Fab festive light trails
Trip the light fantastic! Brighten up winter nights with these 15 fabulously festive light trails around Hampshire, Isle of Wight and a bit beyond.
The Illuminated Garden at West Green House, near Hartley Wintney, Hook, Sat 27 Nov – Tues 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 its 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.
Steam Illuminations at The Watercress Line, Alton and Arlesford, Fri 26 – Sun 28 November
Steam Illuminations at the Watercress Line is back! A world first, the neon moving light show stole the headlines last year. Tripping the light fantastic, 13,174 colour-mixing LED lights and LED wristbands create colours and flashing patterns as the train travels up and down the 10-mile line. Unmissable – quite literally.
Enlightened at Staunton Farm, Havant, Fri 3 Dec – Sun 2 Dec
Coming to Staunton Farm in Havant for the first time this winter, a magical illuminated light trail. The specialist Insta-worthy installation will include huge twinkling tunnels, beams of light into the night sky, enchanted woodlands and err, talking trees!
Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Windsor, until Sun 9 Jan
Produced by guys behind Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, Windsor Great Park’s inaugural illuminated trail will feature a field of lights that extend more than 1,400 sqm. Look out for fountains of projected flowers and holograms of woodland creatures. Prepare to be dazzled.
Leonardslee Illuminated, Horsham, Thurs 25 Nov – Wed 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 (depending on how many times you stop to take a snap en route). There’s seasonal refreshments at both ends, plus a Christmas Market.
Light up Trails, Cowdray Estate, Midhurst, Wed 24 Nov – Sat 1 Jan
The light display at this stunning historic country estate in the South Downs National Park is inspired by ‘Joy’ this year. Works have been created by a select band of international artists and peppered around the grounds. There’ll also be a festive show, a Tudor Christmas brought to life on the ruins, street food to munch and a pop-up restaurant in the Walled Garden.
Glow 2021, RHS Wisley, Woking, Fri 19 Nov – Tues 4 Jan
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.
Palace of Stardust, Hampton Court Palace, Wed 8 Dec – Mon 3 Jan
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.
Christmas at Longleat, near Warminster, until Mon 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.
Christmas at Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne, Dorset, Fri 3 Dec – Sun 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, until Sun 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.
ISLE OF WIGHT
Polar at Robin Hill Country Park, near Newport, various dates from Sat 4 Dec – Thurs 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.
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: LONDON LIGHT TRAILS
Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, Richmond, Wed 17 – Sun 9 Jan
Returning for its ninth year, Kew Garden’s winter trail is back. Sparkling tunnels of light, dancing waterside reflections and trees drenched in jewel-like colour as well as the panoramic Palm House light display will light up the night skies. Timed entry and capacity is limited so book ahead.
Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, Fri 26 Nov – Sun 9 Jan
New this year, the sweeping grounds of this neoclassical stately home (which you may recall from the end of Notting Hill) will be decked out with a magnificent, glowing path. A multi-sensory experience, there’s even a VIP terrace bar for festive cocktails after.
Lightopia Festival, Crystal Palace Park, Fri 19 Nov – Sun 2 Jan
This year, Lightopia moves to Crystal Palace Park in south-east London. The award-winning lantern and light festival is a visual spectacular. Expect interactive exhibits, immersive light installations and a magical illuminated trail.