Belfast Telegraph

Let there be light as Mount Stewart prepares for illuminating festival

BY LINDA STEWART

The eerie woods of Mount Stewart will come to life in a spectacular light display for three weekends this autumn.

In the first National Trust event of its kind in Northern Ireland, the woods will glimmer and glow with haunting colours as hundreds of trees are illuminated against the night sky in the Festival of Light.

Award-winning lighting designer Walter Holt, from Magherafelt, has previously worked at Mount Stewart illuminating trees, but the new festival will take his plans to a whole new level. The idea came one cold October night as Walter hung from a tree installing lights.

Event manager Rachel Hart explained: "Walter spent five nights consecutively setting up the lighting for our Halloween experience. The lights were then only used for one night. We agreed we wanted hundreds of trees lit. We were both inspired by the popularity of similar events in Scotland and England and thought that we had the most beautiful venue here in which to bring something similar to Northern Ireland."

Mr Holt said: "It has always been my ambition to develop the lighting at Mount Stewart for a stand-alone event – the setting is stunningly unique and offers the most incredible blank canvas for me to work with."

Visitors will be able to walk the illuminated lake trail and to view animated light and sound shows from set viewing platforms.

The festival has taken a year to plan and would not have been possible without the help and support of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Ards Tourism, Rachel added.

"We always saw the potential in creating a stand-alone Festival of Light here, and thankfully NITB and Ards Tourism recognised this, and with their support we have been able to bring this dream alive," she said.

The event will run on weekends in November. Tickets are available now through Visit Belfast on 028 9024 6609 or www.visit-belfast.com. They cost £8 for adults, £5 for children, and family tickets (2 adults and 2 children) are £23.50.

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