Christmas at Kew

The Best Winter Light Festivals in the UK

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Ignite your Christmas spirit

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A glimmer of hope at the end of the dark tunnel that is 2020: 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 2020

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 a tunnel adorned with a canopy of starry lanterns, a singing rose garden, a glowing pink cherry blossom walkway, and a returning favourite: the Cathedral of Light, which twinkles with thousands of fairy lights. 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. 18 November 2020 – 3 January 2021, 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 flickering flames to colourful tree canopies and a cascading river of light. Also returning this year are the giant fairy light baubles at the Stables Courtyard, plus a light installation of colourful moving pipes in the Coach House. 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? 14 November 2020 – 3 January 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 new installations including Heart of the Stars, which scatters shards of light across the lawn to a scented fire garden. Elsewhere: colour-changing neon tunnels, lakeside reflections, and a fairy fire known as Will-o-the-Wisps. 20 November – 3 January 2021, 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. 26 November 2020 – 3 January 2021, rbge.org

Wiltshire: Land of Light, Longleat

Set against the beautiful backdrop of Longleat House, Land of Light will see a myriad of light installations emerging across the grounds. The cool waters of Half Mile Lake will be brought to life in a dancing display of colour, as projections and lasers beam across jutting fountains. Feel the heat as you navigate through the Summer Storm, before being struck by the cold of the ice-inspired Love Labyrinth: a shimmering winter maze embellished with mirrors and icy LEDs. Finally, venture into The Laser Show at The Longhouse for an immersive experience, which involves visitors being blanketed in cascading light and colourful beams. 7 November 2020 – 10 January 2021, longleat.co.uk

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. 28 November – 21 December, forestryengland.uk 

Cheshire: Christmas at Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

Returning for its fourth 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. 20 November – 30 December 2020, nationaltrust.org.uk

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