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Longleat’s Festival of Light

The Longleat’s Festival of light takes place about 18 km’s outside of Bristol, in the UK,” says Robin Woodward. “This year’s theme is The Magic of Storytelling: ‘Once upon a time, in a land surrounded by wonder; where lions roar, Christmas trees sing, and stories come to life, there was a Festival of Light.”

Stunning Chinese lanterns light up Longleat once more and bring to life the magic of storytelling. Drawing inspiration from classic tales, visitors will be transported into a world of fantasy – a land where mermaids swim, princesses live, firebirds fly and dragons roar!

Sometimes promotional write ups can oversell an event, this is not the case with Longleat’s Festival. The Panorama’s are incredible and the Lantern walk, a one-way route, that starts at 4.30pm is accompanied by ethereal music that enhances the atmosphere.

“The Chinese lanterns are large and well-constructed, lit from inside, they glow brightly.”

The stories covered include, Snow White and the Severn Dwarfs, Hansel and Gretel, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast and the Nutcracker.

Each themed area has a relevant quotation from the story. The Little Mermaids panorama includes a ship on the lake with moving mermaids in the water and the quotation reads: ‘The little mermaid rose as lightly as a bubble to the surface of the water. A large ship with three masts, lay becalmed on the sea. There was music and song on board. A handsome young prince came out of the cabin; the little mermaid could not take her eyes from the ship or the beautiful prince.’

Scattered across the grounds of this stunning stately home are additional displays together with a huge Enchanted Christmas tree with a sound and light show repeating throughout the event.

Longleat’s Festival of Light is back and available on selected dates up to 7th January 2018. Tickets for the Festival of Light can be bought online at www.longleat.co.uk/festival-of-light 

“You can also choose to visit for the day and include a visit to the Safari park to see the famous Lions of Longleat together with Wolves, Zebras, Flamingos, Deer’s, Camels, Vultures Warthogs Rhino’s etc…”

This self-drive takes around 2 hours and must be started by 2.30pm it starts from the African Village where you can walk through the Ring-tailed lemur enclosure and get close to these stunning creatures as they wrap their tails around themselves like a scarf.  At the village there is large Giraffe enclosure as Longleat are aligned to a global breeding program of this graceful creatures.

The monkey enclosure drive through is optional as these intelligent primates have a taste for the rubber parts of cars such as windscreen wipers. I watched in awe as two worked together to remove a 2m strip from the roof of car in front. Discarding it with contempt as soon as it was removed.

There are various zoo style animal enclosures around the house including penguins and sting rays and you can even feed the birds with nectar. They actually land on you and feed from a tiny cup that you hold in your hand. There is also an animal petting house where you can have a tarantella walk on you or hold a snake, allegedly there’s also a Guinea pig available unless of course the snake gets there first.

A short walking tour of the Stately home is included complete with entertaining actors dressed in Victorian garb interacting with the visitors.  The lady of the house chided me for suggesting the 6 bottles of sparkling wine in the dining room may be Prosecco explaining in an oh so posh voice, ‘Only Champagne!’ Between the huge rooms, you could fit a house in most of them, maids in character, dust the walls and will chat with the visitors giving an insight into life downstairs in a Victorian stately home.

A large maze and river cruise to Gorilla island together with an optional extra train ride to Santa’s Grotto make Longleat a full day trip for adults and children alike.

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