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Lighting up West London – Lightopia.
I’m a sucker for things that sparkle and light up the sky. Fireworks, sparklers (of course) and now lanterns are all on my list of guilty pleasures so I was pleased to be invited to the launch of Lightopia, a series of light-based installations set amongst the Palladian grandeur of Chiswick House in West London.
The Lightopia experience has already been seen in Edinburgh and Manchester and has now come to the capital to showcase the 800-year tradition of lantern making that the Chinese town of Zidong, where the lanterns are made, is famous for. Designed by contemporary artist, Ava Moradi, Lightopia is an immersive artistic experience for visitors of all ages. She adds: “All of the pieces explore this year’s theme of Harmony, which is central to the world of Lightopia”, with the handmade, silk installations combine ancient techniques of Chinese lantern making with modern technology.
On a cold, clear night I headed down the A4 for the launch party. The event featured a troupe of amazing Chinese acrobats; one balanced multiple candelabras whilst getting into all sorts of unlikely positions and another flipped several containers onto her head at once from a seesawing plank that balanced precariously on a log. The good news is that all the acts are part of the Lightopia experience.
After speeches by a variety of dignitaries including the Mayor of Hounslow the event was declared open and we followed a dancing Chinese dragon accompanied by drummers to the ‘big switch on’ of the lights. This happened at the front of Chiswick House with state-of-the-art 3D video mapping and lasers creating a stunning visual display across its elegant exterior, bringing the story of Lightopia to life.
After the amazing opening, we followed the dragon around the park to explore the illuminated wonderland, using touchpads and drums to control the sculptures. There are 47 groups of light installations, including the Tree of Light centrepiece – a 10m tall sculpture, surrounded by 20 drums, which Lightopians use to change the tree’s colours illuminating the night sky, ensuring an ever-changing installation which allows visitors to become a part of the artistic experience.
Elsewhere, a stunning, 18m peacock synchronises with the music, as light pulses through its wings in time with the beat. And a breathtaking field of 70,000 individual roses flickers and blazes across a Chiswick rose garden.
Other installations include enormous, glowing eggs which change colour when rocked; musical buttons on the floor which create musical light shows when stepped on; paths of wintry flowers; an interactive Zodiac Sign piece, in which light and sound ingeniously travel together, and illuminated honeycomb arches surrounded by busy, glowing bees. The Keys of Life piece invites guests to walk through illuminated, keyhole-shaped doors, while the Rainbow Tunnel and Angel Wings provide the perfect backdrop for Instagram-ready photographs.
Lightopia incorporates a plethora of street food stalls, licensed bars, funfair rides and a kid’s zone where children can enjoy a fairytale world of candy, flowers, rides and even a Virtual Reality experience, so there really is something for everyone.
Tickets for Lightopia cost £20 for adults, £13 for children and £58 for family tickets – 1 adult and 3 children, or 2 adults and 2 children.
22nd January – 1st March 2020
22nd Jan – 11th February
17:00 – 22:00, last entry 20:30
12th February – 1st March
17:30 – 22:00, last entry 20:30
Chiswick House Gardens, London, W4 2RP