Twinkling lights, cold winter nights, and time with your family or friends. These make light trails a must-visit event in the run-up to the festive season.
To kids, the spectacular visual effects and tunnels of light are truly magical. For grown-ups, light trails are great places to spend an evening with your mates or significant other. Romantic and enchanting, these events capture the fairy tale of Christmas.
With so many to choose from across the UK, you can enjoy a spectacular illuminated trail full of festive spirit wherever you live. Here is a list of the best advice on getting to them by train.
Where can you visit light trails in the UK?
There are light trails running across the UK during the winter season.
Light trails are events with illuminated paths in outdoor spaces that groups of visitors can explore at night. Some of these events will also have live music, food and drink stalls or activities for children.
This makes them a great option for a winter evening out. Little ones can experience the magic of Christmas. Groups of friends or colleagues can enjoy an alternative night out. Or you and your loved one can spend quality time on a romantic walk.
Typically, these events run from November through to January. Some are also accessible by train, including events at:
- Blenheim Palace
- Windsor Park
- Canary Wharf
- Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
- Walton Gardens, Warrington
- Wembley Park
Wrap up warm, gather together the people you love, and go on an enchanting journey through lanterns and light shows this winter.
What are the best light trails in the UK?
If you’re looking for a fun and alternative Christmas event, visiting a light trail is a great option. In no particular order, here are some of the best and most accessible winter light trails in the UK.
Blenheim Palace (17 Nov 2023 to 1 Jan 2024)
Blenheim Palace Light Trail has to be on every Oxford family’s to-do list. You can gaze in wonder at the fire garden, visit Santa and browse festive gifts at the buzzing Christmas market.
Taking around one hour and 30 minutes to explore, this year’s trail theme is the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty. To visit this magical experience, you’ll need to book a time slot in advance.
Windsor Illuminations (16 Nov 2023 to 2 Jan 2024)
Experience the magic and delight of the woods at Windsor Great Park Illuminated. This stunning location becomes even more amazing with the special installations and light shows.
Open from 16:30 to 20:00 every day, family tickets are also available. Booking in advance is advised.
Canary Wharf (18 to 28 Jan 2024)
The Canary Wharf Winter Lights event is a little different to the others, as it runs after Christmas. It’s no less enchanting, though. With award-winning installations and attractions made by international artists, it’s free to attend from 17:00 to 22:00 each day.
Simply download the app and take a wander before warming up in a nearby bar or restaurant. Set in London’s heart, this light trail is the perfect pick-me-up as you enter the New Year.
Wembley Park (2 Dec 2023 to 2 Jan 2024)
Wembley Park will have it all this winter, hosting an array of festive activities set against the backdrop of the world-famous Wembley Stadium. The neighbourhood will transform for a whole month, featuring market stalls, live music, events, and stunning illuminations.
The headline attraction is the The Luminaze, a brand new, light-based, walkthrough art installation that will wow visitors of all ages. Free to enter, and open from 10:00 to 21:00 each day, the light trail will be located off the iconic Olympic Way.
Edinburgh Botanic Garden (16 Nov to 30 Dec 2023)
Scotland’s capital knows how to put on a show around Christmas and New Year. So of course, they will also have one of the most spectacular light trails too.
Make your way to The Botanic Garden and delight in this 360-degree illumination experience. Brightening up this botanical world after dark, the event is open from 16:30 to 20:00 and you need to book a time slot in advance.
National Botanic Garden of Wales (29 Nov to 24 Dec 2023)
Found in Carmarthenshire, about 16 km north of Llanelli, is one of the jewels of South Wales. The National Botanic Garden is probably best known for its huge glass dome, but its Christmas event is just as sparkling.
This mile-long walk gives you the rare opportunity to explore the gardens at night. Open from 16:30 to 20:00 each day, it’ll take around one hour and 30 minutes to enjoy all the light shows here.
If the kids start getting achy feet, why not stop off at one of the marshmallow stations to do some toasting?
Luminate Cheshire (30 Nov to 24 Dec 2023)
Located in the beautiful Walton Gardens, Luminate Cheshire is a special Christmas event. Toast marshmallows in fire pits, view stunning lighting elements and expect smiles galore as you wander.
This magnificent sensory experience is open from 16:30 to 20:00 every day and tickets need to be pre-booked.
Dunham Massey (17 Nov to 31 Dec 2023)
Spend an hour or two wandering among the trees as you’re treated to a light and sound spectacle. A highlight is the light show across the lake accompanied by spectacular projections on to the 19th-century stately home.
Luminate Birmingham (25 Nov 2023 to 2 Jan 2024)
If you’re looking for light trails in Birmingham, the Botanical Gardens in leafy Edgbaston is a must-visit location. The designers weave a captivating light path around the trees, with fabulous light playing in the branches and on the ground.
It’s simply enchanting and open from 16:30 to 20:00 every day.
Bristol Light Festival (2 to 11 Feb 2024)
You don’t even have to leave the city to enjoy the Bristol Light Festival. It’s a showcase of brilliant nocturnal displays dotted around the city centre. This free event is the perfect opportunity to enjoy Bristol’s quirky character in a whole new light.
Running for two weekends in February 2024, simply download the map and enjoy a relaxed evening out with your family or friends.
Visiting light trails by train with Avanti
Whether you’re banishing the January blues at Canary Wharf or visiting a winter event at a National Trust or English Heritage property. You can get there with Avanti West Coast. Travelling by train means you don’t have to worry about parking and can enjoy a mulled wine or two on your magical evening out.
Plus, if you’re visiting with your family or as a group, you can save with joint tickets. You can also get a discount on your fare with a Railcard. Embrace the excitement of the festive season early and book your light trail event and train ticket in advance.