Home Lifestyle Tourism Britain's best light shows, from Blackpool's illuminations to Kew Gardens (and they're...

Britain’s best light shows, from Blackpool’s illuminations to Kew Gardens (and they’re Covid-secure)


With summer’s long, warm evenings now a faded memory, there’s no better way to boost the spirits than taking in a magical light festival.

These outdoor trails, which bring to life some of the country’s most beautiful forests, historic buildings and landscaped gardens, are popular with all ages and also pass the Covid-secure test. 

Venues have brought in extra measures to manage visitors, including reducing the number of tickets sold for each time slot. And with many selling out fast, it makes sense to book now. 

Dazzling displays: A light show transforms Kew’s Palm House. The spectacle runs from November 18 to January 3

Now in its eighth year, the light trail at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has a new route winding through the Rose Garden. 

You can look forward to an even bigger waterfall of light at the Treetop Walkway, the iconic Temperate House lit from within by a laser light show, a tunnel adorned with starry lanterns and, the grand finale, the Palm House emblazoned with projections from across the water in time to a festive soundtrack.

The fun runs from November 18 to January 3 and costs from £19.50 per adult and from £12 per child (kew.org).

In Oxfordshire, more than one million lights make up the illuminated trail at Blenheim Palace, not to mention a magical woodland of lit-up trees and 20 separate installations.       

Highlights include the Water Terrace and Fire Garden, where visitors can take in a magical mix of elements in the reflections of large, flame-filled sculptures and fire torches.   

For the first time, the palace facade will be lit up for the finale. Tickets are available from November 20 to January 3 and cost from £19.50 per adult and £13 per child (blenheimpalace.com).

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In Oxfordshire, more than one million lights make up the illuminated trail at Blenheim Palace. Above, gingerbread men guard the palace’s boathouse

The National Pinetum in Bedgebury, Kent, has a beautiful, milelong illuminated trail which shows off its majestic trees to full effect.

The trail also features a light maze, a woodland of neon strings, singing trees and an electric forest with constantly changing beams of colour – not to mention the fire garden and the ever-popular tunnel of light.

Anyone for a selfie? It runs from November 20 to December 31 and costs from £19.50 per adult and from £13 per child (christmasatbedgebury.co.uk).

Surround yourself with sparkle at Stourhead, the National Trust’s Palladian house and its renowned gardens. The mile-long light trail includes a field of glowing giant crocuses and lilies. 

Look out for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer between glittering trees wrapped in ribbons of colour, stroll along Heart Walk and take in the dazzling reflections on the lake. The event runs from November 27 to January 3 and costs from £19 per adult, £13 per child (nationaltrust.org.uk).

The magical trail at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, sets off the beautiful landscaped backdrop and historical buildings to full effect – a mile of choreographed beams of light dance across the facade of Inverleith House and the modernist Front Range Glasshouses.

Take in bouncing lines of light in the laser garden and giant luminescent sculptures from November 26 to January 3 – tickets cost £19 per adult and £13 per child(rbge.org.uk).

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Shining flowers in a pond at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, which will host a light show this year titled Glow

You’ll see the iconic sights at RHS Garden Wisley in a new light at this year’s Glow event. The Glasshouse, in the 240-acre site in Surrey, has a striking light show, featuring a Christmas tree adorned with twinkling lights and wonderful towers of poinsettia.

Carry on through the Wisteria Walk, Seven Acres, the Rock Garden and Pinetum to marvel at the magnificent trees and shrubs bathed in a spectacular spectrum of colour. 

Don’t miss further RHS Glow trails at its gardens in Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire; Rosemoor in Great Torrington, Devon; and Hyde Hall near Chelmsford in Essex. Check each garden’s website for details, as dates vary. 

Tickets cost from £15 per adult and from £10 per child (rhs.org.uk).

Immersive installations to be enjoyed at the National Trust’s Georgian gem Dunham Massey, in Altrincham, Cheshire, include a dancing light show across the lake. The beautiful gardens are given a magically festive atmosphere with a snowflake light show.

Other highlights include giant glittering deer, a crystal and fire garden, and a tunnel of light, all set to a suitably festive soundtrack between November 20 and December 30. 

Tickets cost from £20 per adult and from £13 per child (nationaltrust.org.uk). The wonderful woodland gardens and lakes at Leonardslee, near Horsham, West Sussex, reopened last year after being closed for a decade. 

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The Blackpool Illuminations have been running since 1879 and feature six miles of lights, installations and tableaux, making them the biggest free light show in the world

Now visitors can enjoy its winter light trail through the gardens, featuring projections on to the historic mansion buildings, a magical Christmas moon floating above the lake, illuminated woodland creatures and a fire dragon.

The event also features live music and theatrical performances for all the family. The site is open on selected dates in December and tickets cost £16 per adult and £8 per child (leonardsleegardens.co.uk).

There’s a chance to spot Santa at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire, where mesmerising light displays transform the National Arboretum into his workshop.

Meet the elves who help make the toys, come across talking trees and make your way through the Candy Cane Forest on your quest to the West Pole. It is open on selected evenings between November 28 and December 21 – tickets cost £16 per adult and £8 per child (forestryengland.uk).

The light trail at the National Trust’s Belton House, a country estate near Grantham in Lincolnshire, includes giant luminescent candles rising above the enchanting gardens and a waterside fire garden. 

There’s also a meadow of lights that shimmer as they sway, giant baubles, glowing flowers, a laser garden and a tunnel of light.

Visit between November 27 and January 3 – tickets cost from £19 per adult and from £13.50 per child (nationaltrust.org.uk). And don’t forget the original… and of course it’s free! 

The Blackpool Illuminations have been running since 1879 and feature six miles of lights, installations and tableaux, making them the biggest free light show in the world.

View the display from your car by driving along the promenade or take a ride on a heritage tram. For the first time in their history, the Illuminations (which were switched on in September) have been extended until January 3 to give the nation a much-needed dose of festive cheer (visitblackpool.com/illuminations). 



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