Attractions

Lightopia Heaton Park (Manchester) Review

THE REVIEWER AND GUESTS WERE GIFTED ENTRY TICKETS FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW.

Reviewed by Rebecca Boden

I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to review Lightopia at Heaton Park in Manchester. I love the build up to Christmas and am always on the lookout for family activities but finding new things that fit the bill can be challenging, especially with a teenager in tow. The only downside to our visit was that our chosen date was in the middle of Storm Arwen, and I was a little unsure if this would affect our plans, but I am pleased to say that it didn’t.

Booking the tickets via the Lightopia website was really quick and easy and I booked a family ticket priced at £62 (editor’s note – the reviewer and guests received the tickets on a complimentary basis for the purposes of writing the review), plus an additional £5 for parking. The tickets were emailed to my chosen email address shortly afterwards and in the run up to attending the event, I was also sent some information which ensured we knew when to arrive and what to do along with a map of the location, this was really helpful in helping us plan.

We decided to eat before we arrived at Lightopia and pulled onto the car park at our designated time. Although you are given a time for arrival, it is reassuring that if you arrive late you will still be allowed in as long as it is before the last admission time (this information can be found on the information that accompanies your tickets) – this was particularly reassuring as we had over an hours drive to get there and we were at the mercy of the M6. As we had paid for parking with our tickets, we were provided with an additional QR code for the parking (from taking a look at the website, you are able to pay for parking on arrival, however it is slightly more expensive at £7). Our QR code was scanned and there was ample parking available – we parked at the South car park, the other choice being the North car park. It doesn’t really matter which you choose as the route is an oval circuit, which you join near to your chosen car park, and you complete a whole lap, arriving back at your starting location.

There is a short walk from the car park to the event gates, which is lit with fairy lights, building the anticipation for what was to come. Again, at the gates, our e-tickets were scanned, and we were granted entry, the process was simple and quick, and we did not have to queue. Once through the barrier, we entered right at the heart of the action at the funfair, where there were a number of rides for children of varying ages and adults alike – this is an extra cost but my teenagers eyes lit up and we stopped to go on a couple of the attractions, considering she wanted to go on the ‘big’ rides, the prices were quite reasonable.

As we moved on, there was an array of food stalls, and with hindsight, I wished we had not eaten before we arrived, as there were both sweet and savoury options from carvery baps, wraps, crepes and waffles. We did treat ourselves to desert and had Chocolate Crepes. I did find this a little expensive, but in keeping with the price you would pay at any event and it was delicious. There were also stalls offering sweets and hot drinks.

We noted that throughout our visit, there were plenty of toilet facilities regularly placed throughout the walk – very reassuring if you are planning to visit with young children. Lightopia is an illuminate walk of approximately 1.5 miles through the park lit by the most amazing lanterns. We could not believe the creativity of the lanterns which are simply magical. As you progress on the walk, you pass through different themed areas such as Dragon’s Land, Candy Land, Magic Circus and Earth Flower, which create an enchanted and truly magical experience.

Our favourites were probably the Christmas zone, the lights were especially magical here and there was a vintage Ferris wheel where we stopped to have a go and the Enchanted Forrest, where there were iridescent crystals hanging from the forest ceiling and an array of magical creature hiding amongst the trees!

The young children we saw on the walk were in awe of the amazing character lanterns along the way and there were plenty of opportunities to stop for photos and even engage with interactive elements such as the interactive floor to keep younger visitors entertained. There were also plenty of food stops and hot drink stations along the way, this was a must for our visit as it was a particularly chilly evening due to Storm Arwen and the hot drinks were very welcomed.
There was also a fantastic Christmas themed laser/water show which is set to music over the lake and despite the cold we stopped to watch. There was also the opportunity to take a trip around the park on their heritage Trams, including the Bovril tram. We didn’t do this as by the point where we reached this area it was quite late, but this seemed to be popular.

Despite the cold, we had an amazing evening, we loved getting wrapped up and out in the fresh air and having something to do together as a family. Even our teenager thoroughly enjoyed the visit and there really was something for everyone. For us, the walk took around two hours from start to finish as we did not rush around the route, but you could stay longer too. The route used existing pathways within the park so pushchairs or wheelchair users should find this accessible. All paths are adequately lit, but as you would expect, not too bright due to the need to make the lanterns stand out.

During the visit, we spent a little extra on sweet treats, drinks and rides which if you are there as part of a family group, could add up, however even without splurging on the extra treats, Lightopia would be a wonderful experience and you can spend as much or as little as you like during your visit. We would highly recommend this to all for a fantastic, Christmassy experience.

Rating: We all agreed we would rate this event 5/5 stars

Ticket cost: Family of four £62 alternatively Adults £20 pp, child 3-5years £13 pp, under 2 years free. Parking £5 per car. All tickets are subject to a small booking fee. (£1.20 pp (adult ticket), £0.78 pp (child ticket), £3.72 (family ticket)
Arrival times from 17:00-20:00
Lightopia, Heaton Park, Middleton Road, Manchester, M25 2SW
Lightopia Manchester runs from 25th November to 3rd January.
For more information or to book tickets visit: https://manchester.lightopiafestival.com/explore-trail

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