Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park in Gateshead

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The 2018 edition of Enchanted Parks has the theme The House of Lost and Found. It is being held in Saltwell Park, Gateshead, from the 4th to the 9th of December.

MannedUp was invited to attend the press evening on 4th December. We sent the journalist, photographer and travel writer Stuart Forster, who is based in the north-east of England.

Geordies may well have a reputation for sauntering around in just T-shirts on winter nights out but there was none of that during the chilly first night of 2018’s Enchanted Parks. Visitors to Saltwell Park were wrapped up warm against cold that had seen a hoar frost survive the day on lawns and hedges in Gateshead.

The Lost and Found Tree by Dave Young at Enchanted Parks in Saltwell Park, Gateshead
The Lost and Found Tree by Dave Young.

Enchanted Parks in Gateshead

Enchanted Parks has become established an annual wintertime event. It takes advantage of the early nightfall during December to draw families into the park to follow a themed trail with art installations. The House of Lost and Found features character actors in steampunk-inspired costumes.

The theme involves a story created by Susan Mulholland. The House of Lost and Found is about a time-travelling fair staffed by quirky, marginalised individuals who aim to reunite people who have lost objects and non-tangible things, such as hope and love. It introduces the character Peter Chevalier as the leader of the fair.

A light along the trail of Enchanted Parks, which meanders through Saltwell Park in Gateshead.
A light along the trail of Enchanted Parks, which meanders through Saltwell Park in Gateshead.

Art installations at Enchanted Parks

The Enchanted Parks trail, through Saltwell Park, features more than 20 art installations. The works include The Garden of Lost and Found Voices, by Aswarm, featuring hanging umbrellas and recordings of the voices of people speaking up against injustice, and The Lost and Found Tree by Dave Young. Whispering voices are part of The Ephermal Host by Roma Yagnik which can be heard along the trail.

Merry Glow Round, by And Now, at Enchanted Parks.
Merry Glow Round, by And Now, at Enchanted Parks.

Merry Glow Round, by And Now, features the flickering of lamps, lost luggage tags describing lost objects and revolving carousels with music box-style tunes.

Visitors can lay their hands on plasma globes, sketch on glowing graffiti boards and leave their shadows on a wall, courtesy of Eido’s The Shadow Collector.

Van de Graaff generator at Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park in Gateshead.
Electric stuff! The interior of a plasma lamp fizzes and shimmers at Enchanted Parks’ The Shadow Collector.

A park with Victorian origins

The park, formerly the estate of Victorian industrialist William Wailes, spans a 55-acre site. It’s located roughly a mile from Gateshead Interchange, the public transport hub served by buses and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The mansion in which Wailes resided is now known as Saltwell Towers. The grand building hosts a café, from which refreshments are being served during Enchanted Parks, and market stalls.

Food is available from the food trucks at By the River Brew Co.’s Hawker Market. Visitors can choose between dishes served by vendors including Nan Bei, Medhead, Scream For Pizza and Fat Hippo.

Based upon the experience of visiting on the first night of Enchanted Parks, be prepared for pathways busy with pushchairs and toddlers early in the evening. Couples and groups of friends may find visiting later preferable.

Star of the show? Nova by Studio Vertigo at Enchanted Parks.
Star of the show? Nova by Studio Vertigo at Enchanted Parks.

Practical information for visiting Enchanted Parks

Tickets for can be purchased via the Enchanted Parks website. Entry is priced at £9 (plus a 50 pence booking fee) for adults and £4.50 for children aged 4 to 16. Children aged three and under can attend free-of-charge but tickets are required (to enable the event organisers to monitor numbers).

Entry is allocated in 15-minute slots, from 4.15pm to 8.30pm. The organisers suggest allowing around 90 minutes to visit Enchanted Parks but, of course, people are free to spend less or more than that at the event.

No tickets are sold at the gate of Saltwell Park. They must be purchased in advance.

The House of Lost and Found app, developed for Enchanted Parks, is available from the App Store and Google Play. It includes information about the installations and artists. It enables visitors to personalise their visit. By entering the four-digit code that is displayed on signs next to the installations it unlocks additional content.

A footpath in Saltwell Park during the 2018 edition of Enchanted Parks.
A footpath in Saltwell Park during the 2018 edition of Enchanted Parks.

Getting to Saltwell Park

Parking in the car park by the Joicey Road entrance to Saltwell Park (NE9 5AX) costs £5 (cash only). Priority is given to Blue Badge holders, who can park free-of-charge.

Bus numbers 1 and 21 run in the direction of Saltwell Park from Newcastle. So too do buses 53 and 54, which stop at Gateshead Interchange. Bus 28 also stops near the park.

Disclosure: Our writer was invited to attend Enchanted Parks’ Press Evening and was provided with entry plus tokens for food and drink. Neither NewcastleGateshead nor Gateshead Council were given an opportunity to review or approve this article.

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