The Fairy Tale Forest

Enter a magical woodland, turn a corner and peep through the trees to discover Mary Godmother and her gingerbread emporium.

We celebrated the 2022 festive season at Thorngrove in Gillingham Dorset working with the community to transform an undercover area of the Garden Centre into a beautiful wintery forest.

Learn the secrets of this snowy land as you venture through the pine trees on a sensory journey filled with fairy tale magic. Meet Mary Godmother and hear the news of your favourite fairy tale characters in her stories, songs, and gossip. Explore Mary’s gingerbread shop, the Ever-After Emporium, then help her on some special missions whilst exploring this magical immersive world.

The Fairy Tale Forest is a live interactive experience suitable for all ages including babies, children, and adults who love Christmas.

The Fairy Tale Forest experience lasts between 5 and 15 minutes.  Follow-up your visit with a delicious hot chocolate and festive treats in The Secret Garden Cafe. Special handmade gingerbread people and merchandise will also be available. 

Angel Exit have worked with students & service users from Employ My Ability as well as members of the Gillingham Community to create this unique incarnation of The Fairy Tale Forest. The production was free for visitors. 

The Fairy Tale Forest is available for Winter 2023. Please email if you are interested in discussing how the experience would work at your venue.

‘The visit was enchanting and a full sensory experience. The fragrance from the trees when we first entered was amazing, and the gingerbread! Mary Godmother was absolutely fabulous.’

In 2021 we were commissioned by The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre in Havant to create an immersive installation for their festive audiences. We completely transformed their theatre into a real pine tree forest with a gingerbread house at the Centre. As audiences walked through the trees, taking in the sights of hidden woodland creatures, toadstools, gingerbread bird boxes, enchanted gnome people, sounds of fairy tale characters whispering in the trees, smells of gingerbread, pine trees, and the feel of the forest, they came upon a clearing and met Mary Godmother – caretaker of the Fancy Fairytale Emporium (Coffee!) and her magical store. Visitors helped with her stock take, or packing some parcels, decorated her giant Christmas tree, sniffed the citrus and spices, read her Christmas cards from fairy tale folk, listened to the gossip, had their photo taken, sang with her or just walked by and watched. The whole experience was free to attend, meaning that whole family groups came together, and it was accessible for all. 

Over 2000 people came through the doors in five days. It was a unique, magical, hectic, genre-defying experience which we are delighted to be recreating this December in Gillingham Dorset.

‘It was the most magical, amazing, Christmassy experience. So much fun. We could have stayed all day.’
‘So much time and effort was put into this wonderful event. Every detail was appreciated and I take my hat off to everyone that made it possible. It looked absolutely stunning. Brilliant entertainment and magical memories my boys and I will always have. ’

Creative team:

Mary Godmother: Lynne Forbes
Directed by Lynne Forbes and Tamsin Fessey
Set design: Tish Mantripp
Costume design: Sophie Fretwell
Costume maker: Victoria Adams
Musical director, composer and sound designer: Tom Ball
Lighting design: Joe Myles
Stage management, set building and project manager: Matt Llewelyn Smith

In 2021 The Fairy Tale Forest was commissioned by The Spring and supported by Welcome Back Funding (part of the European Regional Development Fund), Arts Council England, Havant Borough and Hampshire County Council. In 2022 The Fairy Tale Forest was created with Thorngrove Garden Centre and Employ My Ability with funding from Dorset Community Foundation and Dorset County Council.