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Christmas: Five unmissable outdoor festive events




From carolling on the Cam to following light trails around the grounds of stately homes, Velvet finds five of the best outdoor festive events

Richenda Collins ' chief elf ' preparing for the launch of Magic and Mayhem at the University Botanic Gardens on Friday. Picture: Keith Heppell. (53246027)
Richenda Collins ' chief elf ' preparing for the launch of Magic and Mayhem at the University Botanic Gardens on Friday. Picture: Keith Heppell. (53246027)

With the low sun illuminating its coloured stems, textured barks and late-blooming flowers, winter is always magical at Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

But from now until December 23 you can expect a little mayhem alongside the magic: a team of elves has been at work, leaving fun and festive surprises scattered across the garden’s 40 acres of borders, lawns and glasshouses, too.

A free map and colouring-in activity can be collected at the ticket office. Expect piles of presents to pop up under the trees, rubber ducks in Santa hats to bob in the iconic central fountain, and plenty of sparkle. . .

Tickets are released online at 10am each Thursday for the following week. For opening days and times, prices and to book visit botanic.cam.ac.uk

Xmas at WImpole. Neon tree by Culture Creative mychristmastrails 2020 photo by Richard Haughton Sony Music (53246032)
Xmas at WImpole. Neon tree by Culture Creative mychristmastrails 2020 photo by Richard Haughton Sony Music (53246032)

Promising a stunning after-dark display - glowing baubles suspended in the sky, trees uplit in all colours of the rainbow, tunnels radiating with fairy lights - the first ever illuminated trail at the National Trust’s Wimpole Hall is a chance to see its famously beautiful gardens in a whole new light.

Staged by Sony Music, the light displays are choreographed to a backing track of Christmas classics, plus you can say hello to Father Christmas and stop off for winter-warmer street food and drink en route. What could be more festive?

The illuminated trail runs at Wimpole Hall, Arrington, Royston SG8 0BW, from November 26 to January 2. See nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole for more details and ticket booking.

Christmas Events at Wandlebury (53246057)
Christmas Events at Wandlebury (53246057)

Cambridge Past, Present & Future, the charity which cares for our city’s green spaces, is hosting a series of special festive events in the run-up to Christmas.

On December 8, you’re invited to Winter Trees, a guided walk through Wandlebury, Cambridge’s country park, in the company of a warden who will show you how to identify the species you see (10am-noon, free, donations welcome).

On December 5 and 11, also at the park, Winter Wreath Making is a chance to make your own door display using natural materials (90-minute sessions throughout the day, £18 per family).

Finally, on December 10 and 11, Cambridge Leper Chapel is the venue for a performance of A Christmas Carol, performed as Charles Dickens did himself - as a one-man show (7.30pm both nights, adults £14, under-18s £10).

Tickets for all three events are set to sell swiftly - book yours at cambridgeppf.org.

Christmas carols on the river (53246004)
Christmas carols on the river (53246004)

Get all the festive feels being serenaded by the heavenly Choir of St John the Evangelist whilst you glide along the glass-like waters of the River Cam. Christmas Carols on the River – a collaboration between Let’s Go Punting and the Traditional Punting Company – takes place on Sunday, December 5.

Snuggle under a cosy blanket on a chauffeured punt and marvel at the twinkly Christmas lights as the choir sings classic carols during an hour-long festive experience.

One hundred per cent of ticket sales go to Blue Smile, which helps transform children’s mental health and life chances across Cambridgeshire.

Both shared and private chauffeured punts are available.

Book tickets at letsgopunting.co.uk or traditionalpuntingcompany.com

Richenda Collins ' chief elf ' preparing for the launch of Magic and Mayhem at the University Botanic Gardens on Friday. Picture: Keith Heppell. (53246027)
Richenda Collins ' chief elf ' preparing for the launch of Magic and Mayhem at the University Botanic Gardens on Friday. Picture: Keith Heppell. (53246027)

Follow in the footsteps of much-loved book character Percy the Park Keeper on a series of winter wanders at local National Trust properties. Pop on your wellies and cosy attire to trudge along activity trails at Anglesey Abbey, Wimpole and Wicken Fen, from December 4, and Ickworth Estate, from January 4.

Percy the Park Keeper is the creation of award-winning author and illustrator Nick Butterworth and loves spending time outside with his animal friends. His trails will bring you closer to nature and wildlife; just follow Percy’s notes to find his trusty gardening tools and receive a prize at the end. You can even get a selfie with Percy himself!

Follow Percy the Park Keeper's winter wander trails throughout December 2021 and January 2022. Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk


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