17 best Christmas lights, garden illuminations and festive events in the UK for 2021

·9-min read
Photo credit: Various
Photo credit: Various

Visit a UK town, city, country park or garden near you to see some of the best Christmas light events in London and the UK in 2021, including festive garden illuminations, markets, Christmas lights, carols and more.

It might be cold outside, but visiting historic UK gardens at night, at Christmas, offers an opportunity to explore rarely seen nocturnal beauty – especially when the landscapes are lit up with vistas of ethereal, magical white light or dramatic colours sweeping across the blackness. Intensely memorable, these are trails that bring the Christmas season vividly alive.

Alternatively, there are a range of town and city Christmas light displays going ahead this year for the whole family to enjoy, as well as indoor events for those who would prefer not to brave the cold.

Find below some of the best Christmas light experiences in 2021 and read our checklist of things to remember ahead of booking:

  • Remember to book early as admissions may be limited or have timed entry.

  • Most Christmas light garden trails are around one mile and follow set routes, but you can take as long as you like to enjoy the displays.

  • Wrap up warm and much needed hot drinks can usually be purchased along the way.

  • Be on time, otherwise you may miss your slot and admittance cannot then be guaranteed.

  • For indoor events, check pandemic guidelines before you visit and don't forget your face mask.

  • Monitor government guidelines between booking and attendance and note any changes.

1. Luminate Sandringham: 12th November– 19th December 2021

Up on the North Norfolk coast, Sandringham’s woodland becomes an enchanted wonderland as trails of white lights guide you through the trees, broken with splashes of brilliant colour amid the glades. You might even find yourself hunting for fairies, or watching waterfalls of colour descending from the tree tops. Make a wish, or try some interactive music making footprints.

Tickets from Adults £16.50 Child (3-15) £11.50 Family £52

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Photo credit: Blenheim Palace
Photo credit: Blenheim Palace

2. Christmas at Blenheim, Woodstock: 19th November 2021 – 2nd January 2022

Explore Blenheim Palace as you have never seen it before. Wander through spectacular gardens illuminated by over one million lights. Stroll through tunnels of light, visit flickering flame like glades and then warm up with a visit into the Palace rooms transformed into the world of The Nutcracker complete with unexpected delights from a music box. Don’t forget the delights of the Christmas Market located close to the Palace.

Combined tickets from: Adult £50 Concession £48.50. Child (age 3-16) £30. Family £140 (2 adults, 2 children) Parking £10

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3. Stourhead: 26th November 2021 – 2nd January 2022

Palladian temples, hidden grottos, lakes and meandering paths take on a totally new look with tree canopies drenched in colour and giant baubles, glowing flowers and glittering snowflakes or wrapped in constantly changing ribbons of colour. Lasers throw beams of light across the sky, and while reflections dance to music within the dark waters of the lakes.

Tickets from Adults £20, Child £14.00, Family £66 (2 adults 2 children), free entry for carers and children aged 2 & under. Parking £8 per car free for National Trust members when booked in advance.

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Photo credit: Richard Haughton
Photo credit: Richard Haughton

4. Windsor Great Park: 18th November 2021 – 9th January 2022

Dancing stars, tunnels of light and fountains of flowers turn Windsor Great Park into an amazing breathtaking woodland world. Holograms of mythical creatures hide among the trees, and a dreamlike laser-scape turns glades and paths into a mythical wonderland.

Tickets from Adult £21.45, Child £13.20, Family £62.70

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Photo credit: Michael Clemens
Photo credit: Michael Clemens

5. Helmingham Hall Gardens: 19th November – 19th December 2021

Cross the drawbridge and enjoy mulled wine in the courtyard at the lovely 500 year old Helmingham Hall, before continuing on your way through walled gardens bedecked with shimmering lights. Stop off to toast marshmallows at the fire pits, and discover bare branches of fruit trees stretching out against the dark sky. Elsewhere eyecatching trees highlighted in shades of green, gold and purple add a touch of mystery to the gorgeous surroundings.

Tickets from Adults £13.00 Children (5-15) £9.00, Family £39.00

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6. Christmas at Kew, Richmond: 17th November 2021 – 9th January 2022

You don’t need to travel to the far north to experience the Åurea Borealis this Christmas – instead head for Kew Gardens. An amazing sound and light installation in the Holly Walk sets out to replicate this highly visual, natural phenomena. Flickering flames enhance a Fire Garden creating unexpected images amid the natural beauty of Kew Gardens; elsewhere in the gardens botanical illustrations are brought to life. Discover singing neon trees, and admire a fifteen metre wide dome of light sitting on a reflective water pool and a vibrant rainbow tree highlighting the twelve days of Christmas.

Tickets from Adult £21.50, child £14, family £65. Entrances at Victoria Gate, Brentford Gate and Lion Gate.

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7. Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire: 26th November 2021 – 9th January 2022

Cross a light filled bridge leading to rivers of grass and thousands of lights dotted among the trees at Trentham Gardens. Cold white, cyan and green blue lighting illuminate the pretty Italianate garden while three large origami ships float on the mile long lake. Equally mesmerizing are the flying fairies, King Frost and the Arbora borealis, a giant tree festooned with kinetic strings like a kaleidoscopic weeping willow and secret three dimensional laser garden.

Tickets from Adults £19.50 Child £13 Family £58

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8. Margam Country Park

Encounter dragons, fairies and wizards as well as Old Grandfather Tree along this enchanted trail through the gardens of Margam Country Park, crossing the Waterfall bridge before reaching the castle itself. Watch changing images constantly illuminating the walls, sparkling across the façade and ground. Leave your wishes on the wishing tree and avoid the waiting troll. There are lots of interactive light installations perfect for kids creating a captivating trail that all the family can enjoy.

Tickets from £17.00 Adult, £13.00 Child (aged 3-15), Family £56

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9. Lightopia Palace of Light, Crystal Palace, South London: 19th November 2021 – 2nd January 2022

Giant wings unfurl out of the water heralding the awe inspiring arrival of angels ascending into the night sky at Lightopia’s Palace of Light. Butterflies flit through fields, and a rainbow road of flowers encourages further exploration. There are countless magical animals and a spellbinding giant 10 metre long phoenix set on 50,000 sq ft of lights. The well loved Crystal Palace dinosaurs are joined by various animatronic and digitally projected companions while the Crystal Palace itself is reborn in light. Crossing through parkland and gardens, this is Crystal Palace as you have never seen it before.

Tickets from £19.50 Adult, £13 Child (aged 3-15) £58 Family

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Photo credit: Lightopia Crystal Palace
Photo credit: Lightopia Crystal Palace

10. Chatsworth House, Bakewell - Various dates December 2021 to January 2022

Step into an enchanting winter wonderland at Chatsworth House this Christmas. The house will be full of festivity throughout the season:

  • Christmas at Chatsworth – 6th November to 9th January 2022

  • Festive illuminated walk – 6th November 2021 to 9th January 2022

  • Christmas market – 6th November to 24th November 2021

  • Storytime with Father Christmas – Saturday & Sunday – 27th November to 19th December 2021

  • Late night shopping at the estate farm shop – Open until 8pm – 16th December – 17th December 2021

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11. The Snowman brought to life - Various dates and locations in December

Experience the magic of The Snowman film brought to life with a big screen and live orchestra at various venues up and down the country.

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Photo credit: Gandee Vasan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Gandee Vasan - Getty Images

12. Christmas at the Eden Project, Cornwall - Selected dates from 3rd to 30th December 2021

Meet Father Christmas, go ice skating, watch live storytelling and explore the rainforest at twilight at the Eden Project this Christmas. Expect a twinkling Med Biome and a Big Band playing seasonal favourites.

Music and lights from 5-8pm.

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Photo credit: Handout / Handout - Getty Images
Photo credit: Handout / Handout - Getty Images

13. Mousehole Harbour Christmas lights, Cornwall - Mid December 2021

There will be no switch on event at Mousehole Harbour this year for pandemic reasons but the lights will still be erected as usual. The website reads: "A “Soft Switch On” will be followed instead, whereby the various displays in and around the village will be lit as and when they are ready. It is anticipated that all displays will be completed and lit by mid-December."

7,000 lights will illuminate the harbour. The lights were first started in 1963 by local artist Joan Gillchrest who strung up some coloured bulbs along the quay to make it look more festive at Christmas. Since then local carpenters and volunteers have helped build the display, and now it is a delight for residents and an attraction for visitors far and wide.

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14. Waddesdon Manor 'Winter Light' event, Buckinghamshire - 13th November 2021 – 3rd January 2022

Waddesdon has many connections to the world of music and, this Christmas, visitors will be welcomed by the smell of pine and the sound of classic carols as they step into decorated rooms inspired by traditional tunes and memorable Christmas hits. Once inside, visitors will be greeted by the glowing colours of illuminated manuscripts and a sparkling 15ft fir tree, while the familiar tune of ‘O Christmas Tree’fills the air.

Sat 13 Nov – Thur 23 Dec, 12-7pm. Mon 27 Dec – Mon 3 Jan 2022, 2-9pm. Wed-Sun.

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15. Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire - Selected dates, 26th November to 21st December 2021

Follow a mile-long trail through trees lit by festive lights (top and above). During your walk you may meet Father Christmas in his grotto and a Christmas character walking on stilts. For children there are Christmas craft activities at the end of the trail and a carousel to complete the winter delight. Roasted chestnuts, toasted marshmallows and mulled wine are on hand for the trail and on various dates during the festive season, local choirs come to provide additional entertainment.

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16. Carols by Candlelight, Royal Albert Hall - Various dates December 2021

Little makes us feel more Christmassy than singing carols in the truly mesmerising Royal Albert Hall this Christmas.

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Photo credit: Jamie Grill - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jamie Grill - Getty Images

17. Belton House, Lincolnshire: 4th December 2021 to 3rd January 2022

Belton House will host a range of festivities, including illuminations, market and carols.

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Photo credit: Brian Lawrence - Getty Images
Photo credit: Brian Lawrence - Getty Images

Join us for a Country Living Christmas!

This year, we have three exciting Christmas fairs in London, Glasgow and Harrogate.

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