Add a touch of sparkle to the festive season this year with a Cotswolds Christmas light trail. With castles, museums, forests and farms all draped in colourful lights, these light trails have become an annual Christmas tradition. So wrap up warm (and bring an umbrella just in case), grab a hot drink and explore one of these fabulously festive 2023 Christmas light trails in the Cotswolds.
Christmas light trails in The Cotswolds
Sudeley Castle Spectacle of Light
On the outskirts of Winchcombe, the ruins of 15th-century Sudeley Castle make an beautiful backdrop for the annual Spectacle of Light event, with a Christmas light trail running though the castle grounds. Sudeley has an impressive royal pedigree – it has hosted kings and queens and was home to Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr, who is buried in its church.
Sudeley has been running the Spectacle of Light since 2016, and each year the trail has a different theme. 2023’s show is based around The Wizard of Oz and features a wave of light on the mulberry lawn, flickering fire flowers, sparkling water features, lanterns, light beams and Harlequin trees as you travel to the Emerald City, with the trail set to music to add to the atmosphere.
The light trail takes around 60-90 minutes to walk, and there are stalls selling festive food and drink on the castle terrace just after the halfway point (they do get busy so prepare to queue).
Open on selected evenings from 24 November–30 December 2023. Entry £24 adults/£12 children under 16 (advance booking required), with discounts if you book before 23 November.
Westonbirt Arboretum Enchanted Christmas
Westonbirt Arboretum near Tetbury swaps the colours of its autumn leaves for the sparkle of Christmas lights this winter at their Enchanted Christmas light trail in the Cotswolds. The Arboretum has over 15,000 trees and shrubs spread across 800 acres – and somewhere among them are Father Christmas’ elves, who’ve have been tasked with decorating the trees.
The light trail takes you on a mission to help the elves get the arboretum decorated on time for Father Christmas’ arrival, with colourful trees, clever visual effects and interactive displays for kids. Along the way there are talking trees, glittering disco balls and mischievous elves.
The trail is around a mile long (plus there’s a reasonable walk to get to the start from the car park) and takes around 45–90 minutes to complete. There are food and drink stalls along the way and in the Christmas village at the start and end, which also has traditional fairground rides.
Open on selected evenings from 24 November–23 December 2023. Entry £21 adults/£19 students/£14 children under 18 (advance booking required).
Blenheim Palace Illuminated Light Trail
Residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, birthplace of Winston Churchill and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blenheim is a palace on a grand scale. And each Christmas it opens up for special festive events, including an Illuminated Light Trail through the palace gardens. The trail winds through woodland, with giant light sculptures, projections and lasers set to music.
Each year there’s a mix of new installations and old favourites, from rainbow rays of light filling the gardens and dancing lakeside reflections to the ever-popular (and highly Instagrammable) tunnel of light with over 100,000 tiny light bulbs. Along the way street food stalls sell tasty treats.
You can also add on a visit to the palace itself, which is decorated with a Sleeping Beauty theme this year. And the palace’s annual Christmas market also returns for 2023.
Open on selected evenings from 17 November 2023–1 January 2024. Entry £26.50 adults/£19.50 children under 18, plus £10 for parking (pre-booking advised). There are also some off-peak tickets in November and early December for £19.50/£14.50. Palace tickets sold separately.
Cotswold Farm Park Enchanted Light Trail
The Enchanted Light Trail at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park is returning for 2023 with a new Christmas display which has been developed by local creative artists and lighting designers. The park is open after hours for this family-friendly event, which gives you the chance to experience the Cotswold Farm Park in a whole new way, filled with colour, light, sound and sparkle.
The Enchanted Light Trail takes around 60–90 minutes to walk, and runs from the visitor centre area to the park’s boundaries and back. Along the route there are light displays inspired by different animals, as well as some real animals to feed and a magical illuminated woodland.
There are crackling fire pits to toast marshmallows over and hot drinks to keep you warm, as well as a café and a gift shop at the end of the trail selling Christmas cards, decorations and gifts.
Open on selected evenings from 24 November–31 December 2023. Entry £21.95 adults/£18.95 seniors/£16.50 children aged 4–15/£11.50 toddlers aged 2 and 3 (pre-booking advised).
Painswick Rococo Garden Enchanted Garden By Night
The Enchanted Garden By Night at Painswick Rococo Garden is a new trail for 2023. The garden, located in a valley on the edge of the pretty village of Painswick, was designed in the 18th century to enthrall and delight visitors, and is the last surviving Rococo garden in the country.
In this festive follow-up to their popular Enchanted Garden summer event, willow sculptures of dragons, unicorns, fairies and boggarts are given a Christmas makeover as they’re illuminated with sparkling lights. You can also explore the garden’s follies, sculptures, statues and winding paths as Christmas trees and glowing stars light your way, making a great evening for all the family.
You can enjoy a delicious marshmallow-topped hot chocolate or cup of mulled wine, and shop for locally sourced gifts and produce from the garden. And dogs on short leads are welcome.
Open on selected evenings from 7 December 2023–6 January 2024. Entry £15 adults/£8 children aged 4–16 years (advance booking required).
Christmas light trails near the Cotswolds
As well as the five Christmas light trails in the Cotswolds, there are also a couple of festive trails which are being held just outside the region and would make an easy day trip.
Christmas at Longleat
The Festival of Light annual winter lantern spectacular takes place at Longleat Safari Park near Frome. 2023’s theme is Treasured Tales, with hundreds of lanterns decorating the grounds. They feature characters and scenes from much-loved classic children’s books, including The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Cinderella, Snow White, The Wizard of Oz and Winnie the Pooh.
As well as the lanterns there are projections lighting up the historic frontage of Longleat House and a 20-metre Enchanted Christmas Tree that serenades visitors in the Stable Yard.
You can also upgrade your ticket to add in a winter safari drive-through where you can meet some of the park’s animal residents. Or add on the Santa Train, which departs from Longleat Central Station and transports kids to a magical grotto where they can meet Father Christmas.
Open on selected evenings from 11 November 2023–7 January 2024. Entry £29.95 adults/£22.45 children under 18 (advance booking required). There are also some off-peak tickets in November and early December for £24.95/£18.70. Winter safari and Santa train at extra cost.
Malvern Winter Glow
Winter Glow at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern combines multiple festive events in one, including an Illuminated Light Trail. This year’s theme sees Jingle the Elf on a quest to capture the magical Golden Snowflake and bring it back to the North Pole in time for Christmas.
The trail is one of the longest in the region, and features brand-new light installations this year, created by local creative artists, craftspeople and lighting designers. And if you want to bring your pooch along, there are special dog-friendly sessions on 11, 12 and 28 December 2023.
As well as the light trail, there’s also a Christmas market and plenty to eat and drink, with street food stalls in the Festive Food Quarter, an Ice Café and Jingle’s Winter Bar. You can also add on a personalised Santa’s Grotto experience, ice skating and fairground rides.
Open on selected evenings from 24 November 2023–6 January 2024. Entry £18–£24 adults and £9–£12 children under 16, depending on the day of the week (pre-booking advised). Discounts are available if you book before 1 November. Santa’s Grotto and ice skating at extra cost.
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