We arrived at around 2pm and the world record attempt wasn't until 4pm so we spent a few hours wandering around the gardens and admiring everyone's outfits. My eldest was annoyed that we couldn't go through the maze which had been turned into a scare zone for the event and was chargeable at £3 each. I didn't know about this and only had enough change in my purse for parking and a coffee :-( From the sounds of the screams inside though I think we were better off not going in as it might have been a little too scary for Heidi and Jack.
I loved how the garden had been transformed with spooky touches around every corner.
It really was brilliant seeing so many witches walking around too.....
There was a main stage area where there were live bands and dancers playing who kept everyone entertained. We stopped to eat our special zombie brain lunch I'd packed whilst listening to the music.
At around 3:45pm we were summoned by the staff to start queuing. We must have been in the right place at the right time as we were one of the first in the official counting enclosure. The queue was HUGE.
On entering we were told that they had just been informed that everyone's capes had to be knee length or below - oooops! A LOT of the witches had shorter capes than this (us included). The staff at Alnwick Garden were absolutely amazing though and I'm pretty sure they must have wiped out the shelves of tesco for their bin bags. They had spare bin bags, hats and capes and made sure everyone was correctly dressed. To beat the record, we had to have just over 1600 witches in the counting zone together for 5 minutes.
Once you were in the enclosure you couldn't leave and this is where things started to go a little wrong for us. It took over an hour to fill the square with witches and you can imagine what it was like trying to entertain 3 children in a muddy field when we couldn't move anywhere. Broomsticks were snapped, mud was thrown, Harry ended up crying at one point and Jack had a total meltdown after around 40 minutes. Not good! Despite the mud I resorted to letting them sit on the floor for a while as they were getting tired.
If it had just been me or older children/teens I'm sure I would have coped a lot better than I did. Alnwick Garden looks wonderful lit up at night.
FINALLY after what seemed like forever, the official count could begin. Each steward was given a 'zone' of 50 people to count during a 5 minute count down. During this time you had to stand in your full outfit holding your broom and we were under strict instructions to keep our hats on. Unfortunately Heidi's hat blew from her head twice during the 5 minutes so I'm pretty sure she was disqualified :-( The rest of us managed ok though.
There was a large cheer as the 5 minutes were over and most pretty much headed straight home and didn't wait for the official result - I bet there were a lot of tired children on the journey home.
We arrived home to the lovely task of cleaning our muddy shoes and to the news on facebook that we hadn't broken the record and were short by just 27 witches :-(
The consensus on facebook is that some families had to leave the enclosure as they had to take children to the bathroom (it was a long wait and when you've got to go - you've got to go) and weren't allowed back in. I'm not sure how true this as I'm sure they could have joined the back of the queue? Either way, I'm sure this was a huge factor in the reason we failed. Perhaps if we had have known we were going to be standing for over an hour, it could have been organised where families with young children entered last or were given a pass out?
So although we didn't manage to break a record and my eldest proclaimed he wanted to kill himself (ever the dram Queen) I am still really pleased we tried. As I mentioned on facebook, it is good for your character to try something and fail and apart from the actual attempt we had a lovely afternoon together and it was all free. Thanks Alnwick Garden for attempting to organise something as crazy as this and hats off to your team who really were amazing on the day. The question is, are you going to try again next year? If you do I am not sure we will join in but I would love to come along and spectate.