Gaillac Lantern Festival

Gaillac celebrates the “Heavenly Empire” at its Lantern Festival.

I wanted to travel but my schedule and the disadvantages of jet-lag were holding me back! 

After some research, I find a perfect solution to my problem.

The town of Gaillac, in the Tarn, offers a magical destination: The Lantern Festival! The theme of this event, “The Fairy of China” seems to be an invitation to daydreaming and exploration. I’m convinced, I buy tickets!

It must be said, that in addition, it is quite well organized: the parking is out of the way but a shuttle bus takes you for free to the city center. Then, after a short walk punctuated by some first lanterns and other “Chinese” shops, I arrive at the festival site. It is a large park that has infrastructure installed for the occasion. There are several food-trucks for dining and various stalls related to the theme for entertainment.

Armed with a plan, like all respecting guides, my journey can finally begin.

The arrival in the festival

The pandas welcome me by the dozens (the festival staff also wears a panda costume), they evolve among bamboos, lotus and other crocuses in a thousand colors. This lush and sparkling vegetation dazzled me and reminded me of the lotus flowers that adorn the lakes of Sri Lanka.

During my wandering out of time, the splendours of China amaze you. The universes highlighted are all more enchanting than the others. The heritage of the Middle Empire is revealed with its great wall or its giant Buddha of Leshan.

The “totem animals” with the appearance of manga characters amused me a lot. These are actually the representations of the various Chinese signs. They dictate the horoscope for the coming year. If you’re a rabbit, like me, everything will be fine, you can sleep on both your ears!

On my way, I met imposing horsemen and solemn warriors who protected the Imperial City. I did not fail to greet them as a sign of my respect.

My steps have, little by little, led me to the majestic and disturbing Chinese dragon. It is immense and it is, in my opinion, the most successful “creation” of this artistic event. This chimera, emblem of China, has so many nuances, reflects so many reflections that one could spend hours observing the details!

the festival's most impressive monumental lantern dragon

After a passage through the jungle in the company of tigers, bears and other giraffes, I finished my journey with a return to prehistoric times. A section honors Jurassic dinosaurs with a hungry Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Being brave but not reckless, I didn’t linger too long.

the tyrannosaur of the lantern festival

In short, my escape from The City will have left me with memories full of poetry and magic. The trip was short with only a few hours but a few hours with wide eyes.

Next year, for sure I resume this flight to China!

Text: Anna for Carcassonne tours

Photos: Julien for Carcassonne tours

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