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RHS Garden Wisley
Photograph: RHS

8 of the most dazzling Christmas light trails in the UK

Get in the festive mood with a trip to one of these spectacular Christmas light displays in the UK

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson
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What would winter be without Christmas lights? From the smallest sparkles glinting in windows to gigantic tunnels of rainbow illuminations, lights of all shapes and sizes seem to have a magical power that can put a smile on even the Scroogiest of Scrooges. 

If you’ve never been to one of the many spectacular Christmas light displays the UK has to offer, make sure that this is the year you change that. We’ve handpicked eight of the most beautiful Christmas light displays across the country to brighten up the darker days ahead. Wrap up warm, grab your friends and make sure your phone is charged: you’re not going to want to miss these amazing photo ops.

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⛰️ Outdoorsy UK getaways to help you reconnect with nature

The best Christmas light trails in the UK

Stockeld Park
Photograph: Richard Walker

1. Stockeld Park

Head to the grounds of this majestic country house in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, to be transported into a wonderland of animated installations and creative light artistry. You won’t be disappointed: hard work goes into turning the ancient woodland into an ‘enchanted forest’, complete with a curated soundscape, fairytale creatures, twinkly tree branches and a lakeside light show. Talk about festive cheer.

Nov 19-Jan 3 2023. Book here.

2. Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens are worth seeing any day, but when they’re transformed once a year with millions of twinkly lights, they take on a whole new kind of magic. Not only can you expect dazzling light tunnels and shimmery rainbow-tinged tree branches, but Father Christmas will also be present to add to the charm. And once you’re finished seeing the best of the lights, finish off your evening with a warming hot chocolate and some sticky-sweet toasted marshmallows. Yum. 

Nov 17-Dec 30 2022. More info here

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Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light
Photograph: Thursford

3. Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light

This quaint village in Norfolk is home to one of the region’s most anticipated Christmas celebrations: Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light. You’ll see penguins, polar bears, elves and even a snowman family, before finishing up at the Lantern Light Extravaganza. Apparently, there will also be ‘naughty’ mushroom gnomes (we don’t know what they are, but sounds like you’d better watch out).

Nov 19-Dec 28 2022. Book here.

Blenheim Palace
Photograph: Richard Haughton

4. Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace – the birthplace of Winston Churchill – is an Oxfordshire landmark. To bring in the festive season, the country house throws an annual light trail around its gardens, complete with glittering lake reflections and mesmerising flames in the ‘fire garden’. If you’re lucky, you might even bump into Father Christmas. 

Nov 18-Jan 2 2023. Book here.

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Christmas at Waddesdon
Photograph: Peter Greenway

5. Christmas at Waddesdon

If you’re still waiting around to feel the Christmas spirit this year, don’t fret: this one-stop shop will put a change to that. The facade of Waddesdon’s manor house will be decked out with shimmering lights (and accompanied by a special soundtrack), while a spectacular light trail will be on offer to guide you around the Pleasure Grounds. A charming Christmas market will also be on hand with more than 80 stalls to sort you out with any last-minute gifts.

Nov 12-Jan 2 2023. Book here

6. Manchester Lightopia

If you’ve not been living under a rock, chance are you’ll have heard of Lightopia, the exciting annual light takeover of Manchester’s Heaton Park. Memorable installations will be dotted around to brighten up even the gloomiest of winter nights, including wild animals, colourful lanterns, Christmas characters, a sparkling tunnel and Lightopia’s ‘world-famous’ Phoenix bird. Not to be missed.

Nov 24-Jan 2 2023. Book here.

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RHS Glow
Photograph: RHS

7. RHS Glow

The Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley in Surrey is switching it up this year with a new lit-up walking route around its gardens. Guiding you round the Jellicoe Canal and the old Laboratory, the trail will take you through Wisteria Walk and into the Glasshouse where a white Christmas-themed plant display will leave a lasting impression as the dazzling finale. And you’re in luck: they’re promising even more fire and fountain displays than normal.

Nov 17-Jan 8 2023. Book here

8. Christmas at Gibside

Just outside of Newcastle, you’ll find Gibside: an eighteenth-century landscaped garden set in acres and acres (and acres) of picturesque woodland. New installations have been added to their magnificent after-dark festive light trail for 2022, promising an evening of extremely Instagrammable sights. 

Dec 2-Jan 1 2023. Book here

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