Last week we had an inset day (hurrah!) so headed off to Longleat – Festival of Light for the day. This year the theme is ‘The Magic of Storytelling’. Having been last year to the Peter Rabbit lights, and loved it, we had pretty high expectations. Yet again it was a magical day and if you haven’t been I’d really recommend it. Although, I know from when we booked that all weekend tickets are booked up for the rest of the year, but there might be space after Christmas and around New Year or one to add to next year’s calendar and book up quickly!
This year we went with our lovely friends and had two rather ‘excitable’ older children. The theme of storytelling included favourite fairytales such as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and many more. Here’s my top tips for your visit:
- Book online, you’ll save 10%.
- Leave super early, earlier than you think you’ll need to! Doors open at 10am.
- Go and do the safari first.
- Stop in the African Village, see the giraffe, lemurs and do the wallaby walk. It’s also good for a loo stop and a hot drink plus a little run around for the kids after a car journey.
- Back in the car with a picnic lunch for the safari. There’s no other stop to get out after the African Village.
- Only take on the monkey enclosure if you’re not too precious about losing things from your car. It’s brilliant fun and the monkey’s come onto the cars and the kids love it. We have been through a couple of times, once in an older car where they pinched some washers from our bonnet (made it an expensive day) and more recently in a newer car and new cars seem to be a bit harder for them to pinch parts off!!
- You can feed deer on your journey so have a few £1 coins in the car to buy the food.
- The last entry to the safari is 2pm during the Festival of Light.
- After doing the safari head over and park by the house.
- Here there is plenty to do outside – there’s a brilliant castle park but note this closes at 3.30pm with the last entry at 3pm. There is a small indoor soft play area in there and it’s brill for big and little kids so worth getting there early and getting in there!!
- There’s an animal section with penguins, rays (kids loved those), birds, a butterfly house and an area where you can hold animals such as snakes, spiders, cockroaches (ewww!) and giant snails (bigger ewww!).
- There’s a maze, a rhino ride and another play area for younger kids which is open all the time. There’s loads to do in the main square – you can check it all out here.
- There’s plenty of outdoor food and drink places – expect some queues – serving chips, hot dogs, jacket potatoes, waffles mulled wine, mince pies and donuts.
- There’s also several places to eat inside – expect these to be busy – including Costa, the Pizza Piazza (we queued for a good half hour there last year) and The Tropical Storm Cafe. This year we ate in the Tropical Storm Cafe and the buffet food choices were great, they included fish and chips, burgers, beef enchiladas, curry, mac and cheese, something for everyone in our group of 5! I’m not sure on catering for dietary requirements so I’d check the website for that.
- It’s open until 7.30 for the light festival and the last entry to the House is at 7pm.
- Head to the lights when it gets dark (around 4.30pm) and allow plenty of time as it’s quite long and there can be queues in busy periods. Remember a ton of warm clothing!!
- After seeing all the lanterns there is a wonderful singing and story telling Christmas tree. With a show that is projected onto the walls of the house and on the tree, it’s a nice immersive experience and brilliant fun for the kids. It lasts about 15-20 mins and is on every half hour or so.
- Take wellies for kids as the car park can be quite muddy and maybe some plastic bags or something to put muddy shoes on to save the car.
- We took pj’s and got the kids changed in the car so they could be transferred easily to bed when we got home. We didn’t leave until gone 7pm so it’s quite a long day.
Here’s some of our pics from our day. If you have other tips, feel free to add them below!!