Christmas light shows: 14 top illuminated trails 2021
Here are our top picks for the best Christmas light shows and illuminated trails in gardens across the UK, to enjoy with friends and family during this festive season
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.
All of these Christmas light shows require booking in advance and many have social distancing measures in place. Remember to always book tickets and check with the venue as well as government guidelines before travelling.
The best Christmas light shows in gardens in 2021
RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
The RHS Garden Wisley, near Woking in Surrey, has called its Christmas light show Glow for 2021, with a 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 Rock Garden, 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 19th November 2021 - 4th January 2022
Book now at rhs.org.uk/wisley
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex
See RHS Garden Hyde Hall in a whole new light thanks to the 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 18th November - 29th December 2021
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 2021 with an extended route and new light features. 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.
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Torrington, EX38 8PH
Selected dates from 18th November - 30 December 2021
Book now at rhs.org.uk/rosemoor
The Eden Project, Cornwall
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 in the Mediterranean Biome, with a joyful backdrop to Christmas music from an 18-piece Big Band. In the Rainforest Biome, enjoy the enchanting atmosphere of a beautifully-lit tropical paradise, including an illuminated waterfall.
Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
Selected dates from 3rd December - 30th December 2021
Book tickets 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 trail this year, with illuminations and large-scale projections, 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.
Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens, Brighton Road, Lower Beeding, Horsham, RH13 6PP
Selected dates from 25th November to 22nd December 2021
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 for the Enchanted Christmas show. Visitors to the arboretum are being tasked to find Santa's lost reindeer 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 26th November - 21st December 2021
Book now at forestryengland.uk
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London
The hugely popular Kew gardens Christmas light show returns for another year. 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 Palm House. New for this year, enjoy the mesmerising flickering flames in the Fire Garden.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE
From 17th November 2021 - 9th January 2022
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, magical reflections and laser shows which illuminate and highlight the trees on an after-dark woodland walk. The festive trail with more than one million lights is always a hit with adults and children alike.
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Lady Oak Lane, Goudhurst, TN17 2SJ
Selected dates until 3rd January 2022
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.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1UL
19th November 2021 - 3rd January 2022
Book now at blenheimpalace.com
Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Christmas at The National Trust’s Dunham Massey in Cheshire returns for its fifth 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
19th November 2021 - 2nd January 2022
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 and giant baubles and snowflakes are dotted around where you least expect them. Enjoy sparkling tunnels of light, a fire garden and giant luminescent sculptures that rise high into the night sky.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Arboretum Place, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ
From 25 November 2021 - 2nd January 2022
Book now at rbge.org.uk
Belton House, Lincolnshire
There's an illuminated trail and Christmas light show through the gardens at The National Trust’s Belton House in Lincolnshire. Take in an amazing display of giant luminescent candles, baubles and glowing flowers, as well as a tunnel of light and a swaying meadow full of shimmering lights, and a host of independent street food vendors to sample along the way. 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
25th November 2021 - 2nd January 2022
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
26 November 2021 - 2nd January 2022 (except 24th & 25th December)
Book now at christmasatstourhead.seetickets.com
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.
Katie is a Staff Writer for HomeStyle magazine and YourHomeStyle.uk. She previously worked on Gardens Illustrated magazine and has written for various other lifestyle magazines and brands. She particularly enjoys writing about indie and sustainable homeware brands, interior styles through the ages, houseplants and decor hacks for small spaces. She is also responsible for HomeStyle's buyer's guides, so you'll often find her testing out the latest homeware gadgets and kitchen appliances.
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