Review – Wonderlights

Wonderlights is a very impressive light trail through the grounds of Palmerstown House Estate in Co Kildare.

I had booked it weeks before knowing the Irish weather can be temperamental, but as we were driving down in heavy rain we did wonder if we were a bit mad, but in the end it didn’t dampen our spirits too much.

The walking trail starts on the golf course where the lights and holograms beam across the lake. Then it trails through the forest where round every corner there are impressive light sculptures of native woodland animals. Finally it winds back round through the hotel gardens and avenues with colourful light displays, to finish at a funfair.

All along tradional celtic music emanates from the bushes adding to the atmosphere.

In total it is a couple of kilometres of walking and a great activity for families.

My highlight was the holographic deer in the woods that could be glimpsed moving through the trees, just like a real herd of deer.

All along the stewards were nice and friendly despite being stuck in the rain.

It was a real shame about the weather. On a clear night we could have taken our toddler out the buggy to walk and be carried along. As it was the rain let up a bit, but she was under the buggy hood the whole time, so we missed out on seeing the extent of her wonder.

The other downside for me was the amount of people. We had to queue in the car to get in, queue at the gates to start the trail and the sheer volume of people meant we were always walking round in what felt like one giant queue. The paths are quite narrow so naturally people stop to take photos but that means a lot of bottlenecks and the loudmouth behind me loudly exclaiming “what’s the bleedin hold up” didn’t exactly enhance the magical atmosphere.

There were some information signs about the Irish myths and animals, but if you stopped to read one a wave of people shoved you out the way to get past. I saw a few families that had got separated like this and it felt like a conveyor belt sweeping you along.

At the end there were more chaotic queues for food, and that combined with the rain meant we didn’t linger – but still we were there 2 hours so it wasn’t bad value.

So would I recommend it, or go again next year? I would like to experience it on a dry night when my toddler can properly enjoy it, and hopefully the crowds aren’t in such a relentless rush to get round.

Hopefully the organisers will learn from experience and not sell quite so many tickets to each session next time, but that really would be a wonder.

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