As dusk falls on a chilly November evening, a little corner of West London is a-glow with twinkling lights and winking glitter balls. The atmosphere is giddy with beaming little faces, chilled out families, friends and loved up couples. Where are we? A gorgeous little pop-up event that runs for just 3 weekends every year in November. It’s the Syon Park Enchanted Woodland.
For the last 4 years my mum has wanted to take Little Button to the Syon Park Enchanted Woodland event. Something has always come up in the past, but this year, with bells and whistles on we decided to book tickets for the family to go. It was a good job we booked in advance, as the event tickets go like hot cakes. We picked a Saturday (the second weekend of opening) for 6.30pm, the later viewing time. Tickets were £10 for the grown ups and £5 for Little Button. Which we would say was pretty reasonable for an event like this.
On the website it says parking is very limited, but knowing the area, we took a chance and drove. I sneakily got everyone in the car with a full hour and a half spare, just in case we did run into parking issues. There weren’t any. Syon Park had opened up a few fields for parking to ensure everyone got a space. Which we think was super nice of them. Commuting on public transport to Syon Park (in the evening) isn’t particularly great, so double thumbs up to Syon Park for this initiative.
Little Button was thrilled to go squelching through the car park fields when we got there. Good job everyone was in boots!
The entrance to the Enchanted Woodland is just a little bit of a walk from the fields, past the garden centre and walking away from Syon House. An unassuming ticketed entrance lets you through to a little courtyard where you can buy drinks, burgers and hot dogs and some glow stick type merchandise. There are also toilets at this point (none during the walk so make sure the little ones have been). We decided to head straight into the Enchanted Woodland after buying a glow necklace for Little Button which she used as a torch for the walk (not that one was needed, but it was fun).
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I have to say it was stunning. The grounds were lit up tastefully, and along the route magical installations took over pockets of space. It was beautiful and very whimsical. Almost like ‘fairies meet Alice in Wonderland meet Wind in the Willows’.
Little Button keenly took in the sights and sounds, yes there was even music, and it was so lovely to see how excited she was.
Her face lit up when she spotted a fairy tree house, and she spent ages trying to peer inside the little windows.
We were all taken by the glitter balls that cast winks of dancing light around the woodland and Little Button was sure she might have caught a glimpse of the fairies.
Overall, we loved how you could take everything in at your own pace, and it only felt a touch busy towards the end section of the mile long walk.
There were a couple of really interesting, submersive style installations towards the end of the walk and of course the finale in the Great Conservatory. But by then Little Button, Nanny and Grandad Button were ready for a pit stop and somewhere to put their feet up so we whizzed through those bits and ended up back where we started. The walk (with stops) took us about 45 mins.
Once you come out of the Enchanted Woodland, you’ll find yourself by the garden centre cafe (seating is very limited) and the outdoor pit stop for burgers, hotdogs and hot drinks (expect London prices). Unfortunately it had been raining, so there was nowhere dry and warm for us to sit at the time. It was a shame that the large outdoor seating area hadn’t been covered with a gazebo of some kind. But we hadn’t come for the food particularly, so this didn’t put us off the event.
A Few Tips
1. If you’re planning to go, don’t wait to book. The event is very popular so bookmark it for next year and as soon as tickets are available, go for it! In the past I have seen some ticket deals through Little Bird (none this year though). It’s still worth keeping an eye out for these, but there’s no guarantee any will come up.
2. On a practical note, part of the walk was pretty soggy and mucky during our visit. The ground is typically quite soft in November so I would definitely recommend welly’s and warm layers with a waterproof and umbrella tucked in your bag, just in case.
3. Bring wipes and antibacterial gel to clean up mucky pups hands after the walk. There are toilets at the end of the trail where hands can be washed, but the ques tend to be pretty long!
4. Once booked, you can’t move your tickets to another date even if it’s pouring with rain. But don’t let that put you off! Just make sure your suitably dressed for the weather.
5. Buggy’s will bump along quite nicely through the trail, so don’t be afraid to bring one for younger viewers if needed. Just be prepared for operation mud clean afterwards. Oh… and please be kind to non-bugging walkers! No one likes a leg full of muddy buggy wheel or a squashed toe (she says grimly).
6. But above all, just relax and enjoy the experience. It’s pretty amazing.