Enchanted Forest 2005
If you go down to the Woods today, you're sure of a big surprise...
Scotland in the Autumn is a glorious and magical time of year. The air is fresh, crisp and cool, while the magnificent trees of the Perthshire forests and woodlands, in particular, are looking their finest, turning a paint palette of shimmering shades of amber, crimson and gold. It's one of the best seasons to visit the Scottish countryside. And in late October 2005 is the time to make your way to Faskally Wood, near Pitlochry and take part in a unique experience deep inside an Enchanted Forest.
How it all began
An amazing Son et Lumière event has taken place at the Hermitage, near Dunkeld in Perthshire for the past three years. It all began during a couple of weeks in late October 2002, when an outdoor promenade show, The Enchanted Forest, hosted by the National Trust for Scotland, attracted nearly 3,000 people. Demand was so great that a further six nights were added to the 2003 programme in order to accommodate many more visitors, around 4,000 in fact. By 2004, it sold out in advance of the first performance. Word had spread far and wide and the audience more than doubled when over 10,000 people, of all ages, made their way to the Hermitage to witness this spectacular show.
So what is it all about?
James McDougall of The Forestry Commission takes up the story:"The event was pioneered in response to TreeFest Scotland 2002 where the aim was to encourage people back into the countryside and forests in particular. The experience aims to showcase the forest and its history in a style which has never been seen before."
The night-time journey through the Hermitage has been described as utterly magical. The entire woodland was transformed into an Enchanted Forest with state-of-the-art light and sound installations using different colours and tones inspired by the natural world.
Forest Rangers would lead groups of visitors on guided tours through the forest after dark and take them on an hour long journey through the trees to see the woodland as it has never been experienced before. As the people made their way into the forest, sensors hidden among the trees switched on lights, sounds and music as they passed. The folly, Ossian's Hall, perched high on the bank above the River Braan, was beautifully illuminated. The exceptionally tall trees at The Hermitage, which are among the tallest in the country, were also lit by beams of light to create a cathedral- like atmosphere. Talking trees, floating balls of light, a wild witch and a cave full of fire and water were just some of the special effects before the audience entered Ossian's world of nymphs, witches and kelpies of the forest. Adults and children alike have loved the journey through this fantastical fairytale world of giant trees, along a fast flowing river to the colourfully lit waterfall. As a dramatic and visual entertainment, The Enchanted Forest celebrates the landscape, legends and heritage at the heart of Perthshire's Big Tree County.
If you go down to the woods today...
Roseanna Cunningham, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Perth, has long been a strong advocate for the National Theatre of Scotland. In September 2003, she spoke at the Scottish Parliament about the importance of getting people involved in the theatre and the arts."The National Theatre project has the potential to be of great benefit to Scotland and I hope that it will acknowledge the importance of encouraging young people in the arts. It is also extremely important that the national theatre encourage interface with the traditional arts and all the languages of Scotland. I am encouraged that the National Theatre will tour the country. That it is a commissioning theatre rather than one that is rooted in bricks and mortar should be a constant reminder that theatre can be staged anywhere. I will soon attend an open-air event at the Hermitage in Dunkeld called "The Enchanted Forest", which I believe may already be sold out. The success of the piece, which has been staged before, is absolute proof, if any were needed, that there is an audience for innovation in Scotland if we take it to them."
2005 : New Show - New Forest
Like Birnam Wood to Dunsinane in Macbeth, the Son et Lumière show is on the move this year from the Hermitage to Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. This major production is a collaboration between the National Trust of Scotland, Perthshire Big Tree Country, the Forestry Commission, Black Light, Visit Scotland Perth and Event Scotland.
Performances will run nightly from October 21 to November 2005. Located around Loch Faskally and Loch Dunmore, this brand new show will have a theme, the Water of Life.
Faskally is something of a model forest with a wide mix of deciduous tree species, some over 200 years old, surrounding the tranquil Loch Dunmore. The secluded shores make a wonderful spot for a leisurely picnic. Herons can often be found fishing in the reeds around the edge of the loch. The best time to see the forest is in spring when the trees are in bud, or in autumn when reflections fill the loch with shimmering colour.
Production plans for the new Enchanted Forest show are still in development but this will give some idea of what to expect. It all starts at the entrance to Faskally Wood where spectators will follow an illuminated pathway down to a loch side viewpoint in a natural amphitheatre. From here, the audience will be treated to a spectacular sound and light show designed and created by Scotland's leading theatrical lighting company, Black Light. You may experience a series of plasma screens floating on the loch with jets of coloured water and illuminated burning cans creating an exciting visual display to illustrate the elements - fire, earth, water and air. This will be complemented by storytelling and historic narratives about Faskally with specially commissioned music to dramatise the natural water cycle from cloud formation, rain, streams, rivers, lochs, sea to clouds. A host of other light and sound vignettes will also entertain the crowd along the lochside path with brightly illuminated boats bobbing on the water to illustrate a different story about the Water of Life.
The whole experience will take about 60 - 75 minutes in total but visitors are free to wander at leisure, and repeat the tour during this promenade theatre production.
Hamish Murray is Forestry Commission Manager for Faskally and delighted to host The Enchanted Forest for the first time. "I hope visitors will not only enjoy the forest during the performance nights but will return to experience the natural wonders in daylight."
The Enchanted Forest is a highlight of the Perthshire events calendar and an ideal time to plan a visit to Pitlochry - with its famous theatre on the River Tummel. Explore further afield, north to Killiecrankie, local visitor attractions and experience all the colours and moods of autumn. Some of the most impressive scenes are around the shores of Loch Tummel where the birch trees have golden-yellow leaves at that time of year. The Queen's View is one of Scotland's most photographed scenes - a viewpoint that looks westwards along Loch Tummel, with the near perfect conical peak of Schiehallion as a focal point. Roads on the loch's north and south shores provide a good circular tour.
Performance and Booking Information
The performance times will run approximately between 6.30pm and 9pm. Due to the great demand and sell out shows in previous years, tickets for The Enchanted Forest should be pre-booked. For bookings and information call Pitlochry Festival Theatre Box Office 01796 484626 or Perthshire Box Office, 01738 621031
Visitors will be transported by bus on a shuttle service from the Pitlochry Festival Car Park and Pitlochry's Main car park (Fishers Hotel) from 1815 to 2045 at 15-minute intervals, returning up until 2200.
Further information about The Enchanted Forest, Accommodation and touring Perthshire is available at VisitScotland - Perthshire. Prices: Family Pass (2 Adults and 2 Children) £25; Adult £8.50; Concession £6.50; Child (under 15) £4.50; Child (under 5) FREE
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar>
Places to Visit>