The annual sound and light spectacular which attracts tens of thousands of visitors to a Highland wood every year has been named the UK’s best cultural event.
A record 70,000 people snapped up tickets for The Enchanted Forest when it was staged at Faskally Wood, in Pitlochry, in October.
The event, which was extended to run for a month due to popular demand in 2015, saw visitor numbers rise a further 13 per cent this year, and a complete sell-out declared in the first week.
The Enchanted Forest, which started life as a three-night attraction for 1500 people, is now believed to be worth more than £3 million for the Perthshire economy.
The popularity of The Enchanted Forest has led to the creation of sound and light shows across the country, including the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.
The Enchanted Forest’s organisers say around half the event’s visitors choose to stay overnight in the Perthshire area. More than 90 attendees cite the event as their main reason for visiting the area.
Its latest success comes after Perthshire was hit by the loss of two major events - T in the Park and Dougie MacLean’s Perthshire Amber festival - in 2017. The Enchanted Forest was honoured at the UK Event Awards in London just weeks after organisers picked up three prizes at the Scottish Event Awards.
Ian Sim, chairman of The Enchanted Forest Community Trust. which runs the event, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled by this accolade. Being named the UK’s best cultural event underscores all the hard work that goes into not only putting on The Enchanted Forest, but keeping it fresh each year.
“People travel from all over the world for the show and it generates lots of positive press for Highland Perthshire. We’re delighted to be attracting so many visitors to the area at what has traditionally been a quiet time of year.”
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of national tourism agency VisitScotland said: “As a former winner of our prestigious Thistle Award for Best Event, The Enchanted Forest continues to go from strength to strength and is a truly worthy winner of this award.
“The creative team has an exceptional way of refreshing their approach every year to create a unique event that showcases Scotland’s natural landscape at its very best. It is a must-see event for people of all ages.
“Events like this don’t just provide entertainment - they boost the local conomy and represent a multi-million pound opportunity to increase jobs as well as deliver cultural and social benefits.”