LONDON (REUTERS) - One of the UK's earliest examples of English landscape gardens has been taken over by bright and bold Chinese lanterns as part of London's Lunar New Year celebrations.
Chiswick (pronounced Chis-ik) House Gardens in west London is hosting the UK premiere of the Magical Lantern Festival, featuring more than 50 giant headed lanterns, a 66-meter-long dragon and thousands of lights.
English visitors were awed at the visual artistry in the normally staid neo-classical gardens, which were sculpted in 1729.
But one of the organisers who brought the festival from China to the UK, Lord Oxmantown, Patrick Parsons, said there's been a long cultural history between China and the stately homes in England.
"To have wonderful Chinese lanterns in English landscapes, I think is a perfect harmonization and continuity of what you already see in the great houses from the 18th century, the 19th century. It's part of the international global culture," Parsons told Reuters.
A Terracotta Army of lanterns dominated one area of the stately lawns, whilst the story of the Monkey King was depicted in a wooded area and near the lake bright-white panda lanterns delighted visitors.
In a nod to Chiswick House being a former home to wild and exotic animals, there were giraffe, kangaroo and antelope lanterns alongside the more familiar British creatures like squirrels and swans.
"I think it is so impressive, I think it is fascinating. I think the fact that they are all lanterns is amazing," said local resident Maggie Howard.
Peter Pilgrim couldn't wait to bring his grandchildren.
"It is just fantastic. All our grandchildren are coming later in the week and they will think they are in a Chinese Disneyland, they really will."
To celebrate Year of the Monkey 2016 the Magical Lantern Festival will run until March 6.
London's official Chinese New Year celebrations take place on Sunday February 14 in Trafalgar Square and are expected to draw tens of thousands of people.