Unless you've actually been living in a wood for the past fourteen years, you will know that The Enchanted Forest is Perthshire's award-winning sound and light show held annually at Faskally Woods just outside Pitlochry. This year the increasingly popular event is running from Thursday 1st October-Sunday 1st November, and Small City were invited along to a preview night which seemed like a great opportunity to write about it for our brand new family section!
Around 50,000 visitors who book tickets this year will experience a series of choreographed sound and light shows while following a fully-accessible path - and it really is comfortably wide enough for a buggy! - through the woods and around Faskally loch.
Our journey began as it has in previous years at the Fishers Hotel on the main Street, where your pre-booked ticket will correspond to the time of a coach which leaves the hotel and takes you into the heart of the forest in a matter of a few minutes. I say this because when you're doing anything with kids or a baby, you want to know its going to happen EXACTLY where and when you expect it to!
The event staff and coach drivers couldn’t have been more helpful; they dismantled Freya’s pram to store in the luggage hold and even re-assembled it at the other end so it was ready and waiting for us getting off the bus! You enter the forest via a clearing which has a great selection of warm food and drinks to fill up on before setting off on the trail.
The trail itself is 1.8km long and can be walked at a brisk pace in 20 minutes, although in order to appreciate the surroundings and take in the show I would recommend anticipating at least twice that time. I also suspect that in years from now when Freya is out of the pram it may well take much longer - already she was enthralled with the lights and music and all thoughts I'd had about whether or not she was too young left me immediatley. She absolutely loved it!
Once in the forest visitors are welcome to do as many laps as they like of the figure of eight shaped path and can return to Pitlochry via any of the shuttle buses which arrive approx. every 10 minutes. (Handy for older children's cries of 'Just Once More' I'm sure!). We’ve been to the Enchanted Forest in previous years and always felt that the whole operation runs like a well-oiled machine - which is especially important if you are relying on getting home for some sort of reasonable kid's bedtime!
Every year the show has a theme and this years, called ‘Flux’, is all about movement, waves and energy. FLUX has been designed by a creative team led by Derek Allan including Scottish lighting designers Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes, and specially composed and recorded music, and sound effects by RJ McConnell and Jon Beales. Together they have created a dazzling and engaging show which celebrates the stunning woodland setting of the event.
One of the lighting designers explained to the group before we set off that the original ‘goal’ behind the first Enchanted Forest was to encourage people to explore the woodland and get them to look up rather than down, as you normally would in the woods. This basic concept is still behind everything that they design and the phenomenal amount of work and skill that goes into the creation of the show is evident, and leaves a real impact.
The show was officially pronounced open by Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland who was in attendance along with his family. Turns out he agrees with #RhonaRecommends!
“As the current winner of our prestigious Thistle Award for Best Event, The Enchanted Forest continues to go from strength to strength and I’m delighted to see that this year’s show is more spectacular than ever before.
The creative team at The Enchanted Forest has an exceptional way of refreshing their approach every year to create a unique event that showcases Scotland’s natural landscape at its very best. This is a must-see event this autumn for people of all ages, one of the best shows I’ve seen all year."
There’s a few wee surprises along the way such as an amazing treetop display by aerial artists All or Nothing, and a great storytelling Yurt for wee ones to go and be entertained by tales of fairies and forest magic. I was peeping in, smling at thoughts of the years to come when she'll be old enough to sit and enjoy the stories.
I cant help but feel that we’re so lucky to have an event like this on our doorstep in Perthshire and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a great family outing. There are definitely worse things to do on an autumn evening than wrap up and wander around Faskally Woods together sipping warm mulled wine and hot chocolate!
The Enchanted Forest 2015 runs from Thursday 1st October – Sunday 1st November. Proceeds from the first night’s show on Thursday 1st October was split equally between three charities: PKAVS, CHAS and Scottish Autism.
More information and tickets are available from the Enchanted Forest official website here.