ATTRACTION Enchantment Awaits; There's Been Ice and Fire, a Wish Tree, Talking Hens, a Victorian Parlour, a Cabin of Curiosities. So What's in Store This Year for Enchanted Parks? Barbara Hodgson Reveals Details of the Seventh Chapter in the Fairytale
As an air of mystery lingers like mist over this year's plans to cloak Saltwell Park in its annual coat of many colours, lovers of sparkles and surprises will be wondering just what Enchanted Parks can pull out of the goodie bag this time around.
Over past years visitors to the Victorian park in Gateshead have become rather spoiled by the light-and-sound spectacular, with ghostlike figures emerging from evening shadows to act out little vignettes in a fantasy world where voices whisper confidences in their e ar, illuminations dazzle amongst the trees and weirdly wonderful sights grab the attention.
This December we'll be welcoming Enchanted Parks number seven and such is the popularity of an event which started its life in Newcastle's Leazes Park before crossing the Tyne and has grown year on year, attracting crowds of up to 15,000, that tickets are going on sale on Thursday, November 1 and are expected to sell out fast.
No one wants to spoil any surprises - and they tend to lurk around nearly every corner of the path through the park - but we'd like a tantalising hint of what there is to tempt us out of doors on a cold winter's night.
Well, the Enchanted Parks theme comes from the park's Victorian history, with the artists involved taking inspiration from, and using imagery of, its gothic splendour.
"We're putting forward a fresh and alternative festive message this year - we're almost stepping back in time to remember Christmases of the past," explains Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative.
"The Victoriana theme for this year's Enchanted Parks evolved as we looked at the proposals submitted by artists.
"It became a recurring theme and one which fitted perfectly with the location for the event."
Ideas have taken shape, developing into installations ranging from visual arts through performance and sculpture to interactive works.
And those who were at the 2010 event will be delighted to hear that Ross Ashton and Karen Monid, who created the memorable Pavilion of Dreams - a moving picture and sound show which transformed the park's pavilion - are back, this time turning their attention to Saltwell Towers. This year's collaboration is entitled Glass House and celebrates the stained glass wonders of William Wailes, promising to be a stand-out piece from Ashton (who was also responsible for the Crown of Light projection centrepiece of Durham's Lumiere festival) and Monid who has come up with its atmospheric soundscape. …