Europe’s largest display of giant Chinese illuminations is at Longleat this winter.
A total of around 7,000 individual lanterns, 15km of silk and a dazzling 40km of LED lights are being used in a series of stunning tableaux for the Festival of Light.
The highlights of the spectacular event include a 70m long dragon made up of 23,000 lit porcelain cups, bowls and plates and mythical creatures called ‘qilin’, which are each made from over 65,000 glass phials filled with coloured liquid.
The outdoor extravaganza also features a 20m tall Chinese temple, huge traditional Chinese masks, a family of life-size pandas in a bamboo forest, giant elephants and other animals including zebras, lions and deer.
In total, 30 tonnes of steel has been used to build the frames for the illuminated structures.
A team of 100 highly-skilled craftsmen from the village of Zigong in China’s Sichuan province have spent six months creating the structures which will remain at Longleat throughout the festival that runs until the New Year.
There are 19 different scenes to explore within 30 acres featuring thousands of individual illuminations, created from a mixture of silk, satin and vinyl covering fixed frames. The sheer scale and intricacy of the designs is breath-taking.
Written records of lantern festivals in China date back 2,000 years and Zigong is considered to be their spiritual home due to its clever concepts and ground-breaking designs.
Bob Montgomery, Longleat’s chief executive, said: “The Festival of Light is something truly unique.
“We are taking the age-old tradition of the Chinese lantern and completely transforming it for a modern audience using giant LED illuminated structures.
“We’ve spent close to six months working with a team of experts from Zigong to make this a reality.
“Nothing like it has been attempted on this scale before in the UK – it’s about as far away from those familiar lightweight flying lanterns as it’s possible to get.
“These are fixed, larger-than-life illuminated tableaux which people can wander through,” he added.
The Festival of Light opened at Longleat on November 14th and runs until January 17th 2015.