Do you love Christmas lights? Looking for Christmas days out in the North West to enjoy with your family? Then you need to read my Lightopia Manchester review. We were given press tickets to review the experience on it’s opening weekend. I took my husband and our two girls who are 5 and 8 along on Saturday night and we had a fantastic festive evening. Read on to find out more including my top tips.
Ad- I was given a family press ticket in exchange for this review. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own.
Where is Lightopia Manchester?
Lightopia Manchester is in Heaton Park which is on the north side of Manchester. It’s really easy to get to my car or public transport. We travelled by car but you can also travel to Lightopia easily by bus or tram. Find full details here.
Lightopia Manchester parking
There are two car parks, North and South, which means you can start/finish the trail in two different places. It’s worth noting that your ticket does not include parking so make sure you remember to book a parking ticket if you need it. They can be bought on the night too but for £7 instead of £5 so it’s worth planning ahead.
We travelled to Lightopia Heaton park by car via the M60 and parked in the south car park. Full details are sent to you by email a few days before your visit. We found the car park easy to find and it was well organised. We were quickly shown to a parking spot.
Some of the parking is on the grass to extend the amount of parking available but they have put down lots of metal sheets which mean you don’t need to worry about your car getting stuck in the mud.
It was a little bit of a walk from the parking to the start of the trail and then from the south entrance, you enter via the larger of the two ride and food stall areas. We arrived 15 minutes before our 19:15 entry time and were able to walk straight in as there was no queue at all.
Lightopia festival Manchester
There are two entrances for Lightopia Heaton park depending on if you use the north or south car park. The route through Heaton park is circular so whichever car park you use, you will still see everything.
We were starting from the South so we entered via the larger fairground ride section and finished back here after seeing the water show over the lake.
Our first sight of Lightopia was the fairground and it’s worth noting that the rides are not included in your ticket price. There is a good range of rides for all ages with smaller rides for little ones, through to much bigger rides for teenagers and adults.
There were also several food and drink huts and the usual ones selling light-up toys too and some toilet facilities too. There are also a few light installations in this area like a circus tent and a lion jumping through a hoop.
After walking through this area the trail starts with lots of light installations. We visited on the weekend of Storm Arwen and there was some evidence of storm damage in this area with one collection of light installations not working but I hope they will be fixed for your visit.
The first really impressive light installation we came to was this stunning pair of huge dragons. They are absolutely beautiful in person and the music really adds to the atmosphere too.
The paths through Lightopia are very wide and suitable for pushchairs too. At no point did we feel like the event was too busy for the site. It was busy but there is plenty of space on the trail and having two entrances helps too. Everyone on the trail should be walking in the same direction as well.
One of my children’s favourite sections is the interactive floor where you can walk on a winding path of colour changing lights. It was a very popular area with all the kids there. My two loved it so much and were a little disappointed that there were no more interactive areas. They did enjoy the other areas too but this floor was definitely their favourite part.
Not long after this, you reach the North entrance. Here you will find a food court where you can pre-book dining experiences. There is also a ferris wheel at this end as well as lots of light installations too.
The big Christmas tree was also at this end. It was such a shame that the lights weren’t working on the tree (presumably storm damage) but the rest of the lights surrounding it were still stunning and the music again added to the atmosphere as the different lights lit up and switched off in a sequence so it was nice to stand an watch for a little while.
Of course there is a light tunnel which is always a lovely addition to a light trail. The perfect place for taking family photos.
There were lots more lovely light installations before we got back to the south entrance and the grand finale of the water show over the lake. I’ve never seen anything like it. As well as lights there are images projected into the sky and music too. All very festive like Santa and Christmas trees. Such a lovely way to end the trail (or mid point if you park at the North car park).
We also noticed a traditional tram ride across the park which was an additional fee.
By the time we reached the end of the trail, we’d walked a couple of miles and it was way past the kids bedtime. Just time to enjoy a bag of doughnuts before walking back to the car.
We were there about 90 minutes. We didn’t go on any of the rides and we also didn’t rush through the trail. We had a fantastic evening and if we had got an earlier time slot, we would have spent a little longer.
We really enjoyed our evening at Lightopia. We visited the night after a storm and there was a delay in finding out if the event would run that night whilst the team risk assessed. Fortunately it did go ahead and I feel the team made the right decision. It felt really safe and the wind had completely died down. Only one small collection of light installations and the main Christmas tree lights weren’t working but there were many, many more lights that were.
The light installations are stunning and we really enjoyed the water show too. My kids loved the interactive rainbow coloured floor. The paths are flat and really wide (road width in some areas). We visited on the first Saturday at 7pm and there were no queues to get in. It’s a lovely family night out.
Top tips for visiting Lightopia Manchester
- Be prepared for the additional costs of rides and food and drink or be prepared to walk swiftly through these areas.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. It was freezing cold on the night we visited so we all had plenty of layers on!
- Make sure you have suitable shoes on to walk a couple of miles. We wore walking boots which are really practical.
- The trail is very suitable for pushchairs and prams.
- Don’t forget to book a parking ticket with your event tickets.
- There are toilt facilities at both ends of the trail.
- Book your tickets here