This Friday I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening night of Westonbirt Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas event along with my family. Taking place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from now until December 18th, this special event includes a one mile long illuminated trail where you can see some of the 15,000 different types of trees here lit up in a rainbow of colours.
Take a trip along the Enchanted Christmas trail
The design and format of the trail changes every year, and is kept secret until the opening, so we were some of the very first to experience the walk, which takes around 45 to complete.
Wrapped up nice and warm, the four of us followed the illuminated pathway into the woods, where we wandered from one beautifully lit display to another. It’s amazing how something as simple as shining a variety of coloured lights up into the trees can make a place feel so different! But there’s much more to the trail than putting up some lights – a lot of thought and effort has gone into the decorations you uncover along your walk, with the clever use of a variety of lighting and effects turning the woods into a truly ethereal world. This was added to by the sounds of an owl calling into the night, and when it swooped over our heads we all squealed with childish joy.
The trees twinkled and flashed but that magical feel really came to life through the use of smoke machines and disco balls. We all loved discovering the puffs of multicoloured smoke flying through the air at one of the displays but I think everyone will agree on one favourite find – a glade filled with smoke and bubbles with a giant disco ball hanging from the trees and flickering spots of lights across the leaves of the trees all around us. I felt like I’d fallen into a fairytale and I didn’t want to leave!
But the Enchanted Christmas experience isn’t just about taking in the sights around you – there’s also some interactive experiences along the way which, in our case, where fun for kids both big and small! We had fun attempting to pedal a bike fast enough to light up a tree in front of us, played a drum kit that linked each pad to a light in a tree, allowing us to create a slightly crazy flickering forest experience and uncovered a tree that would light up more and more the louder our voices got.
The weirdest of all the interactive displays had to be where you could look into a camera and project the image of your face onto a giant bush!
The trail itself is enchanting in its own right, but no matter how much of a Grinch you might consider yourself, I dare you not to fall in love with Christmas by the time you get to the end of your walk and find yourself surrounded by Christmas craft activities, choir singers, a carousel, steaming cups of hot chocolate (with a shot of Bailey’s if that’s your fancy) and festive food such as roasted chestnuts, warm doughnuts dusted with cinnamon and toasted marshmallows. This place would even warm the ice-cold heart of Mr Scrooge!
What we thought of Enchanted Christmas
Coming here with Justin and the step-kids was great fun and we all felt like it had kickstarted our festive vibe. I was concerned that the event was aimed specifically at very young kids but, although there are attractions like the carousel and some of the crafts on offer, we all had a great time – from age 12 to 44!
It’s a really lovely way to spend an evening and so nice to see a place like Westonbirt Arboretum in a new and different light (arf). If you have the opportunity to visit I’d definitely recommend it!
Westonbirt Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from now until December 18th with entry timeslots available for 5,6 and 7pm. Entry costs £12 for adults and £6 for children, although under fives go free. Find out more at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-christmas.
We were the guests of the Forestry Commission for this event. But as ever, all opinions are our own!