Margam Park is lovely at any time of year, but for Luminate Wales to have it transformed into a luscious, luminous landscape during the dark of winter is particularly alluring. There’s something about winter, and light at this time, that is festive and magical; it sings of hope, perhaps, or plays upon our nostalgia for the Christmas trees of childhood; or maybe we’re easily dazzled by anything that glitters, who knows.
Luminate promised a show-stopping extravaganza – a spectacle, and then some – of dizzyingly brilliant illuminations, and in this it delivered. Walking the pre-laid, thoughtfully designed circuit around the park, there were many marvels and myriad unexpected elements. We began our visit by stepping through a tunnel made entirely of fairy lights, and although this was instantly impressive, it was nothing like as sophisticated or sensational as some of the later installations.
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but lights of every variety were here, from fairy to halogen, projected light to refracted. My particular favourites were fields and trees full of glitter balls, which sent out long spokes of white light in every direction, and the ‘fairies’ dancing in cages towards the end of the route which, as a child, would have enthralled me, but brought as much delight, still, as an adult.
See The Troll Who Stole Christmas at Theatr Clwyd
One of three kids’ shows being performed in both Welsh and English here during the Christmas period.
10.15am on Fri 24 Dec and 10.30am on Tue 28 Dec.
For our two children, there was plenty of razzle-dazzle but also engaging elements, such as lights and music created by handbells, and also the ability, at one point, to change the colour of a huge, wholly lit citrus house, which was impressive. Music at various intervals added to the seasonal spirit, although one of our tribe (age 14) said it reminded them of “generic happy Christmas music”. For myself, this isn’t an insult, but something to be relished – and this child, along with his sibling, proclaimed the event as “good” both beforehand, during, and after the visit.
We toasted marshmallows over open fire pits; were tempted by food and mulled wine at the halfway point of our walk; and were amazed and entranced by the various sorts of illumination, light show, and projection that we saw. Overall, we enjoyed a wonderful evening, and for families, individuals, and just anyone who loves light, spectacle, and entertainment, it makes for a brilliant hour or two.
Margam Park, Port Talbot, Tue 23 Nov. Luminate Wales runs until Sun 2 Jan. Tickets and info: here
words and photos MAB JONES
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