Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Westonbirt Arboretum Enchanted Christmas

Westonbirt Arboretum lit in different colours, with title overlaid
On a chilly Friday evening, I went with my son, sister in law and two nephews, to visit Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum, where we had been offered free tickets in exchange for our review. Considering it's not that far away from me, I'm surprised to say, this is the first time I've ever visited Westonbirt and, after experiencing Enchanted Christmas, the next visit may seem like a bit of an anticlimax, when the trees are returned to their natural brown colour and no longer sparkling or glowing. If you are  wondering if there's enough to entertain two adults and a small assortment of boys, aged between five and twelve, here's how we got on.

For anyone who hasn't heard of it, Westonbirt is basically an outdoor tree museum, containing many rare species and an assortment of wildlife too, fashioned into a rather lovely forest walk. At Christmas, though, it's a very different picture involving lights and music. We got there at around 6pm and were given general entry wristbands, which meant we could enter the Forest Trail at any time, although some people had booked a slot to walk around. On walking through the entrance we could already see that this experience was going to be very different to any other forest sites we had visited. 

View from the entrance looking down on Westonbirt Enchanted Christmas, including the very colourful big wheel.

The event was very well organised, there were lots of Marshalls sorting out parking and telling people where to go. We headed for the trail straight away and found it was quite busy, but there was plenty of room to walk around. The trail is a little bit like Ikea, once you are on it, you are fairly committed and there isn't an obvious way to cut it short, so you should be prepared for quite a long walk. Having said that, I was pleased to note that the ground was suitable for buggies, wheelchairs or mobility scooters and we passed a few on our route. 

Trees lit up in lots of pretty colours

There really was a lot to see on the walk round. A surprise waited around every corner, and all the different light displays showed a lot of imagination and inventiveness. You really didn't know what to expect next. It wasn't just different coloured trees, there were hidden animal models to spot and even a little village of houses in amongst the foliage. It was good to know that the elves and fairies were well catered for, for their Christmas party with these disco lights! 

A clearing in the forest, lit up by a disco ball, reflecting shapes on the trees

The trail was punctuated by different activities and things to do, which really kept the boys attention.  I did find it quite hard to keep track of them all on the darker parts of the trail, and wished I had given them headlamps or glow bracelets, like some of the, clearly more experienced, parents had. They enjoyed trying to light up a tree by using pedal-power on a bike to power a generator and projecting their faces onto a tree trunk. Probably the part that mesmerised them the most was the light show set to music. I wish I could have got a video of it, because it was really entertaining, but you will have to make do with this photo, which I think should be called Close Encounters of the Third Kind! 

A light show, with streams of light coming up from the ground in a fan shape.

About halfway around the trail we came across a conveniently placed seating area, surrounded by shacks, selling drinks and food. Drinks included mulled wine and hot chocolate and I thought the hot chocolate was pretty reasonable at £1.60, although it wasn't actually very hot! There was also very little seating considering the amount of people who were visiting that night. There were a lot of people forced to stand, and I'm sure many of them would have preferred to sit and have a little rest after quite a long walk. There was another seating area and opportunity to buy drinks, so if you do go, bear this in mind, as it was much quieter! 

Lights wound around the trees, creating a Christmas display in the woods.

The second half of the trail was just as enchanting as the first and it didn't seem to take long at all to reach the end, even though I think the whole trail took over an hour and a half. At the end, we found a Christmas village which featured a couple of fairground rides and a Prize Every Time stall, at an additional cost, and stalls selling things like sweets and roasted chestnuts. There was also a craft tent where you could make a lovely tree decoration out of a pine cone and there were lots of knowledgeable staff to help, as well as Father Christmas, who was giving out free sticker books. I thought it was really lovely to find free things for the children to do, as this is quite rare at tourist attractions these days. It meant that, once you had paid your initial entrance fee, you could enjoy a few different activities without spending anymore money. 

A view of all the trees lit up different colours, with stars in the sky above.

By the time we went off to find the car and begin our journey home, we realised we had been there two and a half hours, which we thought was really good value for money. Additionally, the three boys, who are very different in age and can be hard to amuse all at the same time. had enjoyed the whole experience and not moaned once! Furthermore, it was a lovely, wholesome outdoor experience, which is pretty rare in the gloom of winter, but, of course, there is no gloom here, because everything is lit up. For all these reasons, I would highly recommend the Enchanted Christmas experience as a Christmas event for all the family to enjoy. 



  1. Oh how lovely and festive! I love all of the lights - so pretty!

  2. oh that looks so pretty, one thing i love about this time of year is the lights!

  3. We looked at going this year, I wish we had! I'll definitely be adding it to my list for next year. Love that they have free children's activities... there's nothing more annoying than paying to go in and then having to pay to do everything!

  4. It looks beautiful! I love this time of year with all the pretty lights everywhere

  5. Outdoor tree museum, that is very interesting indeed and this looks absolutely enchanting

  6. The lights look really beautiful. Love them all.

  7. This sounds amazing! I live around 20 minutes from Westonbirt and absolutely love visiting in the summer. I have been considering visiting for this but wasn't sure if it would be worth the money. I will definitely be booking tickets now so thanks for sharing!

  8. I am loving all the festive light displays this year

  9. This is beautiful and actually on my family experience bucket list. There's also an Enchanted Forrest in Perth, as well.

  10. Oh this looks so magical and a great place to take the family this Christmas, have been meaning to visit Westonbirt for such a long time

    Laura x


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