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Lilidorei at Alnwick Garden: Why to visit the largest play structure in the world

Lilidorei at Alnwick Garden: Why to visit the largest play structure in the world

With its unspoilt sandy beaches, multiple castles, proximity to both coast and countryside, Northumberland is a UK travel gem loved by holidaymakers. In fact, its tiny picturesque village of Bamburgh was recently crowned the UK’s best seaside town for the third year running.

Half an hour south of Bamburgh is Alnwick, a market town famous for a castle which can be seen in the Harry Potter franchise and the new Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves film.

Right next to Alnwick Castle, and incredibly popular with visitors, is the beautiful Alnwick Garden. This attraction is known for its Poison Garden – where, behind black iron gates, there are 100 “intoxicating and narcotic” plants – plus the Grand Cascade waterfall, Cherry Orchard and other floricultural highlights.

Visitors flock to the Alnwick Garden, which is a registerd charity and has a history dating to the 18th century, all year round. But it’s a new addition, in the form of the world’s largest play structure, that has caused ripples of excitement among tourists and locals.

The play structure is set amongst a growing forest of Nordic Christmas trees

(Phil Wilkinson)

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Lilidorei is a magical play village with an otherworldly theme, a £15.5 million project developed by the Duchess of Northumberland, who led the rivival of the gardens in the mid-1990s after they’d fallen into disrepair.

Within the village – pronounced to rhyme with story – is the play structure itself, alongside elf, troll, fairy and goblin houses, designed to appeal to both children and adults. The entire area has been constructed using natural materials and is completely plastic-free, while over 1,300 Nordic Christmas trees surround the area.

Ahead of the official public opening today, I visited to see if this brand-new attraction could live up to its growing hype.

A medieval-style gate signals the start of the play village at Lilidorei

(Helen Wilson-Beevers for The Independent)

Following a winding path down the side of The Treehouse restaurant to reach Lilidorei’s entrance with my two children, we soaked up the woodland setting. While it’s easy to get to the play village within the gardens, Lilidorei is cleverly obscured from the road and feels hidden away (which adds some magical charm). There’s a medieval-style gate signalling its entrance, and once inside the…

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