Window Wanderland: Magical walking trail spreads across Bristol

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Window Wanderland is fun, simple, easy to join in with and is a great way to see your neighbourhood in a new light!

It started last February in North Bristol as a way to bring hope and joy to the darkest of winter months, and the idea has caught on as other areas across Bristol will be making their own Wanderlands this Winter.

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The idea is to encourage residents to create window displays to amuse, entertain and enthral neighbours for one weekend of fun. Together the windows form a wonderful illuminated walking trail, which in its inaugural year saw more than 2,500 people come out to enjoy and participate.

Displays can range from a simple string of fairy lights and stunning silhouettes to more intricate paper cuts and Lego scenes – least year’s windows drew inspiration from film and TV, politics, famous artworks and Bristol scenes and even involved pets and real people!

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Local Ted Fowler, Chair of the West of England Royal Society of Arts says:

“The RSA has long been interested in the glue that connects communities. I believe that Window Wanderland provides a great way for us to celebrate ourselves and reconnect to each other. Giving us a festive, playful atmosphere, and a sense of personal pride in our neighbourhood. We are really glad that Bristol is leading the way in making the streets brighter this winter.”

A free festival of creativity that allows you to peer into your neighbours’ windows and gawk at their gardens for as long as you like, Window Wanderland is a community art event that aims to get people out and about and socialising in their local area.

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The first event saw hundreds of homes in Bishopston adorned in light-up art displays for the enjoyment of their neighbours, who wandered the 55 participating streets in groups to see the impressive creations of their fellow locals.

Window Wanderland is the brainchild of Bristol resident Lucy Reeves, a designer and self-confessed nosy parker who spent too much time ‘stuck at home’. Following a career in the film industry she moved to Bristol with a baby then suffered a series of car accidents, changing her life completely and she spent many years at home, feeling pretty invisible.

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“The idea came out of a very dark time in my life, I noticed when out walking how much better I felt if people’s curtains were open, I thought, if this makes me feel better, imagine if the whole street did it! I am delighted that people like this idea – seeing the playfulness in the streets and imagination that we have in ordinary streets is fabulous.

“I am thrilled that Bristol has inspired other areas to host their own. My aim for this accessible event is to showcase the diversity of communities through their own Wanderlands. It’s easy to take part in, simple to do and really good fun for everyone involved.”

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The success of the first event has inspired other areas of Bristol to organise their own trails including the following this year:

6th Feb. Fishponds, Bristol

20-21st Feb. Bishopston, Bristol

27–29th Feb. Southville, Ashton and Bedminster, Bristol

27-28th Feb Chandos area in Redland, Bristol

28-29th Feb Windmill Hill and Victoria Park, Bristol

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The benefits to local communities in staging events such as Window Wanderland are far-reaching. 100% of respondents to a survey said they felt it benefitted the area. Local cafes reported increased takings of 160% and around 50% of those who attended were children, suggesting it was a popular family event at a time when ordinarily they would be indoors. It is hoped that the initiative can spread throughout Bristol and beyond over the coming months and years.

It’s also a great way to raise money, last year hundreds of pounds were raised for Children’s Hospice South West and it is hoped that 2016 will raise even more.

If you would like to create a display or organise your own Wanderland event visit www.windowwanderland.com.

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