As The Enchanted Forest (October 4 - November 4) gears up for an astonishing 17th year in Faskally Wood, we chat to the creative team behind Scotland’s multi-award-winning sound and light event.
What makes The Enchanted Forest so unique?
Our location in Faskally Wood makes The Enchanted Forest unlike anything else. This incredible Highland Perthshire woodland comes alive after dark and its unique atmosphere always inspires us to create an event that continues to surprise and delight audiences of all ages.
This year’s show – Of the Wild - highlights the natural wonders surrounding us with mind-blowing light displays, interactive elements all beautifully choreographed with music written and recorded for this year’s event. Running for four weeks and five weekends, you are walking in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, experiencing this wonderland in the woods.
How will this year’s event stand out from the previous years?
The name of this year’s event, Of the Wild, says it all! Last year’s theme ‘Oir an Uisge’ (Edge of the Water) was heavily inspired by the Loch which formed the dramatic centrepiece, while this year is influenced by the hidden beauty of Highland Perthshire’s wild woods. While we don’t want to give too much away in advance, we can promise breathtaking visuals, state-of the-art technologies, interactive special effects and a dazzling music score. We’ve also lined up some surprises, but you’ll have to wait and see what’s in store!
How do you choose a theme and can we have any clues for this year’s show?
The Enchanted Forest really is a collaborative effort and the theme is the result of hours and hours of discussion involving the entire creative team. Light designers Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes then have the intricate job of taking the theme and developing it from the concept stage to a fully imagined show.
The visual design process starts after the theme is decided and that theme will bring the whole show together. The route through the forest is then planned with the audience’s experience in mind all the way through the process. For 2018’s Of the Wild, Kate and Simon are creating moments of calm alongside huge visual spectacles, which are all designed to stimulate the imagination.
What is the process between the exhibition’s imagery and coming up with a perfectly curated score?
At The Enchanted Forest, the lights and the music go hand-in-hand. One doesn’t work without the other, but when they come together it really is like nothing else you’ve seen. Composer and sound designers, RJ McConnell and Jon Beales work closely with the lighting team to share conceptual ideas and describe specific technical effects to each other to see what they can create. Key dramatic moments are identified by Kate and Simon, then RJ and Jon develop and refine the music into distinct works for different locations in the forest.
For first time visitors, what is your must-see recommendation?
Remember to look up, all around … and take your time! Not all the lighting displays and special effects are right in front of you, so keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover some hidden treasures where you least expect them. And we always recommend that visitors swing past our food outlets. The mulled wine and hot chocolate will warm you up on a cold night and it’s always fun to toast your own marshmallows at one of the fire pits.
The Enchanted Forest is an outdoor event, what practical tips can you offer to visitors?
Autumn weather in Scotland is notoriously unpredictable so make sure that you wear warm, waterproof clothing and sturdy walking shoes or boots. It’s always a good idea to dress in plenty of layers which means that you have plenty of options if the conditions are warmer or colder than you expect.
What are your favourite moments from previous Enchanted Forest events?
There have been so many great moments over the last 16 years that it’s impossible to single out any specific ones. However, there’s nothing more magical than listening to fairy tales about woodland creatures, while deep in the heart of The Enchanted Forest. Our Storytelling Yurt, hosted by the wonderfully whimsical storytellers Claire Hewitt and Lindsay Gibb, is back for 2018 after proving to be a massive hit with visitors year after year.
It’s not just the kids who enjoy the stories. Many grown-ups (or big kids) love hearing old fairytales they perhaps haven’t heard since they were small. The Yurt is also a great spot to rest your legs and warm up with a hot chocolate and great company.
Enchanted Forest is run by the The Enchanted Forest© Community Trust charity, what is the aim of this charity and how does it give back to the community?
Since launching, The Enchanted Forest has grown to be one of the largest and most popular outdoor events in Scotland with over 75,000 visitors travelling to Highland Perthshire for our show and even more expected to come to this year’s event: Of the Wild. During this rapid growth, what’s remained a constant is The Enchanted Forest© Community Trust, a group of dedicated locals who run this annual event with support from many businesses in the area.
To give something back to the community, the Trust annually chooses a trio of charities to benefit from the show. 2017’s charities were Tayside Mountain Rescue, Alzheimer Scotland and Giraffe. Each charity received a donation of £2,500 from the Trust. This year, we are delighted to support Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, The Birks Cinema Trust and Blairgowrie Riding for Disabled.
A special Community Fund was established by the Trust in 2013 to offer funding to many local groups and organisations in the area. This year the Community Fund has awarded a record £17,870 to a wide range of worthy projects in Highland Perthshire.
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