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Deck the Hall: Wollaton gets set to host Christmas Lights Spectacular

23 November 20

This year has been full of compromises, tough decisions and – unfortunately – disappointment for many. As we lean into colder, gloomy nights, there are still question marks over Christmas 2020, and how we will be allowed to celebrate. While we already know we won’t be warmed by a bonfire at Forest Rec or filled with mulled wine in the Market Square, there is a light in the dark – Christmas at Wollaton, a light-up outdoor experience set to fill us all with wonder…  

If the pandemic has taught the world anything, it’s to be grateful for every little thing we’ve got. As things currently stand, as a country we’re all still unsure whether we’ll get to share a cracker with our cousins or pass Secret Santa around the office. But, in typical 2020-fashion, folk have banded together to ensure we can celebrate in new, and COVID-friendly, ways. 

Christmas at Wollaton is a multi sensory experience of light, fire and sound that is due to brighten up the Wollaton Hall and Deer Park throughout the festive period, putting a contemporary twist on the classic seasonal tradition. The event has been designed by Manchester-based production company dbnAudile in collaboration with Salford-based outdoor arts company Walk The Plank, the former having designed productions all over the world. From the opening performance for Turku European Capital of Culture 2010 in Finland, which took place on a frozen river, or the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi, Stephen Page and the team from dbnAudile know how to grab an audience’s attention. “Whatever the event, lighting is a vital ingredient which can create drama, emotion and impact,” says Stephen. Gaining his experience running lighting and sound for clubs and events in Manchester’s late eighties rave scene, this will be no amateur production. 

Visitors are invited to an enchanted walk around the park. As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a fairy light-lit entryway, making your way towards the festive forest, full of organic sculptures of both light and fire. Travel through the light tunnel, and you’ll come across a romantic, moon-lit glade before you stroll down a carpet made of rainbows to the heat and flame zone, where you’ll be bathed in an amber glow. At the end of the road, you’ll be greeted with a dramatic finale designed to take your breath away. 

“Wollaton Hall provides a huge scope and an exciting opportunity for a lighting designer to work,” adds Stephen. “There are lots of different elements we have to consider, from the natural landscape to the more formal gardens as well as the hall itself. We want to take the visitor on a beautiful journey and allow them to interact with the setting in a new context, as well as to create lots of ‘wow’ moments.”

We want to take the visitor on a beautiful journey and allow them to interact with the setting in a new context, as well as to create lots of ‘wow’ moments

Just like many other creative industries who have had to be adaptable to COVID measures, the folks behind Christmas at Wollaton have done everything to ensure the experience will be safe for everybody to attend, with full social distancing measures in place. There will be limited capacity time slots with staggered entry and additional cleaning across both the route and the food and drink suppliers each night. 

The event will run from Friday 4 December 2020 to Wednesday 6 January 2021, so there’s plenty of opportunity for you to soak up that festive feeling. Plus, there’s a chance for one of you lot to kick Christmas off in style, as part of Christmas at Wollaton Nominate a Shining Star competition – if you know somebody who has shown extraordinary kindness during these past few months, or live with a key worker who you believes deserves to be celebrated, head to the event website and nominate your shining star to be the lucky guest of honour to light up the illumination experience on opening night. 

For adults and kids alike, it’s set to be a wholesome, heart-warming experience. “My family come to lots of my shows and we’ll definitely be attending Christmas at Wollaton. Although I often find it hard to enjoy things without spotting elements that could be different or improved!” says Stephen. “Our aim is for people to enjoy a little festive spirit in these difficult times, to see and react to Wollaton Hall in a different light, and to come together to experience the beauty of grounds in an amazing, magical way that will lift their spirits.”

Tickets are available now on the Christmas at Wollaton website, adults from £19.25 and children from £13.75. Christmas at Wollaton runs from Friday 4 December 2020 to Wednesday 6 January 2021

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