The pitch darkness meant they look great on photos too!

Christmas themed lantern displays

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - snowman and reindeer
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - reindeer and presents
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - gingerbread house and presents

Whimsical fairytale lantern displays

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - cute insects and toadstools
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - cute insects on a toadstool swing
Multicoloured teapot pouring into teacup
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - large chinese style dogs
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival fairy with moving wings holding butterfly
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - brightly coloured snail
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - plants and insects

Flower displays everywhere!

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - blue LED flowers
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - blue and pink LED flowers
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - bright pink lotus flower
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - lilac LED flowers

Animal lantern displays

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - lion and monkeys in jungle setting
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - elephant
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - penguins and birds
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - light up peacock
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - cartoon style dolphin and shark
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - giraffes and zebra
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - zebra and palm trees

Finally, my favourites – the pandas!

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - animated pandas with painted flowers on their bodies
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - 4 pandas and a superhero panda

We got the tickets for the bargain price of £8.50 each via Travelzoo, and it was well worth the money. If you’re quick you can still catch it, as the last entrance is on New Year’s Day. If not, I’d definitely recommend it for next year.

The same organisers also do festivals in Leeds and London. Have you been to any of the locations?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Our trip to Lyon – what we did

Lyon is the third biggest city in France, after Paris and Marseilles, according to the commentary on our bus tour of the city. The open top bus, where everyone was crammed downstairs because the weather was so bloody awful…

Thank goodness for overpacking. As I mentioned in my previous post the weather forecast for the first two days was cold and rainy, followed by warmer temperatures and sunshine for the next two. There’s always the hope that the forecasters have got it wrong, and in fact they had, it was colder than suggested!

Our first stop was the Basilica de Notre Dame, situated high on Fourviere Hill on the old town side of the River Saone. We took the (impressively clean and organised) Metro and then the funicular railway to the top of the hill. The Basilica was built between 1872 and 1884 and is one of the most breathtaking churches I’ve ever been in – from sheer scale through to attention to detail.

Inside was mind blowing.

I spent so long looking at the mosaics – each one must have been 3 metres long and was made entirely out of tiny half centimetre squares. The dedication and attention to detail is hard to comprehend.

Mosaic fresco at Basilica de Notre Dame Lyon

On a good day you can see Mont Blanc from Fourviere Hill. On a cold, rainy, windy, 6 degree day, you can’t!

Vieux Lyon, old town, is a maze of cobbled streets and little squares with restaurants and traditional Lyonnais bouchons – tiny eateries serving rustic cuisine from the region. It was very pretty, but hampered by the weather even though we struggled on in the face of adversity!

You can get a perspective of how high the Basilica rises above the city from this picture.

Vieux Lyon with view of Basilica

Parc de la Tête d’Or covers 290 acres. It’s huge! I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a multi faceted park in my life, and we spent 2 hours just wandering around.

It has a lake where people can boat in summertime, a beautiful fountain surrounded by flowers, and there’s a big velodrome in the grounds too!

There’s a small deer park, which randomly also has some ostriches?!

A zoo with flamingos, a giraffe (who we didn’t see, unfortunately), lions (who wouldn’t stand up for a photo!), a variety of monkies who I couldn’t photograph through glass, buffalo, toucans and tortoises! An eclectic mix!

The park is famous for it’s rose gardens, although we were slightly too early as they weren’t fully in flower. I can only imagine what a riot of colour there is in high season.

And the Botanical Gardens which, although not my thing (too claustrophobic) were  very impressive.

There you have it, an overview of our time in Lyon! We didn’t mange to see everything we’d have liked because of the weather, the fact that 1st May is Labour Day and there is no public transport running (WHAT???!!! I didn’t know that when I booked!) and also my Mother-in-Law, who was our travelling companion, isn’t at 100% health right now so we were tourist dawdlers rather than striding out all over the place and walking miles like we usually do.

Special mention, before I finish, to my first time of eating snails! Which I enjoyed so much I had them a second time too! They’re fiddly to get out of the shells and not very filling, but they were so tasty and enjoyable. A similar texture to mussels, they were cooked in garlic butter and I loved them.

Tomorrow I’ll share some pictures from our daytrip to Annecy, in the Alps.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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