We haven’t been to Longleat for many years and I really wanted to make it before Christmas for Longleat Festival of Light. My birthday fell on a Sunday so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit. Having left it too late and tickets sold out, we compromised and visited after Christmas instead,
Longleat Festival of Light is open until early January so if you don’t make it before Christmas then all isn’t lost. It’s worth buying your tickets well in advance as the park does reach maximum capacity on busy days.
We made the most out of our day and purchased Festival of Light day tickets to include the Winter safari and park access. Longleat Safari park is a day out in itself without staying after dark for the Festival of Light so you really can get your money’s worth visiting during the Winter season.
Longleat Safari Park is based in Wiltshire, almost next door to Center Parcs, and I can imagine it’s a popular place to visit on check out days from Center Parcs.
The lights for Longleat Festival Of Light are turned on just before it gets dark. The actual time will be on your park information sheet given to you as you arrive at Longleat. Yesterday the lights were turned on at 4pm.
We noticed that staff were starting to herd people towards the main square in front of Longleat house fifteen minutes before the lights were turned on. This felt quite disorientating at the time, however as we began walking around the Festival Of Light we realised that the walking paths were made clearer for us which really helped.
Longleat Festival Of Light tells the story of brother and sister, Harry and Bea with their Terrier dog Monty as they travel the world exploring.
The journey begins in Egypt in front of a huge pyramid. You are greeted with a huge expanse of stunning light decorations and information boards to follow the story around. The views are really something else.
Whilst there is no right or wrong way to experience the lights, we loved that you didn’t have to follow in a certain sequence to enjoy it all.
When we started our walk around the Festival of Light it wasn’t quite dark, but we soon realised that it doesn’t have to be dark to enjoy the lights. We didn’t really notice it getting pitch black during our wander around the park as there was so much to look at.
You can purchase Festival of Light tickets without having a day ticket to the park, and we did notice the influx of people arriving after 3pm that were obviously there to see the Festival of Light.
Despite this, it didn’t feel too crowded as we were wandering around. There was plenty of space to stop and read the signs, take plenty of photos and really take it all in.
It was a cold day yesterday with temperatures only reaching 6 degrees Celsius. Having spent the majority of the day outside exploring, we were all quite chilly by the time we go back to the car. It’s worth remembering to wrap up well, and perhaps enjoy a hot chocolate on your way around the trail.
The Festival of Light story this year takes you via some amazing sights, with a nod to the safari park animals which I thought was a great touch. There were so many amazing scenes and stories that I cannot pick out any top favourites.
I did love the underwater section that was the other side of the park (though not too far to walk), as it featured some amazing colours through the fish and sea plants. Harry and Bea even had special effects of water in their underwater diving helmets which was a lovely touch.
I’m really glad we managed to visit Longleat Festival Of Light before it finishes for the season. Despite it being on over the festive season, as you can see it’s not a festive trail so would be amazing in the dark at any time.
During the Festival of Light between November and January, the park generally closes around 7pm, although check the times guide for daily accurate times as these may change. It’s also worth noting that if you want to visit the Safari as well during your visit, the last entry is mid afternoon.
The whole of the Festival of Light is situated on wide flat paths so it’s accessible to everyone. If you have been wondering whether to visit then I can highly recommend it.