Summer safari nights
Every Saturday evening in August you can take an evening trip through a walk of wallabies and lane of lemurs. Visiting the Summer Safari Nights event at Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster was a real treat for me and my sisters last night.
The park stays open late on a Saturday in the summer to allow you to enjoy the animals later, and then complete your evening with a (bang-free) 9pm fireworks display before you depart. On offer is a pedestrian safari which means you get to walk through an area of smaller breed animals which are free-roaming. This results in a far more up-close and interactive experience than a regular zoo or your typical in-car safari. We managed to see lemurs, mini mokeys and wallabies up-close, as well as lions and polar bears from a safer distance.
The park is well landscaped and well kept, with plenty of on-site food and drink outlets, with space for eating your own pic nics too. They even had some fun in-restaurant entertainment with both a magician and juggling act entertaining little diners. If you are planning on eating from their main cafe area however, be prepared for a long wait. There were few people in the queue in front of us, and it still took an age to be served. I’m not sure of the reason why as the food mainly consists of pre-packed sandwiches and cakes so ought really to happen quickly. There is hot food available in the form of jacket potatoes but we had to repeat three times that we wanted cheese as the topping, so maybe best avoided unless to wish to add to your wait.
The park opens for the evening session at 3pm, and closes with a 9pm firework display and stage performance from what seems to be mostly tribute acts. We were hugely disappointed however on the day when the zoo keepers herded us out of the venue at 8pm, telling us the animal area of the park was closed. This meant we missed many of the animals we had hoped to see in our final hour, and also gave us a full hour to fill before the much anticipated fireworks. (And to top it off the act was Jake Quickenden who made my ears bleed just a tiny bit).
Highlight of the evening was the two young zoo keepers at the end desperately trying to herd all of the Meercats down an entrance to their pen. Hilarious – worth attending just for that moment.
A recommended evening to spend with family and little ones (for the animals, not the food), but bear in mind you need to be out for 8pm, so you might wish to start your safari time earlier than we did at 5pm. You might also want to take drinks and snacks for filling your hour preceeding the firework display, but the cafes are still open at that time with hot drinks costing around £2.50 each.
Regular tickets cost around £10.00 for adults, and £8.00 for children, available for purchase from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park website.