Let there be light! It’s that time of the year again; the clocks have turned back and the evenings are darker which means Christmas is on the horizon. It will be a slightly different Christmas for us all this year, but luckily many Christmas light shows and light festivals are still going ahead in the open air, with Covid safety measures in place. These outdoor, socially distant events are a great way to spend time with family and friends safely and are always a hit with kids. We have compiled 14 of the best Christmas light shows to visit near you in the UK, from Edinburgh to Cornwall, in the hope that you can get your proper festive fix.
Now the second lockdown has hit, several places are postponing their light trails until later in December, but there are a series, including the RHS Glow walks that are continuing. Always check before you travel.
And if the thought of Christmas light festivals has reminded you about your impending Christmas shopping list, be sure to take a look at our gardening gift ideas for inspiration. Or do you fancy bringing a bit of light to your own garden this winter? If so, check out some of our favourite garden lighting ideas to bring some merriment to the darker evenings.
All of these Christmas light shows require booking in advance and have socially-distant measures in place. Remember to always check government guidelines before travelling.
The best Christmas light shows in gardens in 2020
RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
The RHS Garden Wisley, near Woking in Surrey, has updated their Christmas light show for 2020 with a new walking trail for visitors alongside captivating light shows and musical accompaniment which highlights some of the garden’s most-loved sights. The Christmas light show has been designed by the garden’s in-house team, ensuring visitors will see the very best of what RHS Wisley has to offer. Lights will draw visitors through the Pinetum, Seven Acres and Wisteria Walk, as well as breathtaking scenery along the way and vibrant displays both inside and outside the garden’s Glasshouse.
RHS Garden Wisley, Wisley Lane, Wisley, Woking, GU23 6QB
Selected dates from 21st November – 4th January 2021
Book now at rhs.org.uk/wisley
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex
See RHS Garden Hyde Hall in a whole new light thanks to a brand-new illuminated Christmas trail. The garden, near Chelmsford in Essex, has had a magical technicolour makeover, and the festive fun begins as soon as you arrive. Visitors are greeted with a magnificent lone oak tree, lit up on a distant hillside, before embarking on a winding, twinkling route around the rest of the garden. A luminous birch grove, sycamore seeds glimmering in the dark, the sculptural winter garden awash with colour and trees lit up against the wintry night sky are just a few highlights.
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Chelmsford, CM3 8ET
Selected dates from 19th November – 3rd January 2021
Book now at rhs.org.uk/hydehall
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire
The Christmas light trail at the RHS’s most northern garden, Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, has been extended this year to showcase more garden highlights to guests. Special lighting effects will show off the garden’s magnificent trees and shrubs and create spectacular reflections in the lake. Guests will be able to admire the garden sculptures and popular Winter Walk, as well as enjoying the new route along the garden’s Streamside.
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB
Selected dates from 19th November – 30th December 2020
Book now at rhs.org.uk/harlowcarr
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Devon
RHS Garden Rosemoor in Great Torrington, Devon has also refreshed their Christmas light show for 2020. Visitors can enjoy the garden’s Winter Garden and Cool Garden as well as the popular Long Borders and Lake, all aglow in festive lights. New for this year, the Christmas trail will take visitors through the picturesque Cottage Garden and the festive display will include some interactive elements for guests, which is a first for RHS Rosemoor.
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Torrington, EX38 8PH
Selected dates from 19th November – 2nd January 2021
Book now at rhs.org.uk/rosemoor
The Eden Project, Cornwall: CLOSED UNTIL 3 DECEMBER
The Eden Project in Cornwall is pulling out all the stops this year with an all-round enchanting, winter wonderland, Christmas light festival extravaganza! Visitors will be dazzled by a musical light show around the site with a spectacular light display on the tropical Rainforest Biome and in the Mediterranean Biome thousands of twinkling lights will create a joyful backdrop to Christmas music. Meanwhile, a glittering ice rink will be open to guests for 40 minute slots and even Santa and his elves will make an appearance.
Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
4th December – 30th December
Tickets will be available to book from 4 November at edenproject.com
Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens, West Sussex
Admire the historic mansion buildings and Grade I listed gardens at Leonardslee in West Sussex with their artistic and eye-catching Christmas light show this year, as well as live music and theatrical performances. One of the most popular features of the Leonardslee light show is the Christmas Moon which floats above the lake. Lit up woodland creatures, including a fierce wolf and a not so native forest fire dragon, and digital projections also add to the sparkling festive atmosphere.
Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens, Brighton Road, Lower Beeding, Horsham, RH13 6PP
Selected dates from 11th to 13th and 17th to 23rd and 27 to 28 December.
Book now at leonardsleegardens.co.uk
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Embark on a nighttime journey through the statuesque trees at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Tetbury, near Bristol. The arboretum will be home to the ‘West Pole’ this year and visitors are being tasked to find it amongst the sparkling light trails and illuminations. The bare trees come alive with the colourful light show, highlighting their amazing natural structures, textures and silhouettes.
Westonbirt, Tetbury, GL8 8QS
Selected dates from 4th- 21st December on scheduled nights
Book now at forestryengland.uk
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London
The hugely popular Kew gardens Christmas light show returns for its eighth year, with a brand new trail for visitors. The iconic Kew gardens will be lit up by over one-million lights, making it one of the brightest and most sparkling of Christmas light shows. Visitors can enjoy festive bursts of colour throughout the gardens and marvel at the beautifully illuminated Rose Garden, new on the trail for 2020. A glittering tunnel of bells, giant illuminated seed heads and enchanting trees wrapped in light will also be on show.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE
4 December – 3rd January 2021
Book now at kew.org
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Kent
Nestled in the High Weald in Kent, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is Bedgbury National Pinetum and Forest. Take in the incredible scenery at their Christmas light show this year, which is full of seasonal surprises, sparkling lights and laser shows which illuminate and highlight the trees to a stunning degree. The festive trail is one mile long and is always a hit with adults and children alike.
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Lady Oak Lane, Goudhurst, TN17 2SJ
Will take place after lockdown, after 3 December. See the website for full details.
Book now at christmasatbedgebury.seetickets.com
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Wander under magical, lit up tree canopies and marvel at the garden landscape of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire on their Christmas winter wonderland adventure this year. Dramatically illuminated lights, including lasers, light projections and silvery shards of light will marvel you as you take in the beautiful surroundings. A new scented ‘fire garden’ is also sure to dazzle.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1UL
20th December – 3rd January 2021
Book now at blenheimpalace.com
Dunham Massey, Cheshire: CURRENTLY BEING REVIEWED
Christmas at The National Trust’s Dunham Massey in Cheshire returns for its fourth year, after great success in previous years. Their popular Christmas light show includes a giant glittering deer (in honour of the deer park), huge sparkling snowflakes, colour-changing lakeside reflections and an incredible crystal and fire garden, all aglow with hundreds of flickering flames.
National Trust Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
20th November to 30th December
Book now at christmasatdunhammassey.seetickets.com
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Enter a botanical world full of festive cheer at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s Christmas light show. Laser lights resemble cheering fireworks, giant luminescent sculptures rise high into the night sky and giant baubles and snowflakes are dotted around where you least expect them. The garden’s Inverleith House will also be brought to life with light dancing across its historic façade and the tunnel of light returns with sparkling splendour.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Arboretum Place, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ
From 2 December – 3rd January 2021
Book now at rbge.org.uk
Belton House, Lincolnshire
Another fairly new Christmas light show is at The National Trust’s Belton House in Lincolnshire. Take in an amazing display of giant luminescent candles, giant baubles, glowing flowers, a tunnel of light and a swaying meadow full of shimmering lights, all with a soundtrack of great festive classics! Make sure to enjoy a mulled wine or hot chocolate and don’t forget to spot Santa and his elves…
Belton House, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG32 2LS
27th December – 3rd January 2021
Book now at christmasatbelton.seetickets.com
Known for its spectacular trees and picturesque lake, Stourhead’s Christmas light show drenches the scenery in wonderful luminescent colours. One great highlight is the larger than life flora lit up on the way to the Crocus Lawn. Visitors can also expect lit up tree canopies, scented fire garden and a tunnel of light, as well as festive treats and music, and not forgetting Father Christmas of course!
Stourhead, Mere, Wiltshire, BA12 6QD
4 December – 3rd January 2021
Book now at christmasatstourhead.seetickets.com