The National:

A “WILLY Wonka” experience gone wrong at a venue in Whiteinch has picked up coverage all across the globe.

Even the New York Times are reporting on how House of Illuminati’s event where dreams were billed as becoming a reality fell well short of expectations. 

It all went wrong though as parents described children crying with disappointment and an “empty warehouse” with the boss behind the idea issuing a public apology as well as refunds to those who attended.

READ MORE: Inside the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre as festival gets underway

So with everyone talking about the “Wonka” experience, we’ve rounded up some of the wildest stories we’ve covered here at The National.

‘Winter wonderland’

Back in December 2022, an East Lothian “winter wonderland” was described as an “absolute shambles”.

The Enchanted Balgone – a Christmas-themed event run by Enchanted Festivals – was hosted at Balgone Estate and supposed to offer funfair rides, Christmas activities and local food and drink.

However, many took to social media to share unfavourable reviews and images of a rather frightening looking Santa on display who didn’t appear to have any hands and was wearing a piece of electrical tape for a belt.

The National:

The National: The sant train ride at Enchanted Balgone with palm trees

“We purchased tickets for the rides, yet no one told us they weren’t open,” one person said while another said there was “nothing enchanting about it at all”.

The National: The entrance to Christmas activities at Enchanted Balgone

Enchanted Festivals did eventually announce the event was cancelled following “disappointing feedback”.

Band called out at festival

What should have been a fun weekend at a Dundee festival turned into something of a bizarre story.

English rockers Royal Blood were not happy with the reaction they got from the crowd at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Festival.

A video of the band went viral on Twitter showing lead singer and bassist Mike Kerr moaning about the crowd.

At one point the singer said “no-one actually knows who we are” before adding: “Who likes rock music? Nine people… brilliant.”

He later added the crowd the band were “having to clap ourselves because that was so pathetic”.

 Twitter users accused Kerr of looking “spoilt” while others were somewhat harsher, describing the set as “absolute pish”.


It seems Christmas is not the time of year everybody thinks it is. Going back to 2019, the organisers behind a major festival held at Kelvingrove Art Gallery -Elfingrove - in Glasgow attracted plenty criticism.

Billed as a “spell-binding” night-time tour of the museum, the event was met with reviews from punters who were left less than impressed.

READ MORE: Countdown star Susie Dent shares 'the best' Scots word

“The most Christmassy part was a woman dressed as a Brussels sprout,” one woman told The Sun while another joked that the Christmas-theme came from sticking a Santa hat on the reindeer in the wildlife section.

Emails later revealed by the Glasgow Times showed that the festival had been hit with several restrictions before it opened and that organisers had to deal with “multiple challenges” before opening.

The National:

They were told they could not use Pyro, gas or chemicals and were asked to drop a feature called the “kissing sculpture,” whatever that could possibly be.

The festival did continue however, although the 2023 edition was cancelled as a result of “skyrocketing prices”.

The Wonka experience

And of course we couldn’t leave out the “Wonka” experience.

Despite being sold a day of “pure imagination and wonder” for £35 a ticket, one parent described the day as an “absolute joke”.

The National: The event was cancelled half-way through the first day but parents were not notified

“I was expecting separate rooms, not a small maze in the middle of a room and a tiny bounce house for four-year-olds,” said another.

The National:

Somebody else reported their eight-year-old was left in tears and the event was eventually cancelled with the sign (above) making that as clear as possible.

Organisers House of Illuminati have since apologised with the owner confirming refunds would be issued.