For one weekend only, Delamere Forest is transformed. If you’re looking for something magical to do with the kids this weekend, you’re in for a nice surprise
Forests: in fairy tales they typically belong to wolves, bears, witches and sad princes masquerading as frogs. You know, the kinds of places your mother warned you never to go into alone. Well, what do the fairy tales know, eh? This weekend, a Cheshire forest becomes an altogether brighter place as the folks behind the family-tastic Just So Festival debut the Spellbound Forest, a major family art event that promises to breathe new life into forgotten fairy tales
Delamere Forest, the Forestry Association woodland that sprawls over the Cheshire countryside, plays host to the weekend. Its winding, pine-needle-coated paths form the backdrop to two days that see storytelling, live theatre, dance, new artworks, chandeliers hanging from trees and even giant nest-building take place within the forest. Families can attend either weekend day; on each, they walk along paths populated by not-at-all-scary performers and musicians. Best of all (at least in our literary book) is the fact that the fairy tales that will be played out are re-discovered English classics. There is no Rumpelstiltskin (German) or Cinderella (possibly ancient Greek); instead, children can uncover the delights of four folk tales that had almost faded from our collective memory. “Well-known tales such as Red Riding Hood have been done so many times,” says organiser Rowan Hoban, “yet when we looked we discovered the most enchanting yet overlooked stories, and it seemed fitting to stage these classic English tales in a classic English forest.”
Among the old-yet-new stories is The Earl Mar’s Daughter, where a young girl whose love, a prince-turned-dove, rescues her from forced marriage with the aid of a flying flotilla: swans and cygnets, herons, cranes and a hawk. “It is a gorgeous story that we will tell visually at Delamere,” says Hoban. “And when people arrive, they’ll walk through a beautiful archway and into that world.”
All in all, Spellbound Forest looks to be something of a one-off for the small people in your life.
The Spellbound Forest, Delamere Forest, 19 & 20 May 2012, £12.50 adults, £7.50 children aged 3-16, £35 family ticket (2 adults, 2 children), under 3s free.