It’s a heart-warming story, so we can’t help telling it. Not long ago, back in 2014, a farmer and grandfather to five young children living in different parts of the UK wanted to create a special place where his little bundles of joy could reunite with him and each other. At one of his family get-togethers, it dawned on Mr Hendry that the best way to do this would be to bring none other than Santa Claus himself to the Scottish woodlands, so in July of that year, he set to work – bringing to life a concept that embodied the epitome of children’s imagination and wonder in the realms of nature.
The result of this tender grandfatherly labour of love is Woodland Experiences, which for the third year running is welcoming not just the Hendry family to its natural wonderland, but families from all over Scotland and further afield. Situated on the fringes of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park outside the small village of Balfron, we’re pleased to be witness to a spectacle of festive cheer, magical lights and colourful woods steeped in Celtic charm that takes place not far from our very own grounds in Stirlingshire.
The Woodland Light Experience
Running from 25 October to 12 November this autumn, the Woodland Light Experience is an outdoor light show coming to life in the enchanting woods near Balfron. A finalist in the Scottish Outdoor & Leisure Awards for Best Outdoor Experience, “Reflections” makes dynamic use of the natural landscape, different sources of light, music and water to bring about a multi-sensorial immersion into the woods that awes and marvels.
Impeccably organised, the event is easily accessible from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Stirling and is suitable for all ages, with ample free parking on-site. Storytelling sessions cost a mere £1 and run every 20 minutes from 4.30pm to 6.30pm every evening of the event. Entrance is free for any child under 3 years of age and tickets start from £12 for adults and £6 for children above 3 years old. Family tickets are also available, starting from just £34. This year, the Woodland Light Experience is working in conjunction with First to provide transport from main hubs in the central belt of Scotland. Shuttles will be leaving Glasgow Buchanan Street Bus Station, Milngavie Railway Station and Stirling Bus Station on Saturday 28 October, Wednesday 1 November, Saturday 4 November, Wednesday 8 November, and Saturday 11 November.
Santa’s Woodland Experience
Not content with just turning the Balfron woods into a playground for his grandchildren and other kids’ senses, Mr Hendry topped his achievement off with the presence of the very mascot of Christmas itself – none other than Santa Claus! Santa’s Woodland Experience takes your kids on a festive adventure through the woods in search of Santa’s home. You’ll see all kinds of critters – or Santa’s woodland neighbours – on your way to the cabin, and Santa will be waiting in his humble abode to take notes about what the little ones wish for this Christmas.
There are 17 dates set aside for the experience throughout the month of December, which will go on until the eve of Christmas Day. Tickets are priced at £7.50 for adults, £15 for children and £6.50 for infants including a gift – otherwise it’s a free entrance for infants if you’re opting out of the gift from Santa.
Make This Christmas one to Remember
Mr Hendry couldn’t have fashioned a better magnet to pull his grandchildren from all four corners of the UK to their grandpa’s dwelling. The first idea that flowered in his mind took 14 acres of Scottish woodland and dressed them up for children’s ultimate fantasies. What child wouldn’t feel like their favourite fairytale is materialising in front of their very eyes in this ambience?
While you’re dipping your kids’ hearts into the warm fuzziness of Christmas anticipation, how about wrapping a metaphorical bow around the experience and treating your family to a stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro?
Some of our Christmas highlights include the menu of renowned Scottish chef, Nick Nairn, at The Kailyard, The Christmas markets and shops in nearby Stirling, and – of course – our festive hospitality that never disappoints. Make your family’s Christmas an unforgettable one this year!