Last weekend I visited Longleat with my family, we were meant to go in March when we spent a week at Center Parcs, but we were snowed in and the safari park was closed. We were able to then visit the park whenever we wanted by the end of the year, my weekends, especially Saturdays are usually hectic due to being at uni on some Saturdays, working every other Saturday and having plans with friends already pre-booked! So, this week was the only Saturday I had left for the rest of the year, and it happened to be the day the Festival of Lights started. I went to the Festival of Lights two years ago as a day trip, seeing as I lived in Bristol and was only an hours journey away and even for four twenty-something year olds we were mesmerised by the lights, so I knew that going with my two nieces (aged four and seven) that they’d absolutely love the adventure!
It was the rainiest day, taking the two hour drive up to Warminster was a hard one as you could barely see in front of you. Fortunately, the weather wasn’t that horrendous when we arrived, quite a lot of the stuff can be enjoyed under shelter so even on the worst weather day, you aren’t that limited. Having travelled in two cars, we wanted to book the safari bus so that we could all be together, and so that the Monkeys didn’t rip anything off my beloved Fiat 500! It was a busy day and we were lucky to get seats on the last bus, we’d booked it around 10.30am, so if you want to get onto the safari bus on your trip, ensure as soon as you get there to visit the visitor center, so you aren’t left disappointed.
There is so much to discover, so make sure you get to Longleat early so that you can squeeze everything in. Especially when you’re with kids as they do like to take their time and explore everything. The first stop was the penguins, I love a penguin and would happily spend the entire day just watching them, the girls loved them too!
We then headed for the Rays, where you can get up close and personal with them and even touch them! The girls loved being able to get really close to the fish and having the opportunity to give them a quick feel.
Our next stop was the jungle cruise, where you jump on board a boat and head down the lake to spot the gorillas, hippos and the lively sea lions. The sea lions come up really close the boat and even I got excited to spot them! You could purchase some fish on board and then feed them, meaning you could get an even better eye on the eager sea lions as they leapt for the fish.
We then took our time wandering through the butterfly house, checking out the reptiles and even petting a snake. Our safari bus tour started at two and we were told to be there at least half an hour early to get in queue for a good seat. It cost us £5 per person for a seat on the bus and is definitely something I’d recommend if you’re in a big group and not wanting to go home with a number plate or wing mirror missing! The tour guide on the bus thoroughly made our trip with stories, the trip took around two hours and we saw everything from the mischievous monkeys, enormous elephants and luxurious lions. Sadly, it was too cold so we couldn’t see another favourite of mine, the giraffes! I’d love to come back in the summer months, where there’s a higher chance of the animals being out and you can even hop off in the African Village and walk around to get a better glimpse of the giraffes.
The lights get switched on around 4.30pm when it gets dark, this year it was focused on a fantastic voyage, taking you around the world on an adventure. Two years ago, it was focused on Beatrix Potter, here’s a few images of the 2016 Beatrix Potter year before some of this years:
This year again, did not disappoint, it’s mesmerising and truly incredible how it all comes to life:
Lastly, we watched the Christmas tree show and if you weren’t already feeling Christmassy, then you will after seeing this! With an array of Christmas songs and the different effects the tree has, it had me feeling in the proper Christmas spirit.
I would highly recommend Longleat and the Festival of Lights, it was an incredible day and you definitely need longer than a day to visit, so if you are thinking of making a trip, maybe find somewhere near by to stay and visit over two days. If you’re looking at heading to Wiltshire over the Christmas period, why not pop to the Bath Christmas Market (which is incredible!), I’ll be heading their next week and will be posting another blog about it, so keep your eyes peeled!
Have you been to Longleat or the Festival of Lights before? Let me know in the comments below!