Lightopia is back in Manchester for another year, providing an immersive escape from the winter chill. But at £22.50 per person, is it worth your money?
It’s fair to say that Lightopia has a lot to offer. From dazzling exhibitions and light instalments, to fairgrounds and delicious food stalls, there’s something for everyone. However, it’s clear from the start that the exhibition is aimed at families, with bundled-up children being ushered by the parents everywhere you look. To some extent, it adds to the festive spirit of the exhibition, providing a chance for guests to relive their own festive childhoods. However, it can slow things down with parents snapping pictures or gushing tantrums.
Food-wise, it was hard to resist what was on offer. Stalls were dotted throughout the trail, resembling German Christmas markets with vendors selling from wooden huts. Unlike some Christmas shows, everything was reasonably priced. You could get hot chocolates from £3, or opt for a spiced hot choc for £4. Food met most allergen requirements, with vegan and gluten-free items available. Guests had the option to pick from sweet treats, stone-baked pizzas, roasts, German Christmas classics, and carnival snacks, keeping you well-fed throughout the trail.
As for the trail, each display varied in ‘wow’ factor. Each had a theme such as Water Creatures, A Book of Rebirth, and Rise of the Pheonix. There’s no denying the exhibition quality was high, with each light feature being carefully crafted and glowing beautifully. However, some themes were a little lacklustre, such as the Rainbow Umbrella, which was a small display that stood isolated from the rest of the trail.
There were definitely some standouts on the trail, such as the Water Show. What initially appears as just a park fountain is quickly transformed into anything and everything. One minute, the fountain depicts an angel spreading its wings and taking off, the next it’s replicating the winter wonderland landscape from Elf. Paired with Christmas tunes like George Michael’s ‘Last Christmas’ and the Jackson 5’s ‘Santa Claus is Comin to Town’, it provides a wholesome and mesmerising display.
That being said, my all-time favourite display was set in the Secret Flower Garden. As you pass the extravagant and bold Pheonix display, the sound of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast starts echoing through the trees. As you turn the corner, the forest corridor is illuminated with giant roses and lilies, with a canopy of stars twinkling above. It couldn’t have gotten any better for me, creating a sense of comfort and awe.
Overall, Lightopia is the perfect place to take parents or dates. You have the chance to explore North Manchester and have an alcohol-free night out with loved ones. The exhibition is far less crowded or stressful than Manchester’s Christmas Markets, whilst still providing the Christmas spirit. The only downside is the cost. At £22.50, alongside the commute costs to even get to Heaton Park, its’ undoubtedly a pricey night out. If you have the budget, it’s well worth a visit. Otherwise, a cosy night in will work just as well.
Book here to visit Manchester’s Lightopia between 24 November 2022 – 2 January 2023.