Blogmas 2017 - Day 19: Festival of Light at Longleat

After considering it for a couple of years, this weekend my mother-in-law treated us to a visit to Longleat’s Festival of Light. Tickets are pretty pricey (you can use your Tesco Clubcard points) and I wasn't sure the kids would fully appreciate it before this year, and I have to say I'm glad we waited until now to go as they both really enjoyed themselves.

Family snap in front of the Christmas Tree

We had Day Tickets which meant we could enter Longleat at any point in the day and make the most of the facilities before the lanterns were turned on. Due to various other things happening for us that day, and the fact that it's at least a couple of hours drive away for us, we arrived at Longleat just after lunch. As we were meeting our other family members there, and had done the safari a couple of times before, we decided to skip that part on this occasion  - I would recommend it if you haven't done it before though.

We managed to do a lot of the things around the Main Square area - we saw, amongst other things, the penguins, monkeys, rays, and lorikeets, the kids had a run around Adventure Castle (perfect for Charlotte, although mostly a bit TOO adventurous for Benjamin yet), and we completed the hedge maze.We had hoped to do the Jungle Cruise but the queues were very long and we didn't want to waste the little time we had. We couldn't do the train either as during the festival this becomes the Santa train. This is hugely popular and you must book your tickets well in advance as they sell out pretty quickly. We already had plans to meet Father Christmas elsewhere this year so hadn't bought tickets for this. 

The lights turned on at 4pm and although the majority of the lights were gathered in one place there were a few dotted around the Main Square area. We decided to start at the far end, by the Adventure Castle, and work our way down towards the car park.

Beauty and the Beast lanterns
This year the lanterns were "The Magic of Storytelling" themed. This really suited Charlotte as she was familiar with a lot of the scenes. The lanterns depicted a lot of well known fairy tales, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Mermaid, and Little Red Riding Hood, as well as maybe some less familiar ones such as The Firebird and local tale The "Gurt Wurm" of Shervage.

Benjamin reacted a lot more to the displays than I imagined he might. He loved the dragon ("grrrrrrr") and the "pirate ship" ("arrrrrrr") - which was actually the ship belonging to the Prince in The Little Mermaid.

The "Gurt Wurm" of Shervage

The Little Mermaid
Obviously, Charlotte loved the Cinderella lights, and the Gingerbread House as she thought it was like the one we made.

Cinderella's carriage
Hansel and Gretel gingerbread House

As it got darker the lanterns looked more and more impressive, and with it getting dark so early the event worked really well for the younger children. We managed to walk around the lanterns fairly leisurely, and see everything before it got too late and the kids started to get too grouchy. As you'd expect, it was a busy event, but really well organised. The one way system through the main section of lanterns worked well and, for the most part, didn't feel too crowded. Charlotte was more than happy to walk around holding someones hand but, after seeing all the other children walking about Benjamin wasn't too happy in the pushchair. When walking he refuses to hold someones hand 99% of the time and there is no way he could toddle about in the dark without doing so. I ended up battling him a bit so that I could carry him around. He soon settled down though when he realised he had a pretty good view from my arms. It was a fairly cold day so I was glad we'd wrapped up warm (Charlotte was even wearing her thermals) but we were lucky that it stayed dry for us. I still had some serious hat hair going on when we got back to the car though.

View of the lights from the car park

My slightly manic, hat hair look!
The Festival of Light was a really excellent event which I would wholeheartedly recommend. I wonder what the theme will be next year?