An exciting new fairytale art trail created by people with learning disabilities has opened at Furzey Gardens in the New Forest

Local artists have designed 15 four-foot fairytale boards to create a unique new trail to enchant visitors of all ages to the woodland gardens until September 1.

The boards themselves were made by people with a learning disability in one of Minstead Trust’s workshops and then decorated by artists. Minstead Trust runs Furzey Gardens in Minstead and supports over 300 people along the south coast to live more independent lives.

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Alongside the fairytale boards, 13 giant letters adorn the top lawn, spelling out ‘Once upon a time’.

Adults and children can pose with their favourite letter, each one created by a talented local artist, excited to tell the story of well-known fairytale characters.

Artists submitted their designs back in December, with the learning disability judging panel choosing the winning designs.

Two of the boards have been decorated by people supported by Minstead Trust, helping them to be involved in every step of creating the trail. The submissions also included many fantastic designs from schools and a 12-year-old autistic artist.

The enchanting fairytale boards tell stories such as Cinderella, The Princess and the Pea and The Emperor's New Clothes, many with three dimensional elements to interact with.

Participating artist Cheryl Kirsten said: "Working on my story board was the absolute highlight of my year so far. It was challenging and nerve-wracking when things went horribly wrong and I lost count of the times I had to google how to do this or that. However there wasn’t anything else I’d rather be doing during those long rainy weeks."

Visitors can bid for the doors throughout the summer, with the auction concluding at the end of September.

Money raised will go towards supporting people with learning disabilities who work in the gardens and beyond.

The fairytale trail follows on from the success of the ‘Artists’ Fairy Doors’ in the gardens in 2023, where 25 giant fairy doors were hidden around the garden.

To book tickets, visit