LONGLEAT Safari Park came to life on Friday evening at the magical Festival of Light grand switch on.

A total of 3,000 Chinese lanterns transformed the park into a winter wonderland and took the most mature back to their childhood with the theme of fairy tales.

An impressive glider display with fireworks and music lit up the skies above the house before the countdown to the big switch on began.

Viscount Weymouth Ceawlin Thynn said: “We were the first festival of this kind, and we are still the biggest.

“This theme is a very special one and we would like to thank everyone for coming.

“Over 50,000 man hours have been put into this spectacular display and we are so pleased to be able to share it with you.”

The lanterns recreating famous scenes from loved fairy tales such as Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and many more have been made by a team of artists from Zigongin China’s Sichuan province, which has been staging lantern festivals for more than 2,000 years.

Steve Mytton, PR manager at Longleat said: “This year’s festival of light is bigger and better than ever.

“We were delighted to be able to share the switch on event with our annual pass holders as well as out invited guests, as they love the park as much as we do.”

The largest illuminated lantern, Sleeping Beauty’s tower, stands 25.5 metres tall and is the biggest lantern ever constructed for the event.

A total of 70,000 tonnes of steel and 30,000 metres of silk have been used to create the lanterns, enough to wrap around Longleat House 124 times.

Other impressive displays feature a life-sized 30 metre long floating galleon on the lake.

The festival of light is now open to the public until January 3, and other Christmas attractions including the giant musical Christmas tree and the santa train will also be open.

Visitors can also experience a winter safari and the illuminated hedge maze, and the house will also be decorated.

To buy tickets, please visit www.longleat.co.uk