Beds, Herts & Bucks

Woburn Abbey receives complaints about lights festival

Lights at Luminaries Woburnensis Image copyright Adam Fairclough
Image caption Some visitors said "a few fairy lights" did not warrant the entrance fee of £10.50

A winter festival has been labelled a "shambles" by some visitors for its long queues, thick mud, blown-out candles and melting sculptures.

Luminaries Woburnensis at Woburn Abbey promised animated fire models and a UV light trail.

Matt Morelli from Bedford said he "waded through a quagmire" towards a fire, which turned out to be "a figure of a man in a burning cart".

Organisers said they were offering visitors a full refund for the event.

"Unfortunately we experienced some issues with this year's Luminaries Woburnensis event," a Woburn Abbey spokesman said.

"We are very disappointed that all of the hard work that our staff did put into this event resulted in such an unrewarding experience for visitors."

The event has taken place since 2013, with almost 3,000 people attending last year.

Sculptures 'falling apart'

Many callers to BBC Three Counties Radio on Monday said they had already demanded a refund of the £10.50 admission because it was not as described and they expected more from the "Woburn Abbey brand".

More on this and other stories from Bedfordshire

Image copyright Adam Fairclough
Image caption Lights illuminating a permanent structure within Woburn Abbey's gardens at Saturday night's event
Image copyright Adam Fairclough
Image caption Some callers to BBC Three Counties said they enjoyed the evening and would not be asking for a refund
Image copyright Adam Fairclough
Image caption A fire display looked like a "man in a wheelchair being set on fire", one caller said

Some claimed candles illuminating a "maze" were mostly extinguished and ice sculptures were already melting early in the evening.

Lesley Keys said: "The only spectacular lights were the miles of red lights lining every road around Woburn for hours.

"There were just a few trees lit by lights, it was so disappointing. It was a complete shambles."

'Thoroughly enjoyable evening'

Mr Morelli said he queued through the deer park for almost an hour and saw stewards pushing cars out of mud.

"We can't blame them for bad weather, but they are planning an outdoor event in autumn," he added.

"Once we were in, I saw a ball of flames, so we wandered across the quagmire of muddy fields to watch a man in a wooden cart, burning.

"It looked like a man in a wheelchair being set on fire."

Katherine Denham on Twitter said: "Seeing some fairy lights, a bonfire and a few melting ice sculptures ain't worth a tenner in my book."

But Janet from Kempston said it was good value and she had had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and Helen, from Dunstable, said: "I loved it, the ice sculptures were excellent.

"It wasn't built up to be a massive event."

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