Christmas Lights: Velvet’s round-up of winter wonderlands to visit
Trip the light fantastic and see treetops glisten as enchanting local venues are transformed into winter wonderlands. Louise Cummings ventures out after dark to find joyful Christmas light trails
Cambridge Botanic Lights
Be one of the first to see Cambridge University Botanic Garden illuminated in all its splendour at the inaugural winter lights trail! Cambridge Botanic Lights will see many of the garden’s most beloved features – including the fountain, lake and glasshouse – bathed in a festive glow. Elsewhere dazzling installations dotted around the landscape will enable visitors to the see the garden’s unique features in a magical new light. CUBG Director, Professor Beverley Glover, says: “We hope that this exciting new experience will be a wonderful way for all the family to explore the Garden after dark, provide a fun night out with friends or a beautiful, new romantic experience in the city centre.”
And don’t worry if it’s cold outside, as the Garden Café will be open, and hot drinks and snacks will be available halfway around the trail to keep spirits high and warm chilly fingers!
Christmas at Wimpole
Embark on a spectacular journey through spellbinding music and luminous lights at the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate. Sony Music’s magical illuminated trail – Christmas at Wimpole – is returning for a third year, boasting a new route and an array of breathtaking installations.
Be awestruck by huge feathers floating high in the sky, surround yourself with sparkle in a long glowing tunnel and meander past contemporary Christmas trees festooned in all the colours of the rainbow. And make sure you’re on your best behaviour, as there’s a chance to glimpse Father Christmas along the trail!
Book: Christmas at Wimpole runs November 24 to December 31. Book tickets at christmasatwimpole.seetickets.com/
Anglesey Abbey Winter Lights
A shining star in the Christmas calendar, Anglesey Abbey’s light trail promises wall-to-wall wow-factor with art installations, illuminated snowdrops, animal-themed lanterns, projections on the house and mill, and beautiful bespoke artwork.
Entitled Nature by Night, Nature by Light, the event will feature various artists and performers, including award-winning Cambridgeshire artist and garden designer, Jeni Cairns. If the weather turns decidedly frosty, visitors can warm up at the Heritage Orchard where there will be delicious hot food and drinks, courtesy of indie street food vendors. The shop will also open late for Christmas shopping!
Book: Winter Lights: Nature by Night, Nature by Light runs on weekends from November 17 - 19 to December 8 – 10. Tickets available at nationaltrust.org.uk/AAWinterLights
Helmingham Hall Illuminated Garden Trail
A wonderful opportunity to witness this magnificent moated manor house and its grade 1 listed gardens suffused in glistening lights! Helmingham Hall’s exquisite trail begins in the best way possible – with a glass of mulled wine in the 500-year-old courtyard.
Afterwards, follow a mile-long route through the knot garden, parterre, woodland garden and tree-lined apple walk, marvelling at incredible sound and lighting effects. New for this year is a wintery alpine food and drink area boasting pop-up pub The Stag Tavern, tasty street food and toasted s’mores around the firepit. Wright’s Café will also be open for refreshments, as will the Stable Shops, packed with festive treats and gifts.
Book: Helmingham Hall’s Illuminated Garden Trail runs November 16 to December 17. Visit helmingham.com for tickets
Ickworth’s Light Nights
An Italianate palace in the heart of Suffolk, with a distinctive Rotunda, Ickworth House is magnificent by day and captivating by night! It’s Light Nights event promises a relaxed evening immersed in nature with a sparkly trail that weaves through canopies of trees, Italianate ever-greens and a gothic Victorian-esque stumpery.
This year, the route also takes in the cedar meadow and the front of the Rotunda. Post amble, visit the West Wing Café and Gift Shop for seasonal tipples, festive bakes and late-night gifts.
Book: Visit Ickworth’s Light Nights event, November 10 to 26. More at nationaltrust.org.uk and search Ickworth light Nights
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