Around the country between November and January, historic houses, gardens and city centres stage festive events and Brenda Watkinson brings you the latest update of what’s on offer this year.As dusk falls illuminated trails spectacularly light up gardens around the UK – and these are an enchanting way to start the festive season.
Christmas at Kew takes place from 22nd November to 5th January 2019. For the sixth Christmas at Kew, the display will include one million lights, which will illuminate a mile-long, after dark trail through the Gardens.
The immersive experience will feature trees adorned with twinkling lights, a flickering fire garden, a cathedral of light as well as 300 illuminated origami boats on Kew’s glistening lake.
The trail will appeal to all ages and children will be able to spot Santa along the way, while adults can enjoy a warming glass of mulled wine and other festive treats.
English Heritage is welcoming groups this year with an outdoor ‘Enchanted’ adventure at five sites, where gardens will be transformed into magical wintry worlds in a kaleidoscope of light, colour and sound.
Especially picked for their spectacular grounds the Enchanted events takes place at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, near Doncaster, Audley End House and Gardens near Saffron, Waldon Eltham Palace and Gardens, and the ruins of Witley Court and Gardens, Worcestershire. GTOs are recommended to book early.
The RHS is offering a number of festive packages for groups this year including glow illuminations, special walking tours and festive feasts.
All four RHS gardens are offering special winter events, including the magical Glow illuminations at RHS Gardens Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon, and Harlow Carr in Harrogate, as well as a special Winter Garden at RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex.
Group catering packages are on offer with options including festive lunches, afternoon teas, mulled wine and mince pies.
At RHS Garden Rosemoor, Glow Illuminations will take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 16th November to 5th January when hi-tech colour changing lights will illuminate the garden offering an amazing spectacle for visitors.
Groups can take advantage of special Glow Catering packages, which include an early evening Glow ‘simple supper’. Rosemoor is offering a special Festive Cream Tea and Afternoon Tea option featuring spiced scones with Orange and Cranberry jam and Clotted Cream.
In Hampshire, groups can experience an after-dark, illuminated trail through the grounds and gardens of Beaulieu as they wander beneath tree canopies full of seasonal colour along the one-mile illuminated path as it winds its way through the grounds (23rd November to 30th December).
Also available during the festive season, the Beaulieu Abbey Christmas Lunch can be booked on selected dates, while groups attending a Palace House Soiree, available from November to mid-December will be entertained with traditional songs around the piano as they enjoy a glass of mulled punch.
New this year is a Christmas light trail in the heart of Kent at the Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest from 30 November to 30 December. The National Pinetum will be transformed into a winter wonderland with an after-dark illuminated trail created by Raymond Gubbay.
In Wiltshire, Longleat’s Festival of Light features more than 645 illuminated lanterns that will transform the grounds as darkness falls.
This year’s theme is an expedition around the world with three new characters, siblings Harry and Bea, and their terrier companion, Monty. In each lantern scene the trio can be found exploring wondrous locations filled with astonishing creatures and magnificent scenery.
The seasonal spectacle continues with the 50ft enchanted Christmas Tree Show, Longleat House dressed for a 1920s Christmas and the Santa Train. The Festival of Light is included in a Group Festival of Light Day Ticket and group rates are available for 12 or more people.