Windsor Great Park Illuminated

The Best Winter Light Festivals in the UK

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Ignite your Christmas spirit

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It’s that time of year again: winter light festivals are returning to the UK. Here’s our pick of the most dazzling, featuring glowing cherry blossom walkways, glistening lakes and laser shows. 

Winter Light Festivals for 2021

London: Lightopia

Lightopia

See Crystal Palace bathed in light this winter at Lightopia, London’s largest Christmas light display. Set to be an all-encompassing experience, the trail features interactive lanterns, colourful lasers and water shows, with highlights including a butterfly installation and illuminated dinosaurs. Food and drink will also be available for guests to enjoy along the way. 19 November 2021 – 2 January 2022, london.lightopiafestival.com

Somerset: Light at Marston Park

Light at Marston Park

Ephemeral light works from British artist Bruce Munro have featured all over the world, from Australia to California. This November, they’ll be popping up in his hometown, Somerset, with a light exhibition opening at Marston Park. The large-scale display features thousands of coloured spheres on stems, which are ‘planted’ along the lakeside path and through the woodland. As darkness falls, the black mirror of the lake reflects the shifting colours amongst the foliage. For those who want to make a night of it, Marston Park’s collection of studios and suites are available to book – each complete with its own mini light installation: a firepit surrounded by illuminated stems, blooming with coloured light. 19 November 2021 – 15 April 2022, marstonpark.co.uk

Sussex: Glow Wild, RBG Kew

Glow Wild, RGB Kew

Jeff Eden, RGB Kew

As night falls on Wakehurst this winter, its wild woodlands and gardens will come alive with a glistening trail of hand-crafted lanterns, light installations and projections. The 2021 show explores the impact of the ‘anthropause’ phenomenon: how nature responds when human activity slows down. 25 November 2021 – 2 January 2022, kew.org

Windsor: Windsor Great Park Illuminated

Windsor Great Park Illuminated

Set in the picturesque surrounds of the Obelisk Pond, Windsor Great Park Illuminated takes visitors on a trail around one of the UK’s most famous parks. Pass through fountains of flowers, holograms of mythical creatures and dreamlike laser displays, before settling down for some mulled wine and toasted marshmallows. 18 November 2021 – 9 January 2022, windsorilluminated.com

London: Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens

Christmas at Kew

Jeff Eden

Now a firm favourite on 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 dancing waterside reflections, trees drenched in colour and tunnels 0f light – plus an appearance from Father Christmas himself. 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. 17 November 2021 – 9 January 2022, kew.org 

Buckinghamshire: Winter Light Trail, Waddeson Manor

Waddeson

Yes Events

This winter, Waddeson’s beautiful Buckinghamshire gardens will be illuminated with light as part of their Christmas festivities. Visitors are invited to stroll around the Pleasure Gardens under the stars and be dazzled by immersive light features: from colourful tree canopies to giant dandelions and a tunnel of light loops. As the sun goes down, meanwhile, the Manor’s façade will be illuminated with dancing lights to sequenced music. All this, plus handmade mince pies and festive drinks. What’s not to love? From 13 November 2021, waddeson.org.uk

Oxford: Illuminated Light Trail, Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a spectacular sight any day of the year, but it really comes to life come Christmas time. Their Illuminated Light Trail promises to be more magical than ever this year, with standout features including a fire garden and glittering tunnels of light – plus spiced winter warmer drinks from street vendors. blenheimpalace.com

Edinburgh: Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh Botanical Gardens

Christmas At The Botanics

Christmas at the Botanics is returning to Edinburgh Botanical Gardens with over a million twinkling lights. 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. 25 November 2021 – 2 January 2022, rbge.org

Cotswolds: 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. Along the way you may chance upon elves and talking trees – and at the end, you may catch a glimpse of a special guest. 26 November – 21 December 2021, forestryengland.uk 

Cheshire: Christmas at Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

Returning for its fifth year, Dunham Massey’s light trail is always a spectacular event. Enter beside giant glittering deer, wander beneath tree canopies drenched in colour, and stroll beside colour-changing lakeside reflections – then pause for a moment of quiet reflection in the crystal and fire garden, aglow with hundreds of flickering flames. Finish with a hot chocolate or mulled wine for ultimate festive feels. 19 November 2021 – 2 January 2022, nationaltrust.org.uk

Main image: Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Michael Clemens

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