Festival of Light, Longleat
This year our family gathering and Christmas get together was at the Festival of Light at Longleat. Grab a coffee as this could be a long post as we had a packed day at Longleat. Morgan had been ill the day before and we all had a bit of lurgy so Friday evening was spent snuggled up at my parents house.
Fortunately we were all feeling fine come Saturday morning. It’s a shame the same couldn’t be said of the weather. It was cold, wet and windy and there were extreme weather warnings in force all over the country. Freezing rain and gales were the order of the day!
We arrived at the Longleat Estate nice and early so that we could get into the Safari Park before it got too busy and also pick up a voucher booklet.
The weather wasn’t really an issue whilst in the Safari Park as we were safely inside the van with the heater on.
It did mean that many of the animals looked a little bedraggled but we could at least see them all. Zebra, Wildebeest, Ostrich, Kudu, Bongo, various deer and camels.
We didn’t see the elephant as she was sensible and hiding away inside. We did see flamingo’s and pelicans though and the monkeys took quite an interest in the flap-up v-bars of our roofrack!
The camels were out, as were the impressive Ankole Cattle with their massive horns. Talking of horns, we saw the endangered White Rhino too.
Unfortunately I had failed to bring my proper camera with me so we had to make do with the cameras on our phones. Not ideal but it’s all we had. It wasn’t ideal for later in the day when the lanterns were on either, but we managed.
We then entered the realm of tigers, lions and cheetahs. Again we were able to see all of them. It was interesting to see how the keepers in their jeeps were keeping a close eye on them at all times too. There was no hurry and we were able to pull up and watch the animals for as long as we wanted to. Considering the weather it was the perfect way to see the animals.
We had a CD to listen to as we toured around the park with Kate Humble telling us about the various animals and some of the history of the safari park. This worked well too.
With the Safari done it was time to drive back towards the main estate, don waterproofs, gloves, hats and boots and take a look around. It was cold, wet and miserable so we soon found ourselves inside the house, wandering through it’s huge rooms and corridors. You can’t look around much of the house as it’s still used as the personal residence of the Marquesses of Bath. At least it was warm and dry in here. We then tried our best to hop from dry area to dry area as we tried to visit other attractions such as the Mirror Maze, various shops, the Bat Cave and a scale model of the house. We then headed to the large café where we met up with the others.
Mazes, Marmosets and Mansions
After lunch we headed off with some of the others to explore the maze. The rain had eased off and within the confines of the tall hedges it was nice and sheltered. We soon split up and were lost wandering around the maze. Finally we all re-grouped atop the bridge where we could look down on the extensive maze. As mazes go it’s a pretty good one!
We then wandered around various other parts of the attractions all of which are in the shadow of the mansion house. Unfortunately the boats were unable to run due to the wind so we couldn’t see the hippos or seals. We did see the penguins, marmosets, red pandas and got to feed the lorikeets as well.
There were plenty of other things to look at too but as the day drew on and it got colder and wetter the next stop was the Orangery for a hot chocolate. It was a bit too busy in here for our liking but I guess that’s to be expected.
The Festival of Lights
The lights were now on so although it wasn’t quite dark we started to wander around them in the pouring rain.
It was a shame about the weather as it was a really impressive display. It would have been nice to sit down here and there and take them in, get some good photos and enjoy the sights. We however were all soaking wet, cold and therefore didn’t really feel like hanging about in any one place for too long. We did get to see them all though and as darkness fell they become even more impressive.
We also timed the end of the tour of lights well as we arrived in the square just in time for a light display on the huge conical tree. This display was to music and was also really good despite the weather.
By now the weather had beaten most of us and we were soaked through so it was back to the cars where we striped off and then headed back through dark, wet roads to my parents house for dinner together. Once again a lovely day out for our family Christmas gathering with plenty to do and a Christmassy feel thanks to the Festival of Light.