Kirkstall Abbey transformed into magical fairyland
The dramatic ruins of Kirkstall Abbey were transformed into a fairy kingdom with a difference this weekend, as entertainers took over the grounds of the heritage site. From dance lessons with Tinkerbell to hula-hooping with the fairies and treasure hunts with goblins, there were activities galore for young families, and some added spice for the parents to enjoy. For one of the key characters of any magical re-enactment - Rapunzel - was star of the show with her new sassy personality.
“It’s great fun, and it really is magical,” said Julia Benfield, director of Sneaky Experience which organised the event over Saturday and Sunday.
“The children love the fairies, and the goblins, there’s something for everyone. And we built some bits into the script for parents.
“We’ve tried to keep it away from the stereotypes. These days, it’s not just about waiting to be rescued by your husband. It’s fun to dress up in party dresses, but Rapunzel isn’t waiting around. She doesn’t even like to be called Rapunzel - it’s ‘Rap’ now. She’s not waiting around at the top of her tower for some guy, she’s out having fun with Cinders.”
Around 3,500 people attended the event over the course of two days, taking part in the activities and enjoying the food, drink and craft stalls.
There was a fashion show with the Snow Queen, rhyming with Rumplestiltskin and storytelling with the wise Caterpillar. Robin Hood, Rapunzel and Alice in Wonderland were guiding guests along mystical tale trails, and there were pantomime performances from Hook and Peter Pan.
Edie Mahoney, aged three and from Calverley, and Hania Skapska, four of Horsforth, spent time with Rapunzel while Maisie Barker, aged five and from Cookridge, was with the Mad Hatter.
For six-year-old Ruby Scales, of Horsforth, and five-year-old Emily Shirlow, from Headingley, the Caterpillar’s stories were the biggest hit.
Guests ranged in age from as young as two up to eight years old, and Mrs Benfield said around 80 per cent were dressed up for the occasion.
“Kirkstall Abbey is almost a set in itself,” she said. “It’s such a great environment. Tinkerbell has probably been one of the most popular, everyone has loved the dance lessons. The hula-hooping has been busy, the pantomime has had at least 100 people for every performance. And the adults just loved Rapunzel.”