Local coronavirus restrictions may cause temporarily closures, reduced opening hours or require advance booking – please check attraction websites for most up-to-date information.
Add a touch of sparkle to the festive season this year with a Cotswolds Christmas light trail. With castles, forests and farms all draped in colourful lights, these light trails have become an annual Christmas tradition – and lots of fresh air and timed entry slots to keep people spaced out makes them perfect for 2020. So wrap up warm (and bring an umbrella just in case), grab a hot drink and explore one of these five fabulously festive Christmas light trails in the Cotswolds.
Read more: Christmas in the Cotswolds: 2020 guide
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 hosted kings and queens and was home to Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr, who’s buried in its church.
Sudeley has been running the Spectacle of Light since 2016, and each year there’s a different theme. For 2020 it’s based on the story of The Nutcracker. Follow Clara and the nutcrackers on a trail through the gardens, past sparkling water features, a flickering field of fire, colourfully lit trees and illuminated castle ruins, set to music to add to the atmosphere.
The light trail takes around 60-75 minutes to walk, and there are stalls selling festive food and drink on the castle terrace just after halfway (though it gets busy so prepare to queue).
Open on selected evenings from 4–30 December 2020. Entry £17 adults/£10.20 children under 15 (advance booking required).
Read more: Cotswold Christmas gift guide
Westonbirt Arboretum Enchanted Christmas
Westonbirt Arboretum 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 18,000 trees and shrubs across 800 acres – and somewhere in there is Father Christmas’ ‘West Pole’, his West Country workshop where the elves get all those presents made on time.
This year’s display takes you through the trees on a mission to track down the West Pole, with colourful trees, clever visual effects and interactive displays for kids. Along the way there’s talking trees, glittering disco balls and dancing elves – and keep an eye out for Father Christmas.
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’s no fairground this year but there are food and drink stalls along the way and in the Christmas village at the start and end.
Open on selected evenings from 4–22 December 2020. Entry £16 adults/£14 students/£8 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.
New installations this year including the Blue Neuron which is made from plastic bottles, the Heart of Stars which scatters tiny refracted beams across the path to the Rose Garden, and a scented fire garden. And of course there will be the return of the ever-popular (and highly Instagrammable) tunnel of light, created using over 100,000 tiny light bulbs.
If you want to add on a visit to the palace itself, you can experience a Traditional Blenheim Christmas on a tour around the staterooms to see sparkling Christmas trees and tables laid for a festive feast. There’s no Christmas market this year, but it will be back for 2021.
Open 4 December 2020–10 January 2021. Entry £21.50 adults/£15 children under 18, plus parking is an extra £10 (advance booking required). Palace tickets sold separately.
Cotswold Farm Park Enchanted Light Trail
New for 2020 is the Enchanted Light Trail at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park. The park is open after hours for the first time 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 and sound.
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 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 made by local crafters.
Open 3 December 2020–1 January 2021. Entry £19.50 adults/£15 seniors/£14.50 children aged 4–15, £7.50 children under 3 (advance booking required).
Land of Light at Longleat
This year, Longleat is swapping its usual Festival of Light winter lantern spectacular for a new Land of Light event. Seven different zones have been created across the safari park and mansion grounds featuring interactive light installations. These innovative illuminated artworks combine synchronised light and sound to create a full-on festive experience.
Among the highlights are dancing fountains on Half Mile Lake, projections lighting up the historic frontage of Longleat House, a shimmering winter mirror maze and a walk through a sensory tunnel to the Longhouse for a 360° laser light show choreographed to music.
You can also upgrade to an all-in-one ticket to add on a winter safari and there are extra activities for kids including a trip on the Santa train and a storytelling session with the man himself.
Open on selected evenings from 3 December 2020–10 January 2021. Entry £27.95 adults/£20.95 children under 15 (advance booking required).