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7 Dazzling illuminated gardens to visit this winter

7 Dazzling illuminated gardens to visit this winter
Visiting an illuminated garden is the perfect activity for winter evenings in the run up to Christmas. Here are some of the best enchanted gardens around the UK
Dark cold winter nights are increasingly providing opportunities to explore woods and gardens in a very different way. Magical, ethereal white trails illuminate pathways, cascades of changing colours sweep down trees and vistas are illuminated by rivers of light.
Light sculptures catch attention—giant dandelions seemingly emerge from the ground or chandeliers hang from trees.
Mysterious shadows appear amid the play of light and shade on trees and shrubs, giant lollipops emerge from flowers and children eagerly hunt for tiny illuminated fairies hidden in the undergrowth.
Intensely memorable, these are trails that are attracting visitors to gardens nationwide—from Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens to the lanterns and nature of Heligan.
Intricate tapestry designs weave across the façade of Hardwick Hall, oversized lampshades dangle from trees at Leeds Castle while gigantic lilies and snowdrops adorn Roundhay Park, Leeds.
We take a look at some of these stunning gardens—but remember to book early as admissions may be limited or have timed entry. Wrap up warm, and take as long as you like around the marked trails.

Sandringham, Norfolk

Sandringham's illuminated garden features an immersive tunnel of lights
Delicate lines of white lights lead the way into a magical woodland wonderland. Shades of green, violet and pink cascade down from trees as music gently plays in the background.
A great river of light tumbles down towards Sandringham House and delicate fairies flit among tree roots. Arcs of light suddenly appear and disappear, while a tunnel of luminous globes beckons walkers on to discover yet more delights.
November, 11–December, 18

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

The Northern Lights come to Oxfordshire in this captivating light installation at Blenheim Palace
Renowned for its delicate rose garden and majestic water terraces, Blenheim in the winter becomes a glowing, colourful light display.
Over one million lights transform the gardens into flickering tunnels, flame-like glades, swarms of butterflies and a stunning recreation of the Aurora Borealis lights up the horizon.
Watch a supernova come to life with smoke and lights emanating from the star as it awakens. Trees are drenched with jewel-like colour and reflections dance across lakesides.
November, 18–January, 2

Kew Gardens, London

Wander beneath colourful canopies and past sparkling bushes to see floating feathers appear from nowhere, luminous poppies cling to branches high above the ground, watch water formed by light flowing into an unknown abyss, or discover the fairy light splendour of Kew’s Christmas Cathedral.
This is Kew as you have never seen it before.
November, 16–January, 8

Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire

Waddesdon’s extraordinary 19th-century-style landscape is accentuated by a musical light show complete with giant colour-changing butterflies, four-metre-high dandelions, a cascading field of flames and an immersive laser field complete with smoke effects.
Over 5,000 lights transform the pretty Daffodil Valley into a glittering blanket that changes into a sea of animation set to music, while surrounding trees are colour washed dynamically in time to the music.
Elsewhere the grandeur of the manor’s interior is highlighted by dramatic, colour-changing chandeliers suspended among tree branches.
November, 12–January, 22

Margam Park, South Wales

Pure enchantment is promised in this meandering trail across the Waterfall Bridge, past a castle and through the extensive formal gardens.
Walk through glowing tunnels of light turning flowerbeds and shrubs into mysterious, otherworldly creations. Discover Old Grandfather tree, dragons, fairies and wizards before watching a stunning light show of changing images across the castle’s façade.
Interactive activities such as pressure pads that light up and play a tune when you tread on them add extra fun.
November, 17–January, 2

Helmingham, Hall Suffolk

During the summer, these traditional gardens created by Chelsea Gold Medal winner Lady Tollemache are a blaze of colour. Come winter, they take on a very different ambiance.
Move from one theme to another as you walk through the shimmering lights, and expect the unexpected. Lights trickle down topiary shapes. Upturned umbrellas and wellies take on a very different appearance amid the herbs, while a kingdom of sweets appears among the woodland.
Stop off for mulled wine round the giant Christmas tree in the courtyard. Eye-catching trees illuminated in shades of green, gold and purple create a sense of mystery, where you never know just what to find round the next magical corner.
November, 19–December, 18

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

Light and water dance together in this beautiful installation at Chatsworth House
Loki, the mischievous, shape-shifting Nordic god rules this Christmas at Chatsworth along with enchanting folk tales from distant northern countries where bears and reindeer roam pine forests and snow-covered countryside.
Trees take on a fantastical, mythical appearance, as though Nordic gods could appear at any moment.   
Enter a mysterious world reminiscent of the frozen north within the rock garden and watch the Northern Lights recreated over the Canal Pond, wands of light lighting up the historic maze.
Flickering white lights outline the formal gardens surrounding the house, while brilliant red trees contrast against the grand cascade, which seems almost locked in a golden frost. This is truly the realm of Loki!
November, 5–January, 8
Banner image copyright: John Morton, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr
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