Twas a November Evening shrouded in eternal mystique, the moon was high in the sky, plump and heavy and the air glazed over with frost. A white and red slogan t-shirt tucked nonchalantly into red suit trousers, white sock boots clinging to sluggish mud, red baker boy cap perched askew. The night was cold and Mistress wind had rustled her way through the threadbare trees, and despite the eeriness of the inky black skies, there was a comforting humming sound bubbling in the distance, you saw a flash of lights. White sock boots grazing the pavement impatiently, crunchy leaves falling from oak trees, a small queue outside Alice In Winterland, where a world of magical surrealism would await. The cold was banished into your subconscious meanderings, locked up in a safe and padlocked in a bow, as you stepped inside a realm where reality was left at the door. For tonight was the night of a thousand Alice’s captured in the expanse of time,a little girl diving into an adult’s world, a Dali-esque fantasy where the boundary between reality and fantasy had merged together as one.
As you weaved in and out of the Christmas Lantern Spectacular at Alice In Winterland, you traveled back into time, where the year was 1885 and a novel was being written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who wrote ‘Alice In Wonderland’ under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. He plucked fantastical thoughts out of his mind and sprinkled them into a tale that stood the test of time, where Alice, who fell down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world, would roam among carnivalesque, almost grotesque anthropomorphic creatures, who lured Alice into their peculiar world. It was an example of magical surrealism sprinkled with literary nonsensical nonsense, that made Alice in Winterland a fitting tribute, a spectacular lantern show weaved with abstract surrealism, childlike wonder and stunning special effects. You entered through the golden gates of Southwark into a fantastical world of illumination, where everyone from the eccentric Mad Hatter to the Smoking Caterpillar were ready to welcome you into their magical world, lit up in luscious shades of greens, blues and reds. Many of the anthropomorphic characters were accompanied by a version of Alice, ranging from the minuscule Alice who had shrunk to macro size to an Alice who stood over 5 ft tall guarding the park from normals who dared to scramble the puzzle of chaos into an organized scene.
It was like a book without pictures, except this book made sense in a roundabout way,an immersive storytelling experience accentuated by audio, guiding you through a life size Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with 29 interactive and immersive scenes. There was a chance meeting with the White Rabbit, and a hip-hip hooray with the Queen of Hearts, while you scrambled to stop Humpty Dumpty from falling off the wall, as you grew in size before your very own eyes. You were entranced by the life size chess board that flickered with grand figurines swathed in reds, blues and whites but perhaps it was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party that had you the most enthralled, captivated by a magical lantern world that welcomed you into its fold. A magic flower garden swarming with roses that changed colours was beautiful, green leaves snaking around pink roses that would metamorphose into pink. And lo and behold you had entered the insect city, where the Smoking Caterpillar awaited your arrival, puffing away on what could only be described as a ‘golden’ shisha pipe, wrapped round his grand form.
And grand it was, oh how grand. His bulbous blue eyes were half closed in ecstasy, as his red and gold fez hat sat so daintily on his precious head, while a red jacket tied together with a golden rope belt was slightly ajar to reveal his magnificent blue caterpillar body perched on a red and white mushroom springing up from fertile soil. Alice walked past the beautiful caterpillar into a world where she had become queen, journeying a long way since she had left the chessboard all those eons ago. But little did she know that she had crossed the line into the 8th square, meaning that she would become queen herself, did she supplant the Queen of Hearts? Only time would tell but you saw Alice bow legged on the throne, the red and gold crown a perfect fit despite the glazed shock on her young face. Her time as Queen would be shortlived but nevertheless it was time to join your fellow fantastical friends at Mad Hatter’s Live Tea Party, where Alice in Winterland had hired a live singer to croon her way into the expanse of night, haunting melodies drifting over a nightscape that was littered with cerebral stars. And when the time had come to don your cap and leave, you left singing, despite the cold, humming a little ditty under your breath as the stars covered their eyes and the inky blue faded into midnight black. And oh what a magical sight it was.
Have You Ever Been To A Magical Lantern Festival?
Please note I was given complimentary tickets to Alice In Winterland with Love Pop Ups London but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by complimentary services.