16 lovely light trails in Bucks, Oxon, and beyond
You glow, girl! At least, you will at one of these fabulously festive light trails to visit within an hour and a half of home. Scarf on, boots strapped: let's admire some twinkling.
Winter Light Trail, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Bucks, 13 Nov – 23 Jan
Waddesdon Manor goes BIG with its light displays and this year’s no exception with a series of installations, light tunnels, a light show on the Rothschild manor’s facade each day at dusk and an exhibition from light artist Leo Villareal celebrating the completion of Illuminated River (the longest public art commission in the world) lighting nine central London bridges. Enjoy the magical lights, then get stuck into some festive food and shopping at the fair, or head to The Five Arrows restaurant for a seasonal menu.
Christmas at Blenheim, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, 19 Nov – 2 Jan
You can expect to enjoy over a million lights, lasers, and seasonal sounds at Blenheim this Christmas. Tunnels of light and dancing reflections, and on top of the splendour, a bustling Christmas market with winter street food and festive displays. You can also see the story of The Nutcracker re-imagined within the Palace’s rooms.
Christmas at Longleat, near Warminster, Wilts, 6 Nov – 3 Jan
This year Wiltshire’s famous safari park hosts the UK’s biggest singing Christmas tree, plus the iconic maze will be lit by magical lights to guide the way (like a modern-day wise man and the north star, don’t you think?). There’s also a festive train for little visitors, and a theatre show too.
Lap of Lights, Silverstone Circuit, Northants, 25 Nov – 3 Jan
The only light and laser drive in the UK, Silverstone Circuit‘s spectacular Lap of Lights event returns this year. 400,000 individual fire lights and 440 laser beams powerful enough to hit the moon – wowzer – as you cruise around the famous race track, spin out a few pirouettes on the illuminated Ice Trak, then warm up with hot dogs and gluhwein in the alpine style food hub afterwards.
Coombe Abbey, near Coventry, Warks, until 24 Dec
As if Coombe Abbey Park isn’t magical enough, see it all lit up on this mesmerising mile-long trail. There’s ambient music too so you can really get in the festive mood. Wrap up warm!
Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Windsor, Berks, 18 Nov – 9 Jan
Permission to mention the C Word… Christmas is coming and Windsor Great Park’s inaugural illuminated trail is the one to book now. The trail, produced by guys behind Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, will feature a field of lights that will extend more than 1,400 sqm, fountains of projected flowers and holograms of woodland creatures. Prepare to be dazzled. Open from 4.30pm-10pm. Tickets: Adults £21.45, Child, £13.20 and Family £74.80.
Enchanted Woodland Walk, Ashridge House, Herts, 26 Nov – 9 Jan
The gorgeous grounds of this former royal residence will be transformed into a super sparkly winter wonderland this festive season. Twinkling light installations and a magical musical score will lead visitors through the gardens, via glittering arches and uplit tree-lined avenues to a hidden Christmas scene in the woods. You had us at twinkling lights…
Winter Light Trail, Delapré Abbey, Northampton, 19 Nov – 2 Jan
Lose yourself in the breath-taking grounds of Northampton’s historic Delapré Abbey this winter, where the fairy tale walled garden and woodlands are lit up with colourful tunnels of light, sparkling trees and magical soundscapes. There’s a ski lodge bar serving hearty food and warming winter cocktails for that little bit of extra Christmas sparkle too. You can eve pre-book your own cosy mini wooden chalet for up to 8 people and Muddy paws are welcome.
Spectacle of Light, Sudeley Castle, Cheltenham, Glos, 26 Nov – 30 Dec
Explore this magical after-dark experience, now in its 6th year. Follow the illuminated trail around the beautiful castle grounds, all set to music, plus new for 2021, see the Light Curve and flickering Flames of the Queen’s Garden. Then go warm up with spiced mulled wine, hot chocolate, food and doughnuts from the Castle Terrace. Book by 25 November and get 10% off tickets.
Enchanted Light Trail, Cotswold Farm Park, Cheltenham, Glos, 26 Nov – 31 Dec
This quirky trail is one for the animal lovers – feed the livestock their evening snacks before they settle down for the night in the twinkling Festive Animal Barn! Then set out on the illuminated trail through the paddocks, stopping off for a warm by the firepit and a cheeky toasted marshmallow before exploring the transformed woodland where the trail reaches a glittering finale.
Swindon Town Gardens Enchanted Light Trail, Swindon, Wilts, 2-31 Dec
For the first time ever, Swindon’s already pretty Town Garden is being transformed into a winter wonderland with a trail of super-impressive displays lighting up the gardens. From £6.
Warwick Castle, Warks, 27 Nov – 3 Jan
Christmas at the Castle is returning with a stunning light trail. Expect to see the grounds and gardens dressed in thousands of twinkling lights with breath-taking projections on the castle walls. If you’re feeling brave enough there’s also an outdoor ice skating rink.
CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY
Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, Richmond, London
Returning for its ninth year, Kew Garden’s winter trail is back lighting up the night skies with sparkling tunnels of light, dancing waterside reflections and trees drenched in jewel-like colour as well as the panoramic Palm House light display. It’s on from Wed 17 to Sun 9 Jan, 4pm-10pm. Its timed entry and capacity is limited, so advance booking is essential.
Palace of Stardust, Hampton Court, London
Enter a whimsical world of planets and stars on an enchanting new light trail at Hampton Court Palace this winter. The trail winds through the palace’s formal gardens, where you’ll find a fantastical wonderland of clocks, moons, planets and sundials. It’s on from Wed 8 Dec until 3 Jan from 4pm-8pm.
Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, London, 26 Nov – 9 Jan
New this year, the sweeping grounds of this neoclassical stately home (which you may recall from the end of Notting Hill) are to be decked out with a magnificent, glowing path. It’s set to be a multi-sensory experience, and there’s even a VIP terrace bar for festive cocktails after.
Lightopia Festival, Crystal Palace Park, London
This year Lightopia moves to Crystal Palace Park in south-east London. The award-winning lantern and light festival is a visual spectacular with interactive exhibits, immersive light installations and a magical illuminated trail. It’s on from Fri 19 Nov until 2 Jan.