Let it shine: 10 best Christmas light displays in Britain | Travel

Dunham Massey, Cheshire

A pair of giant glittering reindeer greet visitors to Dunham Massey’s illuminated footpath, with the grounds and exterior of the house blazing in bright, festive colours. Highlights include the Rose Garden, with 150 illuminated roses that fade and light up to the beat of the music, and the fire lanterns, which lend an ethereal feel to the wooded landscape. The trail takes approximately 90 minutes, with proceeds going to conservation work on the estate. In the nearby village of Ripton, the Black Swan has 14 bedrooms and a children’s play area (doubles from £125 B&B, theblackswan.co.uk). From November 18 to January 2, nationaltrust.org.uk

Roundhay Park, Leeds

Silhouetted Figures Approaching a Garden of Fire
New flames: a fire garden in Roundhay Park. Photography: Richard Haughton

New to this winter, Roundhay Park promises wild wicker sculptures, spectacular light and music installations and a flickering fire garden, all set in the lush, rolling landscapes of one of Europe’s largest parks. Fuel up with a rum-infused hot chocolate or spiced mulled wine, and continue the evening with an indulgent stay at Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa, a 15-minute drive from Roundhay, with a luxurious Caudalie spa and guest rooms comfortable and unpretentious (doubles from £105 B&B, thorpeparkhotel.com). December 8 to January 1, Christmas at roundhaypark.seetickets.com

Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire

Luminate in Llanarthney, Wales
In tune: Luminate in Llanarthney, Wales, is set to music. Photography: Dimitris Legakis

A mile-long trail, Luminate brings together giant glitter balls, thousands of fairy lights and an interactive light show, with twinkling, syncopated lights set to ambient music. The trail takes about 60-90 minutes to walk, with trees blazing with scarlet and bottle green lights, and plenty of kid-friendly exhibits. Stay at the impressive Llwynhelig Manor near Llandeilo, an upscale, dog-friendly B&B set in 24 acres of rolling grounds, with three elegant bedrooms (doubles from £135 B&B, llwynheligmanor.co.uk). From December 1 to January 2, luminate.live/garden-of-wales

Leeds Castle, Kent

Roast marshmallows at Leeds Castle.
Warm Glow: Roasting Marshmallows at Leeds Castle

Brand new this year, Leeds Castle and Park will display over a meter of lights and lasers, as well as giant balls and a fire garden bringing sparkling warmth to the proceedings. French art studio Tilt provided three spectacular light installations and a Christmas soundtrack gives the course a festive atmosphere. Stay in the Castle Stable Courtyard rooms, set in a 900 year old stable in the grounds, with free entry to the castle (the lighted path still chargeable, doubles from £140 B&B, leeds-castle. com). November 25 to January 1, leeds-castle.com

Audley End, Suffolk

Illuminations at Audley End, Suffolk.
Under the arches: illuminations at Audley End, Suffolk. Photograph: Jo Denison/English Heritage

Enchanted Audley is your chance to explore one of England’s grandest 17th century estates under starry skies, with dancing fountains, a maze of fairy lights and spectacular illuminations on the house front. The course ends with a “wish tree” where children can write their wishes on slips of paper and hang them on the branches. Follow your visit with a stay at the Old Cross Keys in Saffron Walden, an atmospheric Elizabethan building with bright contemporary interiors (doubles from £95 B&B, theoldcrosskeys.co.uk). Dates chosen from December 2 to 30, english-heritage.org.uk

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Lighting by the lake.
Reflect yourself: Edinburgh lakeside lighting

Expect a captivating spectacle of lakeside illuminations, trees bathed in color, and fairy-lit tunnels. The trail takes about 90 minutes on foot, with occasional short, steep sections, and a selection of street vendors to keep walkers warm and refueled. Stay at the Raeburn, an elegant Georgian mansion a stone’s throw from the gardens, with rooms decorated in classic Scottish fabrics and an excellent restaurant (doubles from £125 B&B, theraeburn.com). Selected dates from November 17 to December 30, rbge.org.uk

Westonbirt, Tetbury, Wiltshire

Three figures in front of rays of blue light at Westonbirt Arboretum in Wiltshire.
Woodland Magic: The Trail of Light at Westonbirt Arboretum in Wiltshire. Photo: Johnny Hathaway

Westonbirt Arboretum is home to 2,500 species of trees from around the world and its annual illuminations and light trails in the woods feature a troupe of Wood Elves this year. Stay at the Royal Oak in Tetbury, a restored 18th century coaching inn with a restaurant specializing in seasonal local cuisine with good vegan and GH options and six stylish bedrooms (doubles from £95 B&B, theroyaloaktetbury.co.uk). Dates chosen from 25 November to 21 December, forestryEngland.UK

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire lit up.
Palace Shard: Blenheim in Oxfordshire. Photography: Richard Haughton

One of the UK’s most imposing country estates, Blenheim has a new illuminated footpath this year, with twinkling light displays and fields of fire as the backdrop to the vast palace, bathed in a spectacular light show . The trail is just part of the Blenheim Christmas experience with the palace transformed into a Frozen kingdom, a festive market in the grounds and plenty of offerings of mulled wine and festive treats. Stay at the King’s Arms, a 10-minute walk away, a historic inn with cozy bedrooms and an elegant bottle-green dining room serving hearty British classics (doubles from £129 B&B, kingshotelwoodstock.co.uk). From November 18 to January 2, blenheimpalace.com

RHS Garden, Exmouth, Devon

Nestled in the Vale of Torridge, Rosemoor Garden’s Glow event offers a chance to enjoy its magnificent array of trees, shrubs, water features and illuminated sculptures on a magical path through its garden. winter. A short drive away, Ram’s Head In is a charming 17th-century inn, owned by French chef Nicolas Boucher, with dog-friendly rooms and a renowned restaurant (doubles from £115 B&B, ramsheadinn.co.uk ). Selected dates from 17 November to 30 December, rhs.org.uk

Kew Gardens, London

Christmas at Kew.
In the Garden of Light: Christmas at Kew. Photography: Jeff Eden

One of the first – and still one of the best – lighted trails, Christmas at Kew is your chance to see these amazing gardens from a whole different perspective. The 2.6 km trail passes through seas of lights, walls of flames and stretches of illuminated trees with a spectacular light show through the houses of the palms and temperate regions. Combine a visit to Kew with a stroll through Richmond Park and a stay at the Richmond Harbor Hotel, perched on a hill with lovely views and a fabulous cocktail bar (doubles from £153 room-only, harbourhotels.co.uk ). Selected dates from November 16 to January 6, kew.org

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