Why the light show scene in Scotland is booming
- David Pollock
- 26 February 2019
We take a look at Scotland's festivals of light with Enchanted Forest producer Zoe Squair
In the last four or five years, we've noticed a lot of organisations replicating what we do,' says Zoe Squair, producer of the Enchanted Forest sound and light festival. Founded in 2001 and set in Faskally Wood near Pitlochry, The Enchanted Forest (3 Oct–3 Nov) might not have been the first ever such festival, but it was the only show in town until the recent explosion of similar events.
The proof of Enchanted Forest's success is in comparing the numbers over the years: in 2001 it was a three-day weekend event attended by a couple of thousand people, while in 2018 it went on for five weeks and welcomed 80,000 folk. 'We're a charitable organisation, so we aim to give families the best experience,' adds Squair. Enchanted Forest has pitched itself perfectly over the years, and after gaining a national reputation – as well as a number of tourism awards to back it up – an ever- increasing amount of son et lumière festivals have now popped up over Scotland.
Among them are Illuminight with Lidl (23 Oct–17 Nov) with its walking trail around Dean Castle Country Park near Kilmarnock, and Vogrie Fire & Light Adventure (Sep), just south of Edinburgh. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh also hosts a sparkling trail with Christmas at the Botanics (Nov & Dec), while there are further events such as Fire & Light (1 & 2 Jan) at Helix Park near Falkirk, and the Kirkcudbright Festival of Light (10–13 Oct) which makes a feature of the town itself.
'Our audiences are all quite experienced with these types of event now, and they're the ones who keep us on our toes,' says Squair. 'We pay attention to all of the other events to see what they're doing and whether we can learn from them, but our audience's expectations are the ones we try and achieve.'
Squair believes that this stiff competition doesn't seem to have impacted negatively on Enchanted Forest, and that there appears to be room for everyone. 'The 2018 event was our busiest yet,' she says. 'We don't find that people want to travel less, but they do want to have a better and more exciting experience. I think our location, in the middle of a beautiful area with a forest that inspires us every year, provides that, and we know that's part of what brings people to us.'