Make the most of the festive season with a magical winter light trail. Discover the best illuminative experiences and light trails in the East of England.
Light trails and illuminative experiences have become increasingly popular in recent years. A great winter’s event for all ages, take a walk through a winter wonderland of twinkling trees, sparkling stately homes and colourful characters. We list the best light experiences in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Glow at Hyde Hall, 10 November – 1 January
Hyde Hall, Essex
It is the season of sparkle and RHS Garden Hyde Hall is glowing. The gardens, shrubs and trees will be lit with bright colours and pretty patterns. Wander through the winter trail, which this year includes the Australia and New Zealand garden. From here you’ll see dazzling views back across the grounds. The willow trees will be draped in twinkling lights and leaf sculptures lit with festive colours. Finish your evening by warming up with a festive beverage from the German style stalls.
Luminate Sandringham, 12 November – 19 December
Sandringham Estate, Norfolk
The-mile-long winter trail takes visitors on a journey twinkling light displays within the country park at Sandringham. The much-loved rural home of royalty, the experience will enthral your senses as the lights sparkle alongside ambient music. End the evening with a whirl on the vintage fairground rides.
Tunnel of Light in Norwich, 16 November – 5 January
Now a Christmas tradition in the city, the Tunnel of Light returns for the festive season. Attracting visitors to Norwich from far and wide, the 45-metre tunnel dressed in 57,000 LED bulbs is a sight to behold. Norwich Castle projections will also once again take place. The historic attraction’s façade will be lit with festive images. Projections have previously included everything from Fantasia to Father Christmas. If you’re looking for a festive city break that ticks all the boxes, put Norwich on your list!
Christmas Crown Trail, 16 November – 5 January
Norwich Business Improvement District and VisitNorwich in partnership with Norfolk Museum Services celebration of ‘Christmas at the Castle: The Story of the King’, brings a trail of crowns hidden in the windows of shops and businesses, Norwich Cathedral and stalls on Norwich Market. Taking you across Norwich in a quest to find as many crowns as possible, pick up a map and get going remembering to look up, down and around along the way! The trail begins at Norwich Castle and leads visitors to the Tunnel of Light. More information here.
Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light, 19 November – 23 December
The home of Christmas in East Anglia, Thursford know how to put on a show. In addition to its famous Christmas Spectacular and Magical Santa’s Journey, the Enchanted Journey of Light creates a fantasy world of illuminated characters. The route will pass through Santa’s Magical Journey building with its penguins, polar bears, snowmen and elves hard at work. Venture outside into the Lantern Light Extravaganza full of luminous sculptures.
Illuminated Garden Trail, 19 November – 19 December
Helmingham Hall, Suffolk
Add some sparkle to a dark winter’s evening with a stroll around the dazzling gardens of Helmingham Hall. The trail begins at the historic drawbridge with mulled wine in the charming courtyard. Continue into the gardens dressed in thousands of lights for a magical winter experience. Finish with s’mores around the fire pit and a browse of the Stables Shops and pop-up stalls.
Shuttleworth in Lights – A Festive Special, 25 November – 19 December
This year the illuminated trail will take on a festive
twist! With a bevvy of wonderful Christmas and festive elements to find along your walk as you discover an enchanting world of light and colour. Start the adventure at the World Famous Shuttleworth Collection Hangars from here enter the Swiss Garden, head into the Paddock 4 for a special display, re-join the route at the Shrubbery walk, pop past the Summer House, then stroll down the wonderful Lakeside Parkland and back into the Swiss Garden, finishing with a visit to the Gift Shop and Runway Café.
Enchanted Woodland Walk at Ashridge House, 26 November – 9 January
A truly magical festive experience, the trail begins at the Italian Gardens and proceeds into the woodlands where sparkling light installations bring the grounds to life. It’s a spectacular illuminated wonderland of festive fun. For something extra special, book a pre-trail dining experience. Head chef Paul Patterson will be serving up a delicious two course set menu in one of the heritage rooms inside the house – a perfect start to your evening and a fabulous festive experience to remember.
Christmas at Wimpole, 26 November-2 January
The after-dark illuminated trail through festive gardens is a must-visit event this winter. Be surrounded by more than a million twinkling lights, colourful trees and amazing illuminated installations, all choreographed to a soundtrack of much-loved seasonal music. There will be burnished lantern trees filled with flickering flames, neon strings stretched between towering trees, singing trees, larger-than-life mistletoe and perhaps a glimpse at Father Christmas too. This year sees some dazzling additions including the Christmas Cathedral adorned with over 100,000 pea-lights, a neon tree and tree stars for that extra festive touch. After exploring the lights, warm up with toasted marshmallows and a hot chocolate.
Enlightened at Hylands House, 26 November – 2 January
Due to popular demand, this year’s trail features a longer route with even more sparkling light installations. Curtains of fairy lights provide the perfect backdrop for a selfie, trees are up lit with bright colours, buildings are decorated in dazzling displays and laser beams shoot into the sky. The event is the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy this Christmas.
Garden of Lights at Blickling, 29 November – 19 December
Enjoy the colours, smells and sounds of Christmas at Blickling Hall. Begin your visit through the magically lit walled garden, before discovering the garden of lights and lit acorns on the Parterre. Warm up with mulled wine and a mince pie as you soak up the magical atmosphere at night.
Enchanted at Audley End, selected dates in December
This December, visitors will be able to enter a fairy-tale landscape as Audley End’s grounds are transformed into a winter wonderland of light, colour and sound. There’s magic at play with giant lilies reflecting in the Cam and along the wintery trail, families will be able to see Audley’s formal garden’s aglow and the historic house lit with festive projections. Experience a kaleidoscope of colours on the lawn, and for little ones the true magic is to be found at the secret fairy village. After your festive adventure, treat yourself to a mulled wine and mince pie, enjoy a fairground ride and browse for Christmas presents in the gift shop.
IlluminAbbey, 2-4 December
The Abbey Gardens in Busy St Edmunds will be decorated in a dazzling display of lights accompanied by music and live entertainment, suitable for all ages. The 1km route begins at the Eastgate Nursery entrance, leading through the illuminated gardens and ruins. Along the way, there will be street theatre, circus acts and high impact drumming troupe with kaleidoscopic lighting. The trail takes place 4.30pm-8.30pm. Tickets; adult £6, child (4-16 years) £4, under 4s go free.
Winter Lights at Anglesey Abbey, 3-19 December
One of the most magical festive experiences in Cambridgeshire, wander the trail which takes visitors on a journey of illuminative displays and creative light choreography. Taking place Friday to Sunday through December, this year’s theme is ‘‘Nature by Night, Nature by Light’ and promises to be a sensory overload.
Stockwood Illuminated, 3 December – 23 December
Take a journey of light and sound in the historic gardens at Stockwood Discovery Centre. Throughout the seasonal period you can explore Stockwood in a new light. Weave your way on a self-guided trail through the illuminated pathways, set against the backdrop of the lush greenery. Running time: 60 mins, with slots available every 30 minutes
Duxford in a Different Light, 19 February
IWM Duxford have school holidays covered with its programme of family events. From 27 December to 20 February, the museum will display a large exhibition of 12 historic spitfires, titled ‘Spitfire: Evolution of an Icon’. The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of tours, talks, events and family activities which will delve deeper into the Spitfire’s history.
‘Duxford in a Different Light’ returns on 19 February 2022. All twelve Spitfires gathered for the exhibition will be lit by white and coloured lights throughout the evening, complete with re-enactors from living history groups. Tickets priced £75, include admission to the site from 3:30pm. Book tickets here.