7 reasons to visit The Enchanted Forest this Autumn

The Enchanted Forest 2018 got off to a wild and wonderful start earlier this month with the launch of this year’s Of The Wild theme at Faskally Wood near Pitlochry.

Showcasing the autumnal beauty of Highland Perthshire, the sound and light spectacular released a record 80,000 tickets for its extended five-week run (Oct 6 – Nov 4).


Inspired by the hidden beauty of Highland Perthshire’s wild woods, the multi-award-winning creative team has developed a show rooted in nature and full of surprises.

This year’s show combines breath-taking visuals, state-of-the-art technologies and a powerful musical score against a backdrop of one of Scotland’s most breathtaking woodland locations.

Here are 7 good reasons to visit:

  1. Spend time outdoors in nature & boost your wellbeing – The Enchanted Forest works closely with Forestry Commission Scotland to enhance the natural features of the forest and encourage more people to embrace Scotland’s woodlands.


2. Experience the ultimate in forest bathing – The forest contains 25 recorded species of tree, a handful of which are native: Scots Pine, Silver and Downy Birch, Ash, Oak, Rowan, Common Alder, Hazel, and Bird Cherry. The oldest known tree is around 200-225 years old.


3. Help sustain local charitiesOutdoor Access Trust for Scotland, The Birks Cinema Trust and Blairgowrie Riding for Disabled, which has been faced with closure, have been confirmed as the official charity partners for 2018. These organisations will not only benefit financially but will be promoted extensively during the event.

Enchanted Forest 2018

4. Support Scottish tourism – It’s estimated The Enchanted Forest’s impact on the local tourism economy is around £3 million a year.

Toasting marshmallows

5. Support ecology and conservation – In 2017 The Enchanted Forest donated £500 to Tayside Bat Group (TBG) to install around 30 bat boxes in Faskally Wood. The forest already provides suitable habitat for a range of bat species but these boxes increase available roosting sites for them. TBG volunteers placed the new nesting boxes in a strip of trees along the edge of Loch Dunmore.

Fluid – created by Squid Soup of squidsoup.org: Dynamically controlled floating points of light visualise the flow of energy, both real and imagined, as suggested by the water and surrounding landscape. Inspired by the myriad of cultural references to energy and flow patterns, from Aboriginal dreamtime paintings to Japanese wave and ripple designs, this uses light and technology to place a dynamic layer onto physical space that is both an augmentation and reflection of it.

6. Embrace Scottish culture & feel inspired – Now in its 17th year, The Enchanted Forest has won numerous awards, most recently being named finalist for Best Cultural Event at the Scottish Thistle Awards for the fifth year in a row. The event also took the coveted Best Cultural Event at the 2016 UK Events Awards in London last winter.

Illumiphonium – created by Michael Davis of illumiphonium.co.uk: A dynamic and interactive multi-sensory, music-making instrument – the first of its kind. This semi-acoustic, semi-automatic, multi-player musical sculpture comprises more than 100 illuminated chime bars, each of which respond to touch, with ever-changing patterns of light and sound – spreading out like waves over the giant instrument’s surface, bringing people together into a fun and spontaneous music-making experience.

7. Dine out, carbon-free (well, almost) – On-site catering is by Lov Events UK, whose pop-up cafe bars offer a selection of wood-fired pizzas finished off with edible flowers, burgers and fries, mulled wine and more. All cutlery and crockery is Edenware from Go-Pak and fully compostable.


Ian Sim, chairman of The Enchanted Forest Community Trust, which operates the event, said: “From humble beginnings as a three-night event with just 1500 visitors in 2002, it’s phenomenal to see how much The Enchanted Forest has grown during its 17 years. The love and support we have received is amazing and we are looking forward to welcoming a record 80,000 visitors this year.

“Our reputation as one of Scotland’s and the UK’s must-see autumn events is partly testament to the time we have spent over the years growing a community of dedicated partners, volunteers and followers, believing in what we are doing and listening and responding to feedback so that we can come back better each year. Despite growing significantly we are still a very intimate event and that’s what people seem to love the most. We don’t ever want to lose that.”


Faskally Wood is home to a diverse range of wildlife. There are kingfishers and herons, and goldeneye ducks that nest in the trees. The 2018 Environmental Impact Study found that the wildlife in the forest shows no signs of being affected by the activities surrounding the event.

As the show goes from strength to strength, supporting the ecology in Faskally Wood is important to the continued success of The Enchanted Forest.

“We have always been keen to ensure that the event has minimal impact on the beautiful environment in which we operate, and the wildlife who call Faskally Wood their home,” says Ian.


An independent Environmental Impact Study in 2018 confirmed that the Enchanted Forest team takes all possible measures to minimise impact on the forest environment and the wildlife in the forest.

Fully compostable Edenware

And, when conservation work changed the landscape around Loch Dunmore, the creative team were quick to react to this new opportunity. They removed non-native rhododendron plants to encourage biodiversity and open up more of the loch – which inspired the name of the 2017 show: Oir An Uisge – ‘edge of the water’.

Rhododendron ponticum forms dense thickets and shades out native plants. If left uncontrolled, it will eventually dominate the habitat to the virtual exclusion of all other plant life.

Forestry Commission Scotland plan to replace to replace the rhododendron – which it classes as Scotland’s most invasive non-native plant – with more typical riparian vegetation, such as hazel, willow, alder and aspen.



Photography: Angus Forbes /Lynda Hamilton Parker 

Did you know?

  • Faskally was purchased by the Forestry Commission in 1953. It covers 365 hectares and is divided in two by the old and new A9. The area where the Enchanted Forest takes place is approximately 66 hectares in size.
  • Faskally is derived from the Gaelic for “stance by the ferry” which probably relates to an old ferry crossing on the river Tummel.
  • The forest attracts approximately 70,000 visitors a year, excluding those to the Enchanted Forest.

Find out more, or book tickets, here 


The great outdoors

How to set up an Autumn-themed nature table

A nature setting to suit the seasons – Emily Hamalainen of Little Acorns Early Years talks about the educational and therapeutic benefits of setting up a nature table at home 

As shades of Autumn start to appear and nature transforms itself so vividly, what better way to help children contextualise and reinforce these seasonal changes than with a nature setting within our homes?

A nature setting might be on a window sill, a shelf or a side table – anywhere children can easily see it. The great thing about a nature setting is that it can include anything at all found on your nature walks – pinecones, stones, or bits of bark, for example. We even had a snake skin on ours that our daughter found on holiday.

It’s also nice to use a light cloth hung up as a back drop in a colour to suit the season and a candle or vase filled with flowers or seed heads as a focal point.


As Autumn arrives, here’s an example of what you might find on a nature table:

          Burnt orange muslin cloth draped over a side table

          Conkers and their spikey husks

          Leaves of varying changing colours

          A beeswax candle (lit when supervised)

          Various seed heads in a vase

          Feathers, stones, moss and other woodland finds

If your nature setting starts to become cluttered or untidy with your children’s enthusiasm for collecting and one season changes to the next, you can reorganise it with a fresh backdrop to suit the season, fresh seasonal foliage in a vase and a gentle tidy. The setting will naturally evolve visually as you add items with the changing season.


Now when your little one so keenly give you their array of ‘presents’ and ‘treasures’ they’ve found in nature, you can show your thanks by placing them pride of place on your nature setting. For children this brings them so much joy – helping them to feel valued and reinforce their love of the great outdoors. Not only that, it also conjures up questions from deep within- ‘mummy, why are conkers so spikey on the outside and smooth on the inside?’, ‘daddy, why do bees like flowers so much?’ and can even become an aid in story telling. Learning through nature makes learning all the more fun!


The nature setting is a place of beauty where you can create a still life of a moment in time but even more than that, it’s also a tool for inspiring your child’s imagination and bringing the world around them truly alive!


Emily Hamalainen is the co-founder and group leader of Little Acorns Early Years, which provides Waldorf Steiner and nature-inspired learning opportunities in Ayr.

Find out more about the work of Little Acorns Early Years in the October/November 2018 issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine.




The great outdoors

10 nature-inspired ways to keep the kids entertained in your own garden

Now that we’re more than half-way through the school holidays, you may have exhausted all your ideas (and budget) trying to keep the kids (and their friends) entertained throughout the summer. If so, don’t worry – help is at hand! We are all too familiar with this scenario and have compiled a list of our top tips for keeping the kids entertained while you (try to) soak up some of the last of the summer sun – or at least have a cup of tea…

  • Organise a bug hunt

You’ll be surprised at what you can find in the back garden just by lifting a few plant pots or turning over some stones or rocks. It’s a mini beast haven out there – even if you hardly have any plants to speak of. Expect to spot different bee varieties, ladybirds, caterpillars and butterflies, spiders, flies, hornets, green flies and ants, daddy longlegs (or crane fly), and definitely a few ants. Of course, the variety depends on what you have in your garden, but kids can have great fun spotting them, logging them, looking at them, identifying the species and even drawing them. Don’t forget to arm them with a notepad and pen and a little ‘bug jar’ so they can look at them up close before letting them go again.


  • Give them a bowl of water

Obviously, any garden activity requires supervision but kids (especially the young ones) can have a ball with a big bowl or basin of water. Pop in a few toys for your toddler to ‘fish out’, give them some plastic dishes to wash, or add some soap suds and hey presto, you have a mini car wash. If you don’t mind the outcome too much, you might let them loose on your own car or even the windows. Give them a scourer or old rag and let them clean the swing, the sand pit lid, the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe or whatever takes their fancy. It’s also a great way of getting them into ‘helping out’ around the house and garden.

  • Have a picnic

Throw down a blanket in the shade and give them some juice and a few healthy snacks, such as strawberries, cheese chunks, carrot and cucumber sticks with a houmous dip, homemade muffins or whatever else takes your fancy. Mix it up by making it a teddy bear’s picnic with their favourite soft toys or inviting a few little friends round.


  • Paint rocks

Join the craze that’s been sweeping the globe and get the kids painting their own rocks for others to find. You could ‘plant’ them in and around your own garden for other members of the family to discover or take a walk and pop some at the beach, woods or local park. Who knows? You might even find a few while you’re there. This is a great first foray into art therapy and keeps all the mess outside.


  • Make a tent

Dig out all your old sheets, blankets and curtains and make a tent. It doesn’t need to be particularly big or anything fancy as half the fun is in the making. See what you can find lying around for poles or rope in the deck chairs and secure the sheeting with clothes pegs. Once it’s built, you probably won’t see the kids for the rest of the afternoon. Don’t forget to give them a blanket and few cushions (and snacks) to help make it cosy. Alternatively, if you have enough natural materials around, you might like to challenge the older kids to build a den.


  • Get foraging

Did you know there are at least 15 edible plants you can forage in your own garden? These include daisies, dandelions, clover, nettles, elderflowers, violets and honesty. Give the kids an introduction to foraging (and perhaps even medical herbalism if you have the skills) and have fun at the same time. All they need is a little basket and an eye for what’s edible (with your help, of course). Just be sure to do your research first if you’re new to foraging. We can guarantee you’ll have fun finding out what to do with the plant power growing in your garden.

  • Start bird spotting

Get the kids to make a chart to help them start identifying the different species of bird that visit the garden daily. All they need is a picture of the bird and space to add tally marks every time they see one of the same. If you have a feeding station, you might like to pop out some high protein foods, such as black sunflower seeds or raisins, to encourage the birds to stop at a good vantage point. This is a great introduction to ornithology and you might even like to take their research further to find out what their habits are and how you can help to sustain them at different times of year. Feeding garden birds all year round can really help to ensure their survival. At this time of year, you can expect to see pigeons and seagulls – and even the odd garden warbler – at least!


  • Set up a wildlife garden

By leaving a small patch of grass uncut the next time you get the lawnmower out you’ll already be creating a little wildlife haven – especially for the bees. Often the uncut clover in one garden can support a whole hive of bees so it’s worth considering the next time you cut the grass. Although this isn’t really something for the kids to get involved in, they might want to expand the wildlife appeal by putting out some water or wet cat food which can really help hedgehogs and other wildlife to hydrate and refuel when summers are particularly hot. Nearby, you might want to pop up a bat box or a bug hotel, which you can even make yourselves and nail to the garden fence. You might even want to plant some flowers which attract certain wildlife or check out some of the other ways to help and stop further declining numbers.

  • Get a friendly game going

Whether it’s football, badminton or rounders, summer is a great excuse to get kids off the sofa and more active – even if they’re not naturally sporty. This is a great thing to get going for the older kids, who might want to get a community-type game going either in the garden, local park or patch of grass which is central to where they live. Appeal to their competitive nature and pit the adults against the kids. It’ll do you the world of good too and transport you straight back to your youth!

  • Invest in some new garden toys

Once you’ve tried all of the above, why not invest in some new garden toys? You’ll get some mileage out of them before the winter creeps in and they’ll be there waiting for you (albeit in the shed) for next year. You might even grab a bargain in the summer sales. Our favourite buys include IKEA’s Circus Tent; the Chad Valley Sand & Water Pit – available from Argos; the inflatable Roller Wheel; and the Thumbs Up Retro Games Handheld Console ,which includes more than 150 classic games, for older kids (and adults too). unnamed (61)It might be a games console but it still encourages ‘unplugging’ from the internet and is a great way to have your older children join you in the garden. They’ll have fun checking out all these retro games that we parents remember so well as they lounge on the garden furniture, in the make-shift den or under the gazebo.