Enchanting spirit of Christmas
For those looking to find some festive magic this December, the Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light is an absolutely unmissable experience that will delight adults and children alike
It is quite literally as described in the name; an immersive journey through a fantasyland trail and out into a lantern lit extravaganza. The fantasyland features over 600 animatronic animals busy within a snowy world of cosy cottages, steam engines, ice structures and a toy factory. Stars of the show include friendly polar bears, traditional elves and the dancing penguins who are a highlight for many visitors.
For customers who book Santa’s Magical Journey, an additional trip to visit Father Christmas in his grotto is included in the fantasyland experience, where the elves will welcome children to see the big man himself and good little boys and girls will leave with a delightful gift.
Outside is a four-acre field filled with light sculptures set within a variety of themed areas. Visitors wind their way between the giant lanterns which are impressive in the daylight and completely magical at night.
There is an underwater world with a giant ghostly jellyfish and a jungle area featuring a majestic elephant family and grandly decorated giraffe. Other themes are more weird and wonderful, as if they have escaped from a child’s imagination. “This year we will be adding a towering mystical moving tree, covered in creatures,” describes George Cushing, Marketing and Media Manager. “We commissioned it ourselves from the artists and it really will be quite a marvel to look at.”
The journey can also be combined with Thursford’s famed Christmas Spectacular show, an extravaganza of non-stop singing, dancing, music, humour and variety that is now in its 45th year.
“Every lantern is designed and made bespoke for Thursford...”
The Thursford Enchanted Journey of Light is a wonderful trip out for families, with lots to charm and amaze all generations, but perhaps more surprisingly it is also proving popular with couples and groups of friends too. “It is an enjoyable night out with a difference with a fun and festive vibe,” says George. “You can get a mulled wine from the bar and enjoy classic rides like the dodgems and Ferris wheel at the onsite funfair.”
A good selection of simple, warming refreshments are available throughout the Thursford event. The Garden Pavilion serves hearty, wholesome meals to sustain you for the evening, while the Santa’s Magical Journey Café offers family pleasers like pizzas, pastries and bratwurst sausages to eat on the go. Outside are various food stalls, including the ever-popular churros van as well as mince pies galore.
The displays at Thursford are really exceptional quality and are updated every year to keep the journey fresh with new surprises to excite returning visitors. “The fantasyland remains permanently in place,” George explains, “which allows us the time and resources to make it so detailed. In 2022 you must look out for a new wolf pack and some naughty polar bears who have got into the wrapped presents early.”
The lantern display is more transient, in part because of the delicate nature of the sculptures. “They are made of steel wire that is moulded into shape, covered with silk and then lights are inserted into the centre,” says George. “It takes around six weeks to get everything outside constructed, staked and lit.
“We had three containers full of new features transported from China, including a new ice world. They will add a huge amount to the display,” George continues. “This year has seen the biggest capital investment we have ever made. We want to keep people coming back and we want to invest in the place. It’s exciting!”
The stunning lanterns within Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light are completely unique in East Anglia. “If you want to see lantern sculptures like these, we are unmatched,” says George. “Every lantern is designed and made bespoke for Thursford. They are sourced from China where the artistry in this form is incredible.”
It is this innovative approach that sets Thursford apart for those seeking the ultimate Christmas experience. “There is a good variety of attractions doing Christmas events across Norfolk now and everyone has something special and different to offer,” George says. “But here at Thursford we really specialise in Christmas. You can expect the highest quality in everything that we do. The permanence of our fantasyland display allows us to create a richness and amazing level of detail. There will not be a single dark corner found that isn’t a treat for the eyes. We invest in the creativity and the result is truly immersive.”
For those that are keen to visit Thursford’s enchanting Christmas experience, tickets are still available and more details can be found on the website, www.thursford.com.
And what advice does George have for visitors? “Just be embraced by the spirit of Christmas. Forget about the real world for a few hours of escapism that will take you back to the excitement of your childhood. Bring your festive cheer… and if it’s raining maybe a coat too.”