Enchanted Woodland – Syon Park

December 5, 2010

Tonight I headed out to Syon Park which, according to the website, is the ‘London home of the Duke of Northumberland’. Or at least Syon House is, rather than the park itself.

Unless of course the Duchess and Duke decide to pitch a tent in the park when they are here to stay, I’m unsure. Though I don’t think they would have done so today because it was pretty darn cold out there tonight – it’s about time I used gloves that weren’t fingerless when out taking photos, or at least purchase a shutter release cable so I can keep my hands in my pockets for the duration of a long exposure instead of having to hold the button still without shivering for a minute or two – if there had been more light I’m sure I would have seen my fingers turn blue.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, tonight I headed out to Syon Park for a light display they called ‘Enchanted Woodland‘. Unfortunately by ‘display’ I don’t mean that it was fireworks. This was simply a few different coloured lights pointed at trees really. It cost £5 to get in, and I hope this blog post doesn’t inspire you to go to it because in my usual fashion I left it until the last day it was on before I went and visited it. Besides, it was a bit rubbish to be honest.

I arrived around 5:45 – it was advertised as being open from 5pm to 8pm; gates closing at 9 which gives you an hour to walk around – this is plenty of time as I guess it takes around 30 minutes at a leisurely pace. Or in my case 2 and a half hours due to the fact I had my camera with me.

The largest disappointment was that it really was just a few lights (okay, they say over 1000) put up and pointing at trees. It didn’t seem to do anything much other than that. At one point there was a smoke machine, a rumbling noise and a ‘beware the dragon’ sign, closely followed by an abandoned table and a few toy fairies hung up as a ‘Fairy tea party’ kind of thing – both a bit odd and the only thing aimed towards ‘enchanted’ in the display. Perhaps I was just too cold to enjoy it fully.

The first half was quite busy with other people and children going past me. Annoying mostly due to the fact everyone was snapping away using inbuilt flashes on their cameras. I don’t know why people buy expensive digital cameras and don’t bother either learning how to use them or don’t bother buying an external flash. One woman tutted away as she tried to take image after image with her flash only to find the results pretty flat. I gave her a quick lesson in raising the ISO and reducing the Shutter speed and encouraged her to make full use of fence posts and what not (with a hint she could buy a tripod) so she could get a few results from taking the night time shots – she seemed happy enough with the results.

The second half was pretty much empty; I guess with most people hitting the place early rather than late so there were less interruption of people walking past. It was getting pretty cold though and my camera was fogging up towards the end.

Syon Park - Enchanted Woodland

Syon Park - Enchanted Woodland

The problem which was consistent throughout was that there is so much ambient light coming from the city that the sky was never fully dark; plus the park is in the direct flight path of planes heading into Heathrow so every minute there is a passing plane ruining a shot and the noise of it killing any atmosphere that was in place.

This is an annual display but I can honestly say that I’m glad I’ve been once, but won’t be returning in the near future.

If you ever get the chance, visit Enchanted Forest in Scotland instead – this is a much, much better experience.

More images are available in my Enchanted Woodland flickr set

Syon Park - Enchanted Woodland


5 Responses to “Enchanted Woodland – Syon Park”

  1. Wavatar tenderhooligan on December 6th, 2010 8:03 am

    These pictures are great. YES, get a pair of gloves!

  2. Wavatar michele wheeler on December 30th, 2010 3:34 am

    What a miserable person you must be!
    Simply not in the mood to enjoy a pleasant walk designed purely to bring the gardens to life at night and a little extra by way of the dragons den and fairies tea party for children.

    May I also add that the team who put this event together should be congratulated for their effort and hardwork.

    I know that it takes months of planning and a large team many days to install. Considering that this was the 5th year of the enchanted woodland which becomes more successful each year it is of great relief that the majority of visitors are a little more upbeat than yourself.

  3. Wavatar murphyz on December 30th, 2010 11:35 am

    @tenderhooligan; thank you – I have now purchased gloves :o)

    @ Michele
    I’m actually a relatively cheery person, on the inside at least. I’m also one that is fairly optimistic about these type of events, and having had experience with other displays such as these my expectations were quite high. Honestly, in hindsight, I can see why the website shows very little about the display itself, because it doesn’t want to highlight how poor a display it is – I see that as false advertising.

    At the end of the day, people will get different things out of it. Some people were there with their children and were happy to spend half an hour walking around it. Good for them. They may think it very much worth it and would be happy to return next year. Personally I was there for the photo opportunities, and perhaps this is one of the reasons I found it so disappointing. The fact I had been to a similar event elsewhere meant that I, of course, went into this with the previous experiences in my mind and this was a big let down by comparison. I’m surprised this is the 5th year though, and imagine the first year was quite laughable.

    I do applaud anyone who puts on these kind of events though, if I didn’t appreciate the effort that people go to I wouldn’t bother leaving my flat to check them out. I am, however, allowed to have my own views on whether I enjoyed it or not and find it a bit odd that you would judge my character based on one event – perhaps you should disclaim who you are and how you are associated with the event also as it seems you know a lot about it – are you part of the Yes Events team per chance?

    I am a huge fan of London, and enjoy checking out a variety of different things that this wonderful city has to offer. Let’s take the recent Elephant Parade as an example. This was well planned and well put together and something I really did enjoy; so much so that I spent many hours compiling information for others to use, a lot of time promoting it to others and I thought it was so well done that I took time off work to volunteer as a steward at one of their events (though being such a miserable person I obviously must have done this to stop kids enjoying themselves at the event or something).

    I think your comment would be a little more constructive if you had simply stated why it is that you so obviously enjoy the Enchanted Woodland and perhaps giving reasons why people should still go. I’ve had plenty of hits to this site on the subject, and I’m sure these will increase next year when the event is held again because I know people will want other opinions on whether or not to go. My opinion still stands – don’t bother. You could sway their minds by stating exactly why they shouldn’t listen to me and should make the effort to go, perhaps come at this from a parent’s view (if you are a parent, I don’t know). Again, though, I would like a little disclosure as to how closely you are related to the event and the company behind it just so my readers know whether or not it’s an advertising ploy or a real personal review.


  4. Wavatar MB on December 3rd, 2011 10:21 pm

    Bloody hell, I wish I’d read this before I dragged my family all the way to Syon Park for this frankly underwhelming experience. By the way, it’s now £7 for an adult, and £3 for kids, so I spent £20 plus the cost of trains, tubes and food.

    Funnily enough, the kids were at first delighted by the low-flying planes but, as you say, after having them roar past, one a minute, you really start to become a bit psychotic.

    Look, I don’t want to be a misery guts. It was sweet and it was nice to be outdoors with the kids on a crisp winter evening, and of course the flight path is not their fault! If it had been in my local park, I would honestly have thought it was fine. But this was sold to me as a fantastic London experience and I was made to feel it was going to be worth the journey.

    But it really wasn’t, and it was a lot of money for what it offered.

  5. Wavatar murphyz on February 22nd, 2012 9:56 am

    Thanks for your thoughts on this MB, sorry that you didn’t enjoy it as much as you had expected. I have hopes that it does improve over time. Don’t let this one experience put you off though, I’ve been to others and they have been pretty cool.:)

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