The Enchanted Forest
This is not your average walk in the woods! We had been looking forward to this for some time, in fact, for over 2 years we have thought about going, only to find that tickets were sold out for the season. Set within the Faskally Woods on the outskirts of Pitlochry, lies the Enchanted Forest where each year a festival of light creates an awe-inspiring optical entrancement. Quite simply, it was beautiful, mesmerizing, enchanting, captivating, and colourful.
As a family, we made the day of it. Starting off in Aberdeen, we caught the lunchtime movie showing of 'Earth: One Amazing Day' at the cinema, then it was onwards to Smugglers Cove in Sunset Boulevard for, what could honestly have been, hours of fun. By this time, darkness was setting in and that was our cue to crack on! The back of the car got very quiet, which is often a good sign. We arrived in Pitlochry with time to spare. Our showtime pickup was at 9:00pm leaving us around 30mins to get our cozy clothes on, and the hiking backpack loaded. Given that Maverick is under 2 years old, it was going to be past 9:00pm, and around a 1.8km hike, the backpack was necessary to carry him along for the ride.
Obviously, this is a well oiled operation. What initially seemed like an endless line of people, slowly dwindled by the bus load every 5-10mins. It was like one bus after the other as part of a convoy. We joined the line and didn't have to wait long. We got on the bus and took the 5min journey outside Pitlochry and into the Forestry Commission Scotland's Faskally Wood. We stepped off the bus amidst great 'kid fuelled' excitement. The trees were glowing in all sorts of hues and colours. Set amidst a stunning autumn woodland, it was evident just why The Enchanted Forest is Scotland’s premier sound and light event. Winner of the UK's Best Cultural Event, as well as Scotland's Best Large Event, it is a must see for any and all ages. Having eagerly anticipated this trip, I was caught between racing ahead to see, and taking the time to soak it all in. As we followed the winding path, following other excited visitors, we'd naturally slowed at all the picture perfect spots and points of interest. Camera's were out, and smiles were fixed all around us. Throughout the trail there were a number of choreographed sound and light shows including a Cascading Bridge, Digital Rain, Liquid Sunshine, and Flow. Two more dynamic shows were the Oir An Uisge, and the grand finale Belisima. One celebrating nature's most abundant substance, and the other celebrating the majesty of lochs, lakes, and rivers of the highlands through light and sound. Oir An Uisge (Or-An-Oosh-Kah) translates as Edge of the Water and is the name and theme of this years show. The trail itself can take anywhere from 60-90mins, as you navigate turns, admire the displays, take in and absorb the show. On route are signposted toilet stops, as well as two food and drink areas. A warm and cosy hot chocolate usually hits the spot, but you can get tea, coffee, burgers, hotdogs, chilli, soup, muffins, among other munchies if your feeling peckish.
We very deliberately took our time throughout the woods to really enjoy and revel in it's enchantment. Through the "ooh's, aah's, and wow's", both of our kids were mesmerized by the lights, the colours, and the waltzing waters. At such a young age, planting such great memories of magic and wonder feels so rewarding. Each display was explained, named and created by a person, group, or collaboration. For the kids (and big kids), there is a fire pit for toasting marshmallows, and a Yurt for storytelling every 30mins. We were among the stragglers that got on the last bus home. Another short bus ride back into our rendezvous point then it was time to bid farewell. Each year the show is different, however with this being our first, we can't speak too much to previous years. It's certainly a star attraction and a massive boost to tourism and foot traffic in Pitlochry for a month between October and November each year.
After such a fun-filled day, and memories stored away for a lifetime, we will look ahead to coming back again next year and making it something of an annual tradition. Only next time, we will just have to make a weekend of it. With a friendly atmosphere, cosy cafe's and quaint shops, it almost draws you in. See you next year.