Pages

[GIFTED] Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum


Imagine stepping into an enchanted land where fairies dance through the forest, trees light up and talk, logs turn into musical instruments and there are magical surprises around every corner. Now throw in a cosy mix of mulled wine, hot chocolate, vintage funfair rides and festive stalls and you’ll find yourself at Westonbirt Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas!

Enchanted Christmas is night-time trail of twinkling lights and sparkling illuminations, set in the stunning grounds of Westonbirt Arboretum. It’s been a festive tradition for the last 21 years but despite having heard so many good things about it, we’d never actually been before. Last week, the boys are I were invited to an exclusive preview of this year’s trail, so you can imagine how excited we were to finally be experiencing it for ourselves!

Westonbirt is just a short drive away from Bristol and clearly signposted from the M4. We had no trouble finding it and since there’s loads of free parking (including a large overflow car park) right by the entrance, it was easy enough to get a space when we arrived.

The entrance is also right next to the toilets and baby change facilities so we were able to get the boys sorted before heading towards the start of the trail.

On our way over we were met with bright lights and cheery sounds of Christmas music coming from the cutest little funfair. Both boys were giddy with excitement and squealed at the sight of the ferris wheel spinning round! They darted around, not quite knowing where to start, before eventually agreeing that it might make sense to do the trail first.


We went in through a series of huge, glowing arches, which felt a bit like stepping into another world! As we walked along the path, we got our first little glimpses of the illuminations but it wasn't until turning a corner that we began to get the full effect. In fact, I think this is one of the things that made Enchanted Christmas so magical - each area along the trail was completely different and because the path was so windy, it was impossible to know what surprises would be waiting around the next corner!


From soft, twinkly fairy lights to bright, neon laser beams - every tree was lit up in a different way. Not only did this give each part of the trail a totally unique feel, but it also allowed us to see the surrounding woodland from a new perspective.




Out of every tree along the trail, the boys' favourite by far was the wise, old, talking tree. Finley got right up close and listened as it spoke, while Jacob cautiously watched from a distance before bursting into fits of giggles when the tree finished talking and fell asleep!


They loved dashing from one tree to the next and it was just amazing to watch their faces light up every time they discovered something new. I found myself constantly telling them to be careful as they ran but the ground was actually pretty flat, making it safe for little ones and easily accessible for buggies and wheelchairs.

Of course the boys have only got little legs so, when they started to get worn out from all the running around, we were relieved to find a little woodland hideaway half way along the trail. This dreamy, fairy-lit area was full of picnic benches and stalls serving hot chocolate, warm doughnuts, mulled wine and mulled cider, making it the perfect place to thaw out and break up the walk.



As we went deeper into the forest, we discovered that there were more than just lights along the trail - we found magical woodland characters waiting to meet us, too! Now I don't want to spoil any surprises so I won't go into too much detail about these interactions but let's just say that they definitely weren't shy! There were helpful elves, mischievous fairies casting spells over the trees and even Father Christmas himself, wearing his traditional green outfit. We thought this was a nice little touch as it meant he didn't look out of place amongst the trees and, with no formal grotto setting, the boys were able to go over and say hello to him at their own pace.


Both Finley and Jacob were awestruck throughout the whole trail but it was the interactive elements that impressed them the most. Finley giggled and whooped with delight when we found ourselves surrounded by sirens, smoke and flashing lights on Father Christmas' launchpad (I'm pretty sure he thought we were about to be launched into space!) and both boys were captivated by the musical logs that made twinkly noises and lit up the trees around them as they tapped them with a special stick.


The fun didn’t stop at the end of the trail though! The path took us back towards the funfair and Christmas village, where we found a festive choir singing some seasonal favourites in the snow. Jacob was totally mesmerised by all of this and spent ages dancing to the music and trying to catch the snow!



The Christmas village was full of festive stalls, including a cosy little yurt with free Christmas craft activities. The boys tried their hand at making tree decorations out of little wooden discs and coloured string, which they got to keep once they were finished.



After letting the boys have a few goes on the rides and taking a little wander around the stalls, we were more than ready for some food! With so many amazing smells coming from the seasonal food carts, we were totally spoilt for choice but eventually settled on hot dogs and chips to warm us all up. It's worth mentioning that these stalls can't accept cards and there are no cashpoints nearby, so make sure you take some cash with you!



We were genuinely blown away by Westonbirt's Enchanted Christmas. There was such a wonderful atmosphere throughout, with an air of calm and wonder along the trail, ending in a real buzz around the Christmas village. Seeing the boys' reactions to everything was truly magical and, given that it's the sort of event that they'll experience differently as they grow up, I've got a feeling that this will be the start of a new festive family tradition for us.


This year’s event will run on:
Friday 29th November to Sunday 1st December 2019
Friday 6th December to Sunday 8th December 2019
Friday 13th December to Sunday 15th December 2019
Friday 20th December to Sunday 22nd December 2019

All sessions take place between 5pm and 9pm (apart from selected ‘Relaxed Sessions’ where the trail will open early and be adapted to suit those with additional needs such as autism). There was so much to see and do that we were there for nearly 4 hours, so I’d recommend booking an early slot to get the full experience if you can!

Admission prices for Westonbirt Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas are as follows -
Adults: £15.00
Concessions (students and job seekers): £13.00
Children (aged 5-18): £7.50
Under 5s: Free
For a full list of offers, discounts and ticket types, head to Westonbirt Arboretum’s website.

Due to popular demand, tickets are only available by booking in advance. To get yours, just phone Westonbirt’s box office (03000 680 400) or visit the website: www.forestryengland.uk/westonbirt/enchanted-christmas

If you can’t make it along to Enchanted Christmas this year then take a look at our Instagram Story highlights instead and see what it’s like!


Disclaimer: Our admission to Enchanted Christmas was kindly gifted to us by Westonbirt Arboretum, in exchange for social media coverage and an honest blog review. We were offered discounted food at selected stalls but we paid for our drinks, travel and all other associated costs in full. All views expressed within this post and across social media are our own.

No comments:

Post a comment