An Evening in The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry

17 Oct 2018

What do you get when you cross a forest, amazing light displays, the most relaxing musical soundscapes and the Scottish Highlands? A beautiful walk through The Enchanted Forest! I have a bit of a childlike fascination with all things interactive, pretty and charming in their ways. For example, I absolutely must touch all the soft things I pass on shopping trips or be amazed by little details in things, like in this video. Yes, I am 24 years old and no, I don't see this fascination dying out any time soon. And it's precisely because of this fascination that Alex booked us a little trip up to Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands to visit The Enchanted Forest.

Now, I hadn't even heard of The Enchanted Forest before Alex mentioned it (actually, he tried to keep it a secret, but he was too excited about it and ended up telling me where we were going a couple of weeks after he'd booked it) and I'm pretty surprised that I hadn't. It is the current winner of UK’s Best Cultural Event, the Scottish Outdoor Leisure Award for Best Outdoor Festival as well as Scotland’s Best Large Event, so it's a pretty big deal. And the numbers speak for themselves! Over 80,000 people make their way to the event every year from across the country - I'm pretty sure that we even heard a few Americans while we were there - and we were lucky to grab 2 tickets to this year's event, as they sold out pretty soon after!
You might be thinking, "this is all well and good Olivia, but what is The Enchanted Forest exactly?" Well, according to their FAQs, "The Enchanted Forest is an outdoor sound and light show which takes place at Forestry Commission Scotland's Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. Visitors will be treated to a series of choreographed sound and light shows while they follow the path around the forest. You should expect to be in the forest for between 60 to 90 minutes to fully appreciate the show. Most visitors walk around the forest more than once during their visit. Once you arrive in the forest you can stay as long as you like. The show closes at 10.30pm."

Each year, the show is designed around the theme, and the theme for this year is Of The Wild - Nature By Night, so we were expecting to see lots of animal-themed things and the trees being used prominently. Other themes have included Shimmer in 2016 and Elemental in 2014, which both sound incredible, but I was extremely excited by the prospect of animals. Again, the childlike fascination came into play.

Despite travelling up to the Highlands during Storm Callum, I think we got off pretty lightly when the evening of the show came around. It had been raining pretty much all day, but it eased off slightly as we wrapped up in our coats and scarves for the evening. We hopped on to the coach and we were welcomed by the voice of The Enchanted Forest for the year, Jessica, who ran us through some housekeeping and facts about the forest. I was amazed to learn that there are 23 species of tree in the forest, with some of them being around 200 years old! Each year, the team behind The Enchanted Forest run a competition to find a new "voice" for the event that will record a message to be played on the coaches to and from the forest, and I have to say, Jessica did a fab job.

In no time at all, we were off the coach and straight into the forest where we were instantly greeted by light and sound. And that was only the beginning!
According to The Enchanted Forest website, the event originally started in 2002 in the hopes of helping people to continue to embrace the woodlands of Scotland. "Faskally Wood used to welcome around 50,000 visitors annually. Thanks to the event’s popularity and success, over 120,000 people now visit every year. As the show goes from strength to strength, supporting the ecology in Faskally Wood is vitally important to the continued success of The Enchanted Forest."

And if you were worried at all about the environmental impacts that such an event might have, this is what the organisers have to say. "The Enchanted Forest appointed an independent environmental and wildlife impact assessor in 2016 to carry out a full wildlife and environmental impact assessment on the show. We have always been keen to ensure that the event has minimal impact on the beautiful environment in which we operate and the wildlife who call Forestry Commission Scotland's Faskally Wood their home. We are delighted to report that their findings concluded that our team takes all possible measures to minimise impact on the forest environment and that the wildlife in the forest show no signs of being affected by the activities surrounding the event. 

The Enchanted Forest works in close partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland, to enhance the natural features of the forest and an independent Environmental Impact Study in 2018 confirmed that the Enchanted Forest team takes all possible measures to minimise impact on the forest environment and the wildlife in the forest."
Everywhere we looked, there was some sort of illumination, whether it was a great big instalment, like the one you see in the image above (which could be seen almost from any given point in the forest) or much simpler lights that may illuminate a patch of trees in an interesting way. And with all of these lights came so much colour, from the richest of autumnal reds and golds, to cooler blues and purples. It was such a feast for the eyes and it really made me see the forest in a different way. I can't quite put my finger on it, but seeing trees lit up with lights and colour is so much more breathtaking than seeing a forest during the day.

When you combined these light displays with the sounds and music, I can't even begin to tell you how relaxed I felt. Again, the instalment in the image above had the most calming music to go along with it that matched up to the lighting of the orbs. It sounds confusing, but trust me, when I was watching the lights and listening to the sound, I felt like I could fall asleep. (If Alex puts a video together, I will insert it here so you can all enjoy it). It was clear that a lot of time and effort had been put into putting the whole things together, and it worked beautifully.

There were also plenty of interactive bits, which you know that I loved, including a giant light-up xylophone structure and handprint-activated sound clips.

Despite wanting to walk around the forest a couple of times, we actually ended up spending 2 hours on one loop, so we didn't get round a second time. We just spent so long taking photos, videoing and soaking the whole thing in! I have to say that my favourite bit was the short film projection on to the sheet of water on the loch (you can see a little bit of this on the header image), but overall, the whole experience was absolutely wonderful.
We headed back to our B&B on the coach, feeling very sleepy after all of the calming music that we'd heard, but full of chatter about all the things we'd seen. Even though the event is completely sold out for this year, I definitely recommend taking a look at it next year. It's well worth the trip up North, especially if you have kids, but even if you don't, it's an absolutely magical event for all ages.

After our trip to Pitlochry, we headed back down South slightly to Edinburgh, so keep your eyes peeled for my posts from there!

Whould you like to comment?

  1. Hi Olivia :-) This looks like such a magical event and a perfect place to visit this time of year. Your photos are wonderful too. You certainly get about, I love seeing what fab places you visit! Thanks for popping over to my blog last week. Take care. :-) Xx

    Helen | Helen’s Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog