Found: The Enchanted Forest

Posted by Holly Whitfield | December 9th 2009 6681 0

I’m totally getting to relieve my childhood through this week’s scavenger hunt finds. Earlier this week, I went to the newly re-opened Starry Nights at Shelby Farms, and last night, I went to the Enchanted Forest at the Pink Palace Museum.

The Enchanted Forest, Memphis, Tenn.

The Enchanted Forest, Memphis, Tenn.

The Enchanted Forest has been a sign of Christmastime in Memphis for 65 years (as of 2018). Originally, it was at the Gayoso Hotel, and when that closed, it moved to Goldsmiths. At Goldsmiths, designer Barry Hartzog made the Enchanted Forest something really special – different costumes for the animatronic animals every year and new scenes so that the forest looked totally different every year.

Now, the Enchanted Forest is at the Pink Palace Museum, and all of the proceeds from it are donated to LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center.

There are two parts to the Enchanted Forest. The forest itself, and the Festival of Trees.

The Enchanted Forest is a winding path past retro animatronic animals frolicing in a cute, crafty winter wonderland. There are baking mice, skiing penguins, and all kinds of igloo-building, Santa-routing and present packing. The concept is very simple, but the execution is wonderful (and there are all sorts of surprises at eye-level for kids).

At the end of the trail through the forest, there are gingerbread houses made by Memphians, photos with Santa and a big model train set up.

But to enter and exit the Enchanted Forest, you’ve got to go through the Festival of Trees.

Festival of Trees, Memphis, Tenn.

Festival of Trees, Memphis, Tenn.

There are about 20 trees, all with unique themes designed by local organizations. There was a University of Memphis themed tree by the alumni association, a “Beat of Memphis” music-themed tree designed by the LeBonheur cardiology team, and a “What a Girl Wants” tree designed by high school cheerleaders. The Festival of Trees also has informative booths on the holiday celebrations of countries all over the world.

Last night was a special night in the Enchanted Forest – it was story time with Santa.

Storytime with Santa in the Enchanted Forest

Storytime with Santa in the Enchanted Forest

Pajama-clad kids gathered around to hear Christmas stories read by Santa. The kids were full of questions for Santa, most notably, “Where’s Rudolph?” (Santa’s answer – “At home, taking a nap”).

Go There:

Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees (benefiting LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center)

Through Dec. 31

Pink Palace Museum

3050 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111

More information.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Kalisa says:

    One of my fave photos of my son – taken at Enchanted Forest 14 years ago!

  2. Cristen says:

    Great story!!! Can’t wait to see it for myself.

  3. Melissa says:

    Downtown Memphis was pure MAGIC at Christmas time when I was a child.
    Going to Goldsmith’s and waiting in line to tour The Enchanted Forest, eating lunch in the Gayoso Room …chicken salad on toasted raisin bread…and sitting out front of the Chisca Hotel in velvet chairs with heavy plaid blankets to watch The Memphis Christmas Parade, seeing Mr Bingle (makes you jingle)at Lowenstein’s being on Looney Zoo for my Dec birthday…yep,Life was good.

  4. Carla Duke says:

    I remember going to the Enchanted Forest when I was small, 43 years ago. It was at Goldsmiths and I was wide eyed as we toured it. That whole year was magical. In September my sister had “Little Joe Cartwright” Kiss her hand (Which she did not wash for weeks!) Elvis came to Senatobia and bought a bunch of trucks for his farm and had lunch at the Sandman Motel Cafe where my mama worked in late October and I got to meet him! Then in early December Mama and Daddy took me to Goldsmiths to see the Enchanted Forest. Heady stuff for a 6 year old.

  5. I am the photographer at the santa booth at the Enchanted Forest. If you would like to come back and update this post. I can sent you passes. At the photo booth it is my wife and I taking every photo. We are one of the only santa photo booth with professional photographers behind the lens. If you let us know how you are I will email you your santa photos.
    I want to make the a record year for the Hospital!!!
    Le Bonheur is one of the best Children's Hospitals in the country and it is here in Memphis.
    NO CHILD IS EVERY TURNED AWAY! Help all the children of the Mid-South this Christmas season and see Santa.

  6. Janice Milam says:

    Please fact-check the beginning of the Enchanted Forest. I remember seeing this as a very young child and I’m 68 now. As I remember it, it began more in the range of 60-65 years ago. Please advise.

    • Holly Whitfield says:

      Hi Janice! This article was written in 9 years ago, so I’ve updated the beginning of the article to reflect the new age range. I’m working to update article on the site, but it’s an extensive process. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment.

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