Each year Longleat is transformed into an enchanting illuminated wonderland during the festive season.
Despite living so close to Longleat, I’ve never managed to make it to the Festival of Light, but on Friday 9th November, I was invited to the preview night and I was excited to experience it having seen photos of the incredible lantern displays from previous years.
After a champagne reception and canapés in the beautifully decorated Great Hall, the Festival of Light was declared open and the lanterns were switched on by Viscount and Viscountess Weymouth. It was pouring with rain, but it didn’t dampen our spirits and we were determined to explore the many three-dimensional scenes.
Each year the Festival of Light has a different theme and this time the lanterns follow brother and sister Harry, Bea and their faithful pet pooch Monty on an epic adventure around the world. Travelling through time, you walk amongst dinosaurs, journey under the sea, visit the snowy Arctic, voyage around the solar system and more!
From an amazing 20 metre pyramid to a castle besieged by knights in armour, the lanterns are really impressive. There are 1000 of them altogether and they took more than 7000 hours to complete by a team of highly-skilled Chinese artists.
We embraced the opportunity to shelter from the rain and warm up in the Longhouse where they tell the story of A Flight Before Christmas featuring majestic feathered friends. As the story is told, owls swoop over the audience and there’s no telling where they’ll decide to land; I kept my hat on just in case they thought my head would be a good spot to perch! The birds are so regal with their huge wingspans, and it was amazing to see them up close.
The Festival of Light was even more magical than I anticipated, and it was the perfect way to kick off the lead up to Christmas.
There’s also a ginormous Enchanted Christmas Tree Show playing festive favourites and a Santa Train which transports children to meet the man himself in his wintry woodland grotto, so it’s the ideal festive family day out.
Longleat Festival of Light runs until 6th January 2019 so make sure you don’t miss it before it gets packed away for another year.