49 lovely light trails across the Muddy counties
You glow, girl! At least, you will at one of these fabulously festive light trails to visit up and down the Muddy counties. Scarf on, boots strapped: let's admire some twinkling.
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.
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.
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!
Luminate, Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, 12 Nov – 19 Dec
A stunning Christmas light trail courtesy of Queen Liz (or, at least, one of her estates), Luminate is a wildly popular and bonkers beautiful tradition. The trail is a mile long and set to ambient music, and must be booked in advance.
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…
Light at Marston Park, Frome, Somerset, 21 Nov – 17 April
Bruce Munro’s immersive, light-based and world famous ‘Field of Light’ – currently illuminating Uluru in Australia and the Paso Robles wine country in California – comes to super cool Marston Park. Stroll around the lakeside and woodland installation from dusk, with seasonal food and drink. Next year you’ll be able to sleep amongst the spheres (watch this space!).
Shuttleworth in Lights, The Shuttleworth Estate, Beds, 25 Nov – 19 Dec
This one starts in Shuttleworth’s famous aircraft hangars, leading you through the pretty Swiss Garden before you’ll take in a special display, wander round the Shrubbery, past the Summer House and down to the Lakeside Parkland – where you’ll see some lovely reflections. Cameras at the ready!
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.
Glow 2021, RHS Wisley, Woking, Surrey
See the garden come alive at night with fantastical illuminations to light your way on Wisley’s enchanting festive trail. This year, the garden will glow even brighter with more lights, fire candles and fountain displays, as well as the return of a spectacular horticultural display inside the Glasshouse. It’s on from Fri 19 Nov until 4 Jan, and all tickets must be booked in advance.
The Enchanted Gardens of Light, American Museum, near Bath, Somerset, 9 – 31 Dec
The entire house, gardens and woodland will be bathed in colour, with sparkling reindeer and twinkling tunnels of light. Spiced apple drink, mulled wine and hot choc will help keep your illuminated pecker up.
Illuminate, Hestercombe House & Gardens, near Taunton, Somerset, 27 Nov – 2 Jan
Fifty acres and 300 years of garden design will be all lit up: a multi-coloured Rook Wood and Victorian shrubbery, a yew tunnel studded with thousands of lights and a dynamic pixel display in front of the House. Father Christmas will be in his grotto; hot choc and homemade sausage rolls in the café.
Christmas at Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne, Dorset, 3 Dec – 2 Jan
Giant illuminated baubles, tunnels of light, trees bedecked with lights, flickering flames in the fire garden and Father Christmas along the way – all accompanied by a festive Sony soundtrack – in the gardens of the Italianate mansion now owned by the National Trust. Hot chocs all round afterwards.
Christmas Tree Wonderland Trail, Lower Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset, 19 Nov – 2 Jan
Does what it says on the tin – and then some – with themed replica trees from around the world, including a 60ft walk-through Bournemouth Wonderland Tree, in the Lower Gardens and beyond. The free trail takes in a Christmas market, alpine bar and ice rink, too. Here’s a map.
Christmas at Bedgebury, Goudhurst, Kent, until 3 Jan
Visit Bedgebury Pinetum at night to experience Christmas at Bedgebury, a magical spectacle of light. We’re talking singing trees saturated in colour-changing lights, giant baubles and snowflakes – and of course you won’t wanna miss the breath-taking tunnel of light. There’ll also be a special appearance from the big man himself. This event sells out early every year but there are a handful of tickets left so be quick!
Christmas at Hever Castle, Kent, until 3 Jan
There’s plenty of Christmas magic at Hever Castle this year, with a fairground, Santa’s Grotto, and a visit from the huskies (weekends 12-8pm until 24 Dec). If you’re up for a longer stomp, try Hever’s after-dark Christmas Light Trail which takes approx 1.5 hours to see the Castle’s much-loved landmarks lit up in glorious colours. Starting from 4pm, wrap up warm, enjoy a walk under the stars and witness the enchantment of the Castle, gardens and lake festooned with fabulous colours and twinkling lights.
Leonardslee Illuminated, Horsham, Sussex, 25 Nov – 22 Dec
With a brand new route for 2021, the grounds of Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens will come to life with spellbinding illuminations, large scale projections, music, fairground rides and theatrical performances. The trail takes 60 – 90 minutes to compete (depending on how many times you stop to take a snap en route), with seasonal refreshments at both ends, plus a Christmas Market.
Light up Trails, Cowdray Estate, Midhurst, Sussex, 24 Nov – 1 Jan
The light display at this stunning historic country estate in the South Downs National Park is inspired by ‘Joy’ this year with works created by a select band of international artists peppered around the grounds. There’ll also be a festive show, the chance to watch a Tudor Christmas come to life on the ruins, street food to munch and a pop-up restaurant in the Walled Garden.
Glow Wild, Wakehurst, selected evenings, Sussex, 25 Nov – 2 Jan
Including the UK’s largest natural screen and the tallest living Christmas tree adorned with 1,800 lights. New for 2021, don’t miss Brighton-based light artists, Ithaca, who will transform the Walled Garden into a tranquil twilight trail illuminated by dazzling glow-worms.
An Enchanted Christmas, Westonbirt, Glos, 26 Nov – 21 Dec
The annual classy Christmas light trail from Westonbirt is a real treat. This year the mission is to reunite Father Christmas with his lost reindeer, and experience mesmerising light displays and stunning spectacles along the way, of course. The stunning arboretum will be shimmering with coloured lights and special effects, and head to the Christmas village for vintage fairground rides and lashings of hot chocolate.
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.
Winter Glow, Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcs, until Jan
Wrap up warm and prepare to be spellbound – Winter Glow is a dazzling outdoor illuminations trail, made from thousands of twinkling Christmas lights. Not only that there’s a huge covered ice rink, a giant 120ft observation wheel to ride on, personalised santa experiences and fabulous food quarter to explore.
Christmas Train of Lights, Queen’s Park Station, Paignton, Devon, 24 Nov – 30 Dec
All aboard! If walking through the lights isn’t adrenaline-fuelled enough for you, add a pinch of steam (quite a lot actually), Christmas tunes piped through the speakers, vintage carriages decorated with thousands of lights full of over-excited kids and you have a a fabulous illuminated train journey from Paignton to Kingswear. Muddy did it with the kids a few years back and this ride really delivers.
Christmas Illuminated Walk, Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth, Devon, 7 – 12 Dec
Something new for Sidmouth – an Illuminated Trail through the gardens high on the town’s clifftops within Connaught Gardens, where the kids can visit Santa in his grotto, enjoy Yuletide toons and a tot of mulled wine or hot choc. If you fancy some shopping, then head to the Christmas Food & Craft Village for 35 stalls selling gifts and treats. Tickets online, Adults £8, kids £5, under 2s free (the Christmas Food and Craft Village is free)
Christmas Illuminated Trail, National Trust Killerton House, Broadclyst, nr Exeter, 26 Nov – 2 Jan
Killerton’s gardens are always a treat but lit up it’s a real winter wonderland with sparkling tunnels of light, giant baubles and trees decorated in multi colour. We like the sounds of the indie street food vendors with their toasted marshmallow, hot choccie and tasty winter warmers too.
Christmas Zoo Nights, Dartmoor Zoo, Sparkwell, 10-11 Dec and 17-23 Dec
Do lions, tigers and meerkats know it’s Christmas? Sadly, we’ll never know but we do know you’ll love seeing their Zoo after dusk, decked for Crimbo on this enchanting light trail. From £8.25, kids under 2 FREE, family ticket £30 (evening only).
Glow 2021, Rosemoor Gardens, Great Torrington, Devon, 18 Nov – 30 Dec
Tall trees, windy paths and lakes make the perfect combination for illuminations and this year the RHS gardens are promising their longest ever trail with an extended route and striking new light features.
Christmas Wonderland Illuminations, Babbacombe Model Village, Torquay, Devon, 18-24 Dec and 27-31 Dec
Enjoy the teeny town and its teeny townsfolk sparkling for Crimbo, with new lighting and fire effects for 2021. Get there mid afternoon for the full transformation from day through dusk for a totally magic time.
Helmingham Hall, Stowmarket, Suffolk, 19 Nov – 19 Dec
The illuminated fun kicks off with a mulled wine in the courtyard, which is always a good idea, and then winds through the light-filled gardens before ending with s’mores around a fire pit and a chance to browse the Xmas stalls.
Wimpole, nr Cambridge 26 Nov – 2 Jan
It’s lights, camera, action when you visit Wimpole, as you won’t be able to stop Instagramming the festive gardens, including giant baubles, a fire garden, sparkling light tunnels and neon-lit trees, all set to a seasonal soundtrack. There are rumours Father Christmas might make an appearance and don’t miss hot choc and marshmallows at the end of the trail.
Rhizome, Cultural Quarter, Leicester, 18 Nov – 5 Jan
Not so much a light trail but rather a large-scale light installation. This year Leicester’s Cultural Quarter will be lit up by Rhizome. This impressive structure is made up of interconnecting colour-changing neon ropes and visitors will be able to wander through the glowing cocoon.
The Illuminated Garden at West Green House, near Hartley Wintney, Hook, Hants, 27 Nov – 30 Dec
Gigantic shimmering flowers, glowing fairies and a forest of illuminated red tulips – the famous Opera Garden at West Green House in North Hampshire undergoes it’s stunning annual winter transformation from late November. Look out for lit water lilies floating on lakes, bridges turned into tunnels of lights and classical follies twinkling in the darkness. Beautiful.
Enlightened at Staunton Farm, Havant, Hants, 3-2 Dec
Coming to Staunton Farm in Havant for the first time this winter, a magical illuminated light trail with light installations and enchanting moments along a specially crafted route. The specialist Insta-worthy installation is set to include huge twinkling tunnels, beams of light into the night sky, enchanted woodlands and err, talking trees!
Polar at Robin Hill Country Park, near Newport, Isle of Wight, 4-23 Dec
A stroll through Robin Hill Country Park’s beautiful illuminated Walk of Wonder ancient woodland, with its light and sound displays, is always a Christmas must. Afterwards, head to the Polar Hollow to meet the gorgeous polar bears, Pippa and Pop, climb aboard the Big Red Express for a twinkling tractor journey, or try your hand at some festive crafts in the Decoration Workshops.
Christmas at Stourhead, Stourton, Wilts, 26 Nov – 2 Jan
Stourhead’s gardens in Wiltshire are impressive at the best of times, but they’re sensational at Christmas, with over a million lights and lasers bouncing about. Think sparkling tunnels (we defy you to resist taking a selfie in there), flickering flames and larger than life illuminations. Call in at nearby Bruton (yes, we know it’s in Somerset) for the best pizza ever at The Chapel. From £14.
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.
Heligan Night Garden – An Enchanting Lantern Experience, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, 20 Nov – 2 Jan
Enjoy an enchanting lantern experience set amidst the atmospheric Lost Gardens – back again for 2021. This was truly beautiful last year – make sure that you book in advance to explore the gardens as they are beautifully lit by a variety of traditional paraffin lanterns and discover a breath-taking display of flora and fauna lanterns, illuminated within Heligan’s much-loved and iconic locations.
Tunnel of Lights: Arctic Adventure, Shipwreck Museum, Charlestown, Cornwall, until Jan
An immersive frozen adventure through the Shipwreck Treasure Museum’s underground tunnels as it’s transformed into a sparkling wonderland of ice. Follow the footsteps of Polar Explorers as you discover glittering waterfalls, giant icebergs, and frozen shipwrecks. Building on the success of the hugely popular Tunnel of Lights in 2020, the event returns with thousands of lights, atmospheric Arctic soundscapes and a magical journey through a polar world.
Light tunnel, Camel Creek Adventure Park, Wadebridge, Cornwall, 27 Nov – 23 Dec
Stretching for 100 glittering meters, the twinkling tunnel will be adorned with 2km of lights, and as the centrepiece of the Park’s Christmas activities, will cast a magical glow over the winter wonderland experience – Christmas spirit guaranteed! Say hello to Father Christmas, help Santa’s Elves in their workshop or get lost in a Christmas Tree Forest. Little ones can also enjoy a sweet Christmas treat in the Chocolate Factory while grown-ups enjoy warm mulled wine.
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.
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.
Glow, Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, Essex, 10 Nov – 1 Jan
Admire the impressive RHS gardens of Hyde Hall lit up in rainbow shades. The path wanders through neat gardens and tall woodland, past many seasonal sculptures along the way.
Enlightened, Hylands Estate, near Chelmsford, Essex, 26 Nov – 2 Jan
Enjoy the knockout illuminated light trail at Hylands Estate, bigger and better than ever. There will be dazzling lights winding around the gardens and hot refreshments aplenty — perfect seasonal evening fun. First entry 4.30pm.
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.
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.
Want more festive fun? Check out our round-up of the best ice rinks for 2021
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