Carnfunnock kids’ event was “a shambles,” say parents

Samantha and Lauren Buchanan all dressed for the Halloween Fun. INLT 44-207-AM
Samantha and Lauren Buchanan all dressed for the Halloween Fun. INLT 44-207-AM

Parents have dubbed a Carnfunncok Halloween event a “shambles” after claiming organisers were “overwhelmed” by the large crowd.

Several took to social media to voice their frustration at the free Enchanted Twilight Garden, which took place at the country park on October 31.

On its Facebook page, the event stated that it aimed to “guide visitors through a secret parting of the hedge into a magical other world that can only be seen at twilight”.

The event promised visitors a “journey of exploration into a realm of magic “ and “a special enchanted gift.”

A free shuttle bus service was provided from Larne and Ballygally.

However, many parents told how their children had been left disappointed after being forced to leave before entering due to long queues at the ticketless attraction.

Sarah Penn Campbell stated: “We arrived at 4.45pm to find the car park was full and we were advised to use the park and ride.

“We then queued with around 200 people until 6.15pm for a bus which only held 9 or 15 people.

“After only getting half way down the queue and speaking to someone getting off the bus telling us there was a very long queue once we would arrive at Carnfunnock we gave up and went home.

“Such a shame as we had three disappointed children. Halloween only comes once a year so that was it ruined for this year!”

Angela Campbell called the evening a “first class PR disaster.”

“There were no marshalls, no signage, no arrows, no guide ropes to show where the queue started and ended, no lights - appalling lack of organisation when they clearly did expect huge crowds,” she stated.

“Next time sell limited tickets in groups and have sufficient marshalls who actually know what is going on.”

Lisa McHendry dubbed the event a “shambles” while other visitors claimed they waited at length for buses which failed to arrive.

However, some visitors defended the event

“Our wee family thorougly enjoyed this event!” said Kathy Marshall.

“We travelled up a bit earlier to get parked as this was a free event so of course there was going to be alot of crowds.”

“We had a great time at this event once we finally got in,” added Lindsay Barr.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council issued an apology to those left disappointed.

A spokesperson stated: “The Enchanted Twilight Garden at Carnfunnock on Saturday 31 October was a very popular Halloween event.

“While some visitors experienced delays in accessing the Enchanted Twilight Garden, many have told us they enjoyed seeing Carnfunnock come alive at night.

“Council would like to acknowledge that, due to the number of visitors, some people felt our event did not meet the usual high standards for our public events.

“The Council would like to apologise to anyone whose experience was less than they would have hoped.

“The numbers of people attending the event, in comparison to previous years, exceeded the expectations of the organisers. The Council will now undertake a review so as to learn any necessary lessons for the future.”