All you need to know about the new Christmas trail Land of Lights Festival North 2023
A new festive lights trail has joined the list of popular illuminations events in the north-west of England.
The theme park Gulliver’s World Resort in Cheshire has launched its Land of Lights Festival 2023.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Land of Lights Festival North (there is another one in Milton Keynes).
What is it?
A lantern trail through 12 themed areas.
Visitors walk through illuminations including giant animal and monument lanterns, enjoying festive food and drink.
Where is it?
It is at Gulliver’s World Resort in Warrington, Cheshire.
What did we think?
This was a lovely, long route, longer than most festive trails, past a lake, through play areas which younger children made the most of and felt really magical in places with lots and lots of illuminations.
*Our favourite bit was a mesmerising walk through an insect and bug section with blue lights cascading down from above.
The insect-themed area
*It was great seeing all the different themed areas, ranging from dinosaurs in a Jurassic section through to skeletons in a Halloween part. Illuminations included Dennis the Menace, animals and Santa.
*A naughty highlight was a ride on the log flume – naughty as we found out afterwards, this wasn’t included in our lights package (see top tips).
*Offers – there is a Land of Lights Festival voucher code if you book for a date in January or February – LIGHTS20 gives you a 20 per cent discount.
*Will you get to go on any rides at Gulliver’s World? Not with just a ticket to the lights, this is a separate event. It can be a bit confusing as some of the rides might still be open for other guests – we had two goes on the log flume, without realising that we shouldn’t! Also not included is a Christmas show that visitors were queuing for and a train ride to Santa’s grotto. It is useful to know this before you go else it can get confusing particularly towards the exit and you don’t want your children spotting other things going on and being disappointed. There are different Christmas packages that include the various options if you want to do more than just the lights. One of the festive packages this year called Twinkle includes the Christmas activities (rides, North Pole Express, Elf Workshop and Santa’s Grotto) and also allows access to Land of Lights.
Dennis the Menace
*Gulliver’s Annual Passport holders must still by tickets and don’t receive any perks as this is a stand alone event, say organisers.
*What to wear? This is all outdoors so make sure to wrap up warm and bring waterproof clothes.
*There are some dog-friendly nights (they must be kept on a lead) on November 16 and 30, December 14 and 28, January 7 and 21 and February 4 and 18.
*Can you buy tickets at the event – yes, at the higher price if they have not sold out.
*There is no strobe lighting but some lantern features do include flashing, twinkling and colour changing lights.
Land of Lights Festival Warrington information
Dates: It runs until February 25, 2024.
Food: There is festive food and drink to enjoy at The Food Hub at Safari Kingdom where you can buy churros, Yorkshire pudding wraps, German sausages and drinks.
There are other drinks stalls around the trail. And Lagado’s Restaurant and Grill (next to the entrance and exit plazas) is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings if you prefer to sit down in the warm.
Opening hours: Depending on the night, it runs from about 4.45pm until 8pm or 9pm
Cost: Depending on the date – there are peak and off-peak dates), tickets bought in advance online are £15 or £19 for adults and children. Concessions £9 and £11.
Tickets not bought in advance are £18 or £22 for adults and children and £9 and £11 concessions.
Under-twos are free.
There is no senior rate, the concessionary rate is for those with a Blue Badge, DLA or PIP letter and their carer.
Best for: All ages.
Time needed: The trail takes around 90 minutes, depending on walking speed and how much you stop to eat, drink and look at the lights.
Access and restrictions: The route is mainly flat and firm, with some slight inclines.
There is a boardwalk which will not suit all mobility requirements but marshals will assist people on an alternative route if required.
Accessible toilets are available along the route.
Address: Gulliver’s World Resort, Old Hall, Warrington, Cheshire, WA5 9YZ.
Full guide and review of BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas – A Sparkly Light & Panto Trail
BeWILDerwood Cheshire’s first ever Christmas lights event has begun.
The woodland attraction is already an established favourite day out for lots of families since it opened last year.
And now lots are going to experience its Sparkly Light and Panto Trail by night.
We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview, here is everything you need to know.
BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas – A Sparkly Light & Panto Trail
What is it?
It is a light trail along new woodland pathways, a 10-minute pantomime, BeWILDerwood characters and a glimpse of Santa Claus himself, with a special gift for all children to take home.
A giant Christmas pudding
BeWILDerwood itself is a family attraction based on magical characters and their adventures from children’s books written by Tom Blofeld. The adventure park is all in woodland and includes treehouses, slides, den building, storytelling and zip wires – BeWILDerwood Cheshire – review, guide and top tips.
Where is it?
At BeWILDerwood Cheshire – north of Whitchurch on the A49 in south west Cheshire near the border with Shropshire.
What did we think?
This was a lovely Christmassy, magical evening out to get you in the festive mood.
It’s a lengthy walk along twinkly trails through gingerbread men, candy canes, disco lights, snowmen and more with occasional interactions with BeWILDerwood characters.
Halfway around is the mini pantomime and food stop, the second half of the walk is even better with Christmas trees, a lake and fake snow falling.
The 10-minute pantomime
As it was the launch night, we were lucky enough to talk to the BeWILDerwood author himself Tom Blofeld, who was walking the route to see everyone’s reactions.
He has written a new Christmas-themed story to add to his collection of books, which introduces new characters. There are glimpses of the story along the route.
*The staff are welcoming and friendly.
*There is hot chocolate available to buy before you begin the trail.
*There are a couple of parts in the second half where ‘snow’ falls – you will still be wearing dots of it in the car on the way home.
*Every child receives a copy of Tom Blofeld’s new Christmas story to take home as well as a craft.
*You get to see Santa at the end, you can wave at him but there is not a meet and greet or grotto situation.
*Tickets need to be booked in advance and you are given an arrival timeslot of 4pm, 4.30pm, 5pm, 5.30pm, 6pm or 6.30pm.
*The park closes at 8pm.
*This event runs when it is dark so all the play structures, zip wires, slides etc are closed. Also, parts of the trail are very dark such as around the pantomine area, you might need to use a phone light to see where you are going.
*Annual pass holders get free entry but still need to book a space by calling 01829 830 730.
Tom Blofeld’s books include A Boggle at Bewilderwood, The Bewilderbats and A Bewildermuddle.
He hopes the event will bring the magic of Christmas and the magic of BeWILDerwood together.
BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas – A Sparkly Light & Panto Trail information
Dates: It runs on selected dates from December 2 to 23.
Food: Food is available at the Munch Bar where there are warm snacks and hot drinks for sale including hot dogs, turkey baps, steak slices, cheese slices and picnic boxes for children including a ham or cheese roll and crisps.
Munch Bar menu
Opening hours: Time slots start at 4pm and the park closes at 8pm.
Cost: Tickets must be booked in advance online and cost £15.50 per person. Children under 92cm, carers and wheelchair users are free but everyone needs a ticket.
Best for: All ages.
Time needed: An hour and a half.
Access and restrictions: The trail is accessible for wheelchairs, pushchairs and mobility scooters but can be very dark, narrow, bumpy in places and may be muddy.
The woodland adventure where adults can join in the fun as well as the children
What is it?
BeWILDerwood Cheshire is a family attraction based on the adventures of magical characters from children’s books written by Tom Blofeld.
BeWILDerwood author and creator Tom Blofeld
It’s all in a wood and includes treehouses, slides, den building, storytelling and zip wires.
Where is it?
It’s north of Whitchurch on the A49 in south west Cheshire near the border with Shropshire.
What did we think?
This is a lovely day out for families.
It’s a great size and laid out nicely in a circle so it’s easier to navigate.
The best bit for me was that adults are encouraged to join in all the fun!
Racing my daughter on the zip wire
*The zip wires: There are three sets of two zip wires with staff helping people on and off them. They are longer and faster than the ones you get at play parks and exhilarating to do together.
*The slides: You grab a little bag to sit in to ride the ‘slippery slopes’.
*Parents included: the fact that children and grown-ups are all allowed on everything together is really fun.
*Toddlers: There are smaller sized versions of the equipment for really little ones to go on.
*The mazes: The mazes are all created from wood and go up and down steps and over little bridges.
*Get there early: We were there at 10am when it opened on a Sunday and got straight on everything and nowhere was crowded. After lunch, we spotted queues for the zip wires.
*Times: Make a note of the times for any events like the storytelling (every hour from 12noon) and get there early to get a seat.
*Crafts: There is a craft activity on every day so remember to leave time for this.
My daugher wears her creation
*Clothes and shoes: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes such as trainers. If the weather is wet, you may need a change of clothes.
*Other BeWILDerwood sites: This is the second Bewilderwood, the first is in Norfolk.
*How to pronounce BeWILDerwood: the WILD is not pronounced wild but willed – I asked as I like to know these things.
Food: You can buy food and drink from two places – the Munch Bar and Cosy Cabin.
There are lots of places to eat a picnic.
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm, last entry at 4pm.
Cost: Prices are based on height and everything is included in the cost. Under 92cm are free, 92cm to 105cm are £17.50, those over 105cm are £19.50. Adults 65 and over are £12.50. Wheelchair users are free. Parking is free.
Best for: Children aged 2 – 12 but adults will enjoy it too.
Time needed: We stayed for four hours but you could stay longer.
Access and restrictions: There’s a path around the site which slopes in places. There is no access on the equipment for wheelchairs or pushchairs/buggies/prams but they can be taken in to the park.
Read our review of all the best bits of the fabulous Tatton Park in Cheshire plus the costs for National Trust members
What is it?
Tatton Park is one of England’s largest historic estates – it has a stately home, 50 acres of landscaped gardens, 1,000 acres of parkland with deer and meres. There is also a working farm and large playground.
Where is it?
Tatton Park is near Knutsford in Cheshire a few miles from junction 19 of the M6 motorway.
What do we think?
There are so many options for children on a day out here, truly something for everyone. You can explore the parkland for just £6 a day for a family – or pay extra for the other attractions.
The park is vast with plenty of different areas to explore.
There are two large meres where sailing takes place, woodland walks with deer to spot and places to picnic.
The wide paths through the park for cars are also popular with cyclists and supervised children on bikes and scooters.
You can park at different points inside (it is £6 per car, there is no National Trust discount for parking).
The gardens cost extra (free for National Trust members) but can be a quieter, different and beautiful area to enjoy on busy days.
They begin with fruit and vegetable patches before expanding off a central path to some fabulous areas.
Our particular favourites are around the Japanese Gardens (you can only venture inside on a guided tour) and the bridges over the pools. There is quite a tricky maze, regular family trails to follow, a fun scarecrow hunt in February, Easter Egg hunts at Easter time and other activities all year round.
Note – you are not allowed picnics, bikes or scooters in the gardens.
The peaceful Japanese Garden at Tatton Park
A five-minute walk from the main car park is Tatton Park farm. Entry is £7 for adults, £5 for children (half price for NT members). It is a traditional 1930’s working farm with pigs, horses, donkey and chickens.
There are old tractors to sit on and Aunt Mary’s 1940’s cottage. In one barn you can ride on toy cars and tractors.
Next to the farm is a good adventure playground, picnic area and woodland trails.
Pigs are just one of the animals at Tatton’s working farm
Home to the Egerton family, the house contains a huge library and other artefacts.
The main interest for children is exploring the large servants’ kitchen and living quarters, which are nicely done. The mansion is used for events at Easter and Christmas geared to children.
There is a huge playground next to the main car park which is always very busy.
There is often a small train to take children from the playground to the farm (at a cost). Burger and ice cream vans are on site too.
In the main stables courtyard near the garden’s entrance there is often a couple of carousels (£2.50 a go). There are also two restaurants – a large self-service area and the smaller Gardeners’ Cottage.
Unlike most National Trust sites, National Trust members still have to pay to park at Tatton Park, which costs £6, unless you park in Knutsford and walk in, but it is quite a walk to the main part.
However, entry to the house and gardens is free to National Trust members and entry to the farm is half price.
Tatton Park is geared towards children – you can have fun here without entering any of the paid attractions but if you do choose – the farm and gardens are the best value.
Our top tips
*Enter Tatton Park from the smaller, less-used Knutsford entrance and you can drive through the park to get a feel for it and park next to Melchett Mere for a good picnic spot.
Tatton Park information
Food: Picnics are welcome, except in the gardens. There are two cafes/restaurants in the courtyard, near the garden’s entrance – a large self service area called the Stables Restaurant, perfect for children and the smaller and more formal Gardeners’ Cottage. There is also a shop selling ice creams.
Opening hours: It varies depending on the time of year and the farm is open at more limited times, check here for details.
Cost: Car parking costs £7 (even to National Trust members). A Totally Tatton family ticket to all attractions is £33. Adult ticket £7 per attraction, child (aged four to 15) £5. National Trust members – free entry to gardens and mansion, half-price entry to farm.
Best for: ages three to 10.
Time needed: Doing every attraction is a full day out. Visiting the park for a walk or bike ride can be done in 90 minutes.
Access and restrictions: All Tatton’s shops and the Stables Restaurant are fully accessible to wheelchair users. Electric buggies (gardens only) and manual wheelchairs are available for loan but can not be used to move between attractions and in the park. Book a wheelchair loan on 01625 374400.
Address: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN.
Have you been to Tatton Park? Do you like it as much as we do? Let us know in the comments.
(Pictures in this article are courtesy of National Trust Images and Tatton Park).