On Saturday evening Jude and I drove up to Gloucestershire to see the Enchanted Christmas event at Westonbirt Arboretum. We’ve never been there before and weren’t quite sure what to expect other than the website describes an illuminated trail through the forest. It is actually quite difficult to explain how magical this actually is, so I took loads of photos to help…..
As you can see, it is as simple as coloured lights being shone into the trees, but it’s so incredibly effective. It really felt like you were walking through a magical enchanted forest, and when my kids were younger, they would have absolutely loved it. It was very family friendly, and apart from the odd young couple holding hands, it was full of families with children exclaiming their delight. I never once saw any signs of kids being bored, and it just goes to show that actually being outside and the opportunity for a little imagination is often the best entertainment.
However, there were activities throughout the trail to offer some extra fun. There was a stationary bicycle that the faster you pedalled, the more lights into the distance lit up. There was a brilliant leaf-shaped drum kit, that lit up different trees; a microphone that the louder you sang into, the more of the Christmas tree lit up; and other things like that, which we enjoyed having a go at (where there wasn’t a queue) as well!
Also, it isn’t just lit up trees – there are areas with slightly different lighting going on, such as huge suspended glowing stars; fairy-lights; a machine that made massive smoke rings that blew into the crowd; and my favourite was a little clearing with a disco ball sending pretty patterns over everyone and a bubble machine overhead. It was utterly magical!
Half way round the trail, Jude and I stopped at a little resting point for a hot chocolate, which was very nice. We were lucky to get a seat on one of the few benches there and it was nice to have a break just to take in what we’d seen so far, and to make the trail last a little longer. Including the rest, it took us about forty-five minutes to walk the whole thing, but of course, smaller children would take longer, and we didn’t stop to do all the activities, which would also increase the time. I felt it was just the right length. I was left wanting more and sad that we’d got to the end, but that’s probably the best way to be.
Near the end, there was a large open barn with tables laid out to make Christmas cards. I loved the fact that the organisers continued a forest theme as we could use ink to print leaves onto the cards and then decorate with pretty glitter. I was quite impressed with the ones we made!
By the time we’d finished the woodland trail, the restaurant had closed, so book yourself an early time-slot if you plan on eating in there afterwards. However, there are several market-stall type eating places within the large marquee that you walk through at the beginning and end of your visit, so you can always grab something there.
We chose to do the forest trail first, and then look around the shop; which I think was the right way round, as it extended the visit, when we didn’t quite feel ready to go home yet. It was about 8:30pm when we finished, so I think we missed the mince pies and choir singing, which was a shame because I like both of those things! However, we spent a few minutes looking around the shop which actually had some really nice gift ideas. There was quite a queue next to it to see Father Christmas, so again, make sure you’re early enough not to miss that; particularly as it’s included in your entrance fee, which I think is brilliant. Don’t miss the story-telling by Mrs Christmas further along. There were only a couple of children in the tent, but they looked absolutely captivated.
I would highly recommend visiting the Westonbirt Arboretum for their Enchanted Christmas. Visit their website to see opening times, details and book your tickets as they need to be bought in advance. It’s such a different, unique trip out and I can’t imagine anyone would come away not having enjoyed themselves. Hats off to the designers and engineers of the whole thing. I loved it! I filmed a lot, so if you don’t mind spoilers, keep a look out on my You Tube channel as I’ll be showing it as part of Vlogmas. Let me know if you go – and don’t forget your hat and gloves!
*Tickets were gifted to me in exchange for this review. All words and opinions are honest and my own.