I was very lucky to have been invited to Lightopia, Manchester but as I’ve moved to France, I asked Raimy if she would like to go on my behalf. Raimy writes over at Readaraptor Hatchling and has reviewed Christmas at Tatton Park for us in the past. She has a 4 year old daughter, Spike and I thought Lightopia would be something that she would find fascinating. I know Lucas would absolutely love it!
On Saturday night we were lucky enough to head to Heaton Park in Manchester for a Festival of Lights at Lightopia.
Lightopia festival is one of the only of its kind. A full immersive experience that takes you on a journey of art installations through Manchester Heaton Park.
At the park until the end of December, its the ideal way to to enjoy some festive spirit with parks of the festival focusing on Christmas.
We entered Heaton Park opposite the Metrolink station, which was our preferred method of travel. We parked in Whitefield and got the tram into the Park as we knew the car park there is a little on the smaller side and didn’t want to worry about finding a space.
The entrance opposite the metrolink hadsome stunning lanterns announcing the arrival of Lightopia, featuring flowers and the image of a lady’s face. We then followed numbers down the hill, into Lightopia Village.
Lightopia Village had stalls reminiscent of the Christmas markets, including German sausages and hot chocolate with liquors. There were also some fair rides which did require ‘tokens’ which were priced at £1 each. There was also an interactive light and music display that Spike really enjoyed playing on, as did many other children. We headed into a tent here too, where there were a few smaller installations and a stage was set up to welcome musicians.
Heading out of the Village we joined the Lightopia Festival walk at the flower installations next to the lake. I loved walking through this as it felt so magical. Plus, there was a giant Tinkerbell lantern, complete with moving lantern flowers which Spike loved!
There was a really cool light display on the monument by the lakeside which has been restored since we were last in the park and is looking lovely! There was a lot of nods to Chinese culture throughout the festival too and I loved the Year of The Rat installation just next to the moment.
My favourite bit had to be what we came across next. As we walked to the side of the car park, we saw a gorgeous display of a crescent moon and stars. Spike is obsessed with space so she loved that one, and next to it was a dinosaur installation! This was facing out to the car park, but thankfully we were able to nip out and see it in all its glory and then get back in with our ticket stubs.
The whole walk around the lake was magical, with funky light shows lighting up the trees where there were no lanterns, and a whole safari of animals to walk through. Spike loved meeting each one and even named them as we walked round.
Coming out of the lakeside walk we had to stop for the tram to go past. I love that there are old style trams in operation through Heaton Park and I think a lot of people were taking advantage of the tram to keep out of the drizzle that we had just got caught in! From the tram you could see a tunnel of light and all the lanterns set up across the park too, which made a great sight.
We continued on the route and after some amazing, and huge displays, came across a little village of food stalls selling Churros, toasted marshmallows and more. Plus swinging lights which Spike loved to play on.
A walk through the woods got us to a light tunnel which Spike was a little dubious of at first but once we were inside she loved it! Steams of light showed you the way and made cool patterns. It felt a bit like a vortex but a safe one leading to the lake.
Here’s where Lightopia’s show really stepped up. There are no words to describe the incredible show that is displayed above the lake. It was amazing to see and magical to think about how it was done. It featured everything from nutcrackers and reindeer to Santa Claus himself. We caught the end of it as we came out of the light tunnel and by the time we got to the cafe next to the lake we had to wait a few minutes for a new show to begin, so I would say that they are spread around 5 minutes apart at the most. It’s definitely worth sticking around to see in full!
After that it was back into the Village to treat ourselves to a hot chocolate, German sausage and ride for Spike. The whole night was a fantastic success, and Spike, who usually complains about walking after about half an hour, had walked for about 2 hours before saying she was tired!
My top tip for Lightopia Festival would be to take wellies, as our shoes are looking a bit worse for wear the day after! And to wrap up warm. It’s beautiful and there’s lots of shade from the trees, but the cold winter nights in Manchester are a bit bitter