Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light 2020!
Last year was the first time I’d been to see the Thursford Christmas Spectacular and I was absolutely blown away. It was all kinds of brilliant in many different ways and I had, of course, been looking forward to seeing how they could top it for 2020 (apparently somehow they do manage every year to make it even bigger, even better and even more of a spectacle than the year before and a 43 year reputation of greatness lies at their feet)! Alas… COVID collateral rides once more and the show cannot go on (just for this year) but they have, instead, created their all new Enchanted Journey of Light to fill the gap their wonderful show would have left and to not leave their fans (people literally do come from all over the country to see it) bereft without at least a sprinkling of the Thursford Christmas magic they know and love!
We were invited to the press preview of all things enchanted and all things light at Thursford and were equally as mesmerised with it as I had been with the show last year. This one off event promises that when twilight falls, the magic will begin and it didn’t disappoint!
The journey begins in the main auditorium for an indoor Wonderland Trail of a maze of engines, fairy-tale characters and an immersive experience of light and sound including one of the UK’s biggest kinetic light displays. The light show replaces the actual show and is projected from the station platform like stage. In its own right this element is truly captivating and unlike anything else I’ve seen, it was almost like we were inside the light show as we watched, stood where the seats would usually be laid out and packed to the rafters and it felt surreal to be so quiet and calm of other people (social distancing is done very well) and yet be so immersed in the “performance”!
Wandering through the enchanted trail partitioned by magical steam engines (Thursford is, in the rest of the year a steam museum) just before the light show was also quite surreal and wonderful and more Christmassy than a Hallmark movie of the highest order. It was literally Christmas in a box and watching others I could see their eyes as glittering as my own while for the children, oh it must have been even more wonderful for them. I was asked a lot as I storied my way around on Instagram if it would be suitable for very young children and I have to say the answer is an emphatic yes. The sensory element alone would be pure magic for even the youngest of babies – this really is one for the whole family to enjoy together regardless of age. The vast decorations covering each corner of the building are JUST like the show which explodes Christmas from every angle and with so much to feast the eyes on it would be hard not to enjoy the festive vibe. If you don’t yet feel like Christmas has arrived then perhaps you need to visit Thursford because I’d be very surprised if you left without it being right in the centre of your heart!
Next was into Santa’s Magical Journey Building (sadly Santa is currently ICE-olating so we didn’t get to see him but we didn’t lose his magical touches on the journey one bit). Past the penguins and polar bears leads to giant-sized teddy bears and the elves who are helping to load Santa’s sleigh with the toys they have created in the factory before wrapping them using the wondrous wrapping machine! The children were very keen to take a peek in the work shop through the window and marvel at all the presents on the shelves – one or two might be coming their way of course!
Throughout the journey there’s lots of opportunities to meet fantasy land characters including the snowman family and it even continues as you are asked to venture outside into a 4 acre Lantern Light Extravaganza! A festival of luminous sculptures from a fantasy forest of jungle animals to the wilds of the North Pole creates a lasting memory of sheer and utter wonderful Christmas beauty that the kiddos and I (as well as Gram – Daddy couldn’t finish work on time to make it) absolutely adored. The outside bit was almost the best part for me as it was SO unusual and different to anything else I’d seen. It sort of made me think about dancing at an all nighter back in the 90s on the one hand and like I was in Willy Wonka’s factory on the other. Very ambiently unusual and absolutely worth seeing – top tip, wear wellies for this bit if it was very wet like last night as I don’t know about yours but my kids can’t resist a puddle and resist they did not!
And at the end of the trail there is a fair ground of old fashioned proportions which we had to have a little go on. Tokens cost £1.20 each and the rides are mainly 2 or 3 tokens in price. They let my Mum go on free with Raffie which was rather nice as I’d begrudge having to pay to go on a baby ride just because my toddler wasn’t big enough to go on his own. I’m tight like that I guess but it’s those little touches which make a difference to parents!
Now we don’t wish for a second that the usual spectacular be canned but it does feel a bit sad that this is only going to be a one off event because it really is a sight to behold. Thursford couldn’t leave anyone wanting this year and have gone all out – Maybe, just maybe, they will be able to bring a slice of the Enchanted Journey of Light back on other years when we can perhaps simply have it all. More is more and all that – especially at Christmas!
Tickets are to be booked in advance on line here or by calling the box office on 01328 878 477 – they cost £18 per person. There is currently fairly limited availability left between now and the 10th of January 2020 so get booking fast! Worth noting that on the 7th of December The Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light will be hosting a relaxed afternoon with quieter, softer music and less queues for those who need it. I’ve been asked if I think the price is worth it a lot on my Instagram DMs so my answer is yes. Yes it is. It IS expensive but you do get what you pay for and if you can afford to go then I think absolutely it is well worth the ticket price. Obviously it doesn’t make a cheap day out for larger families like my own so plan it well and make the most of everything there by savouring it all and holding onto the fact that 2020 can still have Christmas magic – if you know where to find it – and now, of course, you absolutely do!
We were invited to press evening.