Lights shine as Dean Castle Country Park reopens to public

Dean Castle Country Park was glowing in the dark as the attraction officially reopened to the public on Thursday, October 26.

Invited guests, including members from the local community, gathered in the newly redeveloped Visitor Centre to celebrate the completion of the redevelopment of Dean Castle Country Park and its amenities. The £4.7m project attracted £3.34m in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £600k from the East Ayrshire Renewable Energy Fund.

John Griffiths, Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Leisure, welcomed visitors to the new facility and Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

Councillor Reid said: “This project could not have been delivered without East Ayrshire Leisure and East Ayrshire Council working together to build a wonderful park for the people of Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire and beyond. 

“Our vision is to create a 5 star visitor attraction in East Ayrshire and the team must be commended for their outstanding efforts in helping to bring this Parks for People project to fruition.

“The local community has also played a key role in this development and I’d like to thank those who visit the park day in and day out, supporting the Country Park and sticking with us, patiently, throughout this project.  We hope that you will continue to be visitors for many more years to come and enjoy the new facilities that we have to offer.”

John Griffiths commended the contractors, Luddons, who worked tirelessly over the past few months to complete the works. He said: “Our contractors, Luddons, have demonstrated great sensitivity throughout,  taking account of the environment they are working in, supporting the Country Park staff and helping us to keep as much of the park open as  possible throughout the piece.”

The Dean Castle Country Park redevelopment works include a new visitor centre housing the café and shop, residential centre, redesigned play park, extended path networks, landscape redevelopment and rural life centre.

Councillor Elena Whitham, Chair of East Ayrshire Leisure, closed the event by inviting guests to enjoy the Illuminight experience.  

She said: “Illuminight is a fantastic way to celebrate the reopening of Dean Castle Country Park and a real boost for the country park and the town to play host to such an event.  We are so lucky to have this on our doorstep and are honoured that Unique Events and Black Light productions have chosen to work with us after having worked on other prestigious displays including Edinburgh Hogmanay and the new Queensferry Crossing.

“I hope all our guests this evening will share their experience of this amazing spectacle and spread the word about the event, helping put Kilmarnock firmly on the tourism map.”

ILLUMINIGHT is a magical experience for all the family with stunning visuals, state of the art lighting installations and music along a trail showing the Country Park in a whole new light.

Visitors can enjoy fantastic light shows and illuminated stories as they walk along the 1.5km trail through the historic woodlands, discovering guiding planets, a time travelling tunnel and hidden patterns and shapes amongst the trees. They can create their very own unique light show alongside the illuminated Kilmarnock Water and lure imaginary creatures out to play in the sensory fairy woodland. 

Showpiece fire and light spectaculars can be found at the Old Quarry Pond and in the grand finale in the Courtyard of Dean Castle itself. 

The event runs until Sunday, November 19, every night except Mondays, and some allocated time slots are already sold out. Tickets are on sale from www.illuminight.co.uk or by telephone on 0844 573 8455.*   Full price tickets are £12 (including all fees), children’s tickets are £6 (including all fees). Family and group tickets are also available. 

ILLUMINIGHT is produced by Unique Events and designed in collaboration with production specialists Black Light.