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The Best Winter Light Festivals in the UK

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The Best Winter Light Festivals in the UK

Ignite your Christmas spirit

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From laser gardens to enchanted forests, glowing displays are lighting up the UK this dark winter season. Here’s our pick of the most dazzling…

Christmas at Kew, London

Kew Gardens Christmas

Now a firm favourite in the Christmas calendar, Kew Gardens’ winter light festival is back and brighter than ever. The trail begins, as is tradition, with a glittering archway: the gateway to your festive voyage. Highlights of the trail include a forest of glowing, colour-changing tendrils, a cascading waterfall of light from the Treetop Walkway and the Cathedral of Light, the biggest tunnel of lights ever seen at Kew. Visitors can expect a mesmerising Palm House Pond finale, where Kew’s famous glasshouse will spring to life with criss-crossing laser beams, jumping jets of light and kaleidoscopic projections playing across a giant water screen. Until 5 January 2012. Visit kew.org 

Enchanted Season at English Heritage

Enchanted Light Festival

©English Heritage

Find hidden fairies, meet talking trees and get hands-on with interactive lighting at one of English Heritage’s illuminated garden trails this winter. Events run across the historic palaces, including Audley End House and Gardens, Belsay Hall, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens; Eltham Palace and Gardens and Witley Court and Gardens. englishheritage.org.uk 

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The Festival of Light, Longleat

 

Set against the beautiful backdrop of Longleat House, explore 30 acres of giant Chinese Lanterns at Longleat’s Festival of Light. This year’s theme, Myths & Legends, invites spectators on an epic journey, bringing to glowing life ferocious mythical beasts, heroes and gods from Ancient Greek legend and enchanting scenes from British folklore.  Selected dates from 9th November – 5th January 2019. Visit longleat.co.uk

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Christmas At The Botanics

With over a million twinkling lights, Christmas at the Botanics is returning to Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Guests are invited to weave through the one-mile trail of light installations, wandering beneath tree canopies and past iconic glasshouses. Incandescent flowers rise high into the night sky, leading you onto a path towards illuminated tree sculptures. A highlight is the festival finale, which illuminates the facade of Inverleith House in time to Christmas classics. Watch out for hidden surprises too: shards of light, marching reindeer and frosty snowflakes pop up where you least expect them… 22 November – 29 December 2019. Visit rbge.org

Canary Wharf Winter Lights, London

Canary Wharf Winter Lights

Free to the public and a firm fixture on the London arts scene, Canary Wharf’s annual Winter Lights festival is back for its fifth year running. This year’s line up features work from UK artists Squidsoup with their large immersive piece ‘Submergence’, which uses 24,000 individual points of suspended light, transforming the space into an abstract, hybrid environment lasting 12 minutes. Also on display is an interactive light and water installation featuring a mist cloud which can be controlled by the audience through dancing and singing. 15-26 January 2019. Visit canarywharf.com

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Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum

Discover a magical world of light spectacles and interactive displays among the trees at The National Arboretum, which is home to 15,000 tree specimens. Once you reach the end of the trial, head to the Christmas village, complete with crafts, Christmas choirs and fairground rides. 29 November – 22 December. Visit forestryengland.uk 

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Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace

©Blenheim Palace

Wander through the grand gardens of Blenheim Palace this winter season for a show-stopping display of lasers, projections and thousands of twinkling pea-lights. Highlights this year include the magnificent Tunnel of Light, aglow with over 100,000 pea lights, as well as the woodland Laser Garden, scented Fire Garden. It doesn’t get much more festive than the rousing finale, which illuminates the historic façade to the tune of many a classic Christmas song. You might even catch a glimpse of Father Christmas and his elves somewhere along the way! 23 November – 1st January 2020. Visit blenheimpalace.com 

Lightwaves, Salford Quays, Manchester

Lightwaves

For 10 days in December, Salford Quays and MediaCity UK will be illuminated with 16 inspiring digital light artworks by local international artists – all for free. A highlight are the world-famous Wave-Field: glowing musical see-saws by Mitchell Akiyama. Friday 6 December until Sunday 15 December 2019. Visit quays culture.com

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