The inaugural Enchanted Gardens Light Trail has been hailed as a resounding success.
Hosted by South Swindon Parish Council and designed and delivered by light art pioneers, Luminism, the 1.5km light trail took more than 27,000 visitors on a magical journey through the historic Town Gardens in Old Town.
The trail also raised almost £25,000 for Great Western Hospital charity Brighter Futures.
Swindon’s newest festive attraction included an array of light art sculptures and interactive installations, culminating in a light show in the Art Deco Bowl.
One visitor said in a review: “We honestly thought it was fantastic and worth every penny. It’s well organised, lights in every corner covering every tree, food and drink at reasonable prices and the carol singers helped bring that lovely Christmas ambience.
"Our baby girl loved it. I really hope this is a yearly thing. Well done to those all involved with organising this. It’s incredible value!”
Another visitor who attended on the opening night described the trail as “...a perfect way to spend a couple of hours. We were looking forward to it, but it surpassed all our expectations.”
As part of the illuminations, three local schools were invited to create one of the light art sculptures. Circular mirrors were decorated by 250 pupils from Mountford Manor Primary, Holy Family Catholic Primary and Goddard Park Primary schools, depicting their thoughts and feelings on the previous year and their hopes for the year to come.
The mirrors formed a large installation in the gardens' historic bandstand and once illuminated, washed the ground with hundreds of beams of light.
Cllr Neil Hopkins, Chair of South Swindon’ Parish Council’s Leisure, Environment and Amenities Committee said: “After taking on Town Gardens around two years ago, the parish council has invested heavily to bring the park back to a high standard and this process is ongoing.
"With such wonderful community assets, our parish council has been forward-thinking in looking for ways to use Town Gardens to generate revenues to reinvest in the facilities including the refurbishment of the 1936 art deco concert bowl.
“In June I presented the proposal for a light trail to our parish councillors, who felt that this would bring a great new outdoor, and therefore safe, event to the Town Gardens. I am delighted that the Enchanted Gardens Light Trail has been enjoyed whilst showing the best of Swindon and our parish.”
To further support the local community, the Enchanted Gardens Light Trail proudly partnered with local charity Brighter Futures, the charity for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which provides care to around 1.2m contacts every year from across Swindon and Wiltshire.
Brighter Futures supports the trust by funding equipment, supporting the education of staff, and improving the environment for all staff and patients.
As part of the event partnership, £1 from every ticket sold was donated to the charity, and the charity also had a stand at the event each evening.
Cllr Hopkins added: “Councillors wanted to support a great local health service-related charity this year – Brighter Futures - and I am delighted that we have raised nearly £25,000 directly and provided an opportunity for them through their stall to raise over £4,000 towards their work. South Swindon Parish Council will be discussing whether to make this a regular annual event.”
Kenresa Stratford, Community and Events Fundraising Manager for Brighter Futures, said: “Working in partnership with South Swindon Parish Council as a beneficiary for this wonderful event has been a real privilege. We raised over £4,000 from those visiting to buy raffle tickets and stocking fillers from us.
"The light trail really brought some magic to the end of what was another uncertain year for us all and receiving over £24,000 from the ticket sales for the trail is marvellous.
"We’re really grateful to South Swindon Parish council for choosing us as their charity beneficiary for Enchanted Gardens Light Trail and want to thank everyone who attended and got behind this new and exciting event in Swindon.”
The Enchanted Gardens Light Trail is one of a range of events organised by South Swindon Parish Council in the Town Gardens.