Dazzling festive illuminations to visit this winter

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Here are six glorious ways to brighten your winter with warmth and colour, from bonfires to festive illuminations

From festive light trails in Dorset to spectacular fireworks displays in Durham, there’s a myriad of exciting illuminations happening across the UK this festive season.

Your expert: A senior editor on The Telegraph’s travel desk, Hazel Plush also finds time to write engaging copy for publications from Wanderlust to the Independent.

Festive light trails 

kingston light trail

Kingston Lacy was built to impress, and at Christmas this Dorset estate pulls out all the stops, with over a million festive lights, including illuminated tunnels, glowing trees and dazzling decorations. 2–4 and 7–24 Dec, nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy 

At Margam Country Park in South Wales, you can follow a captivating mile long Winter Light Trail with installations and interactive elements. 17 Nov–2 Jan excl 25 Dec, luminate.live 

The magnificent Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland’s only royal residence, will also be aglow with light tunnels and giant baubles, alongside a flame-filled ‘fire garden’. 1 Dec–1 Jan excl 5, 6 and 25 Dec, hrp.org.uk/hillsborough-castle

Fairytale worlds 

castle howard light trail

Step into the stories of Roald Dahl at Wiltshire’s Longleat this winter, courtesy of its literary-themed Festival of Light. Amid hundreds of lanterns, you’ll meet the huge BFG, visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and encounter James’s Giant Peach, alongside Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits, Matilda and more. 5 Nov–8 Jan, longleat.co.uk 

In Oxfordshire, Blenheim Palace will be transformed into the Snow Queen’s glittering kingdom, its exquisite interiors festooned with faux icicles, snowflakes and frost, with a storytelling scene in each room. It’s entirely indoors so you can explore in comfort, before venturing outside to explore the garden’s light trail, food stalls and craft market. 18 Nov–2 Jan, blenheimpalace.com 

For more fairytale magic, Castle Howard presents ‘Into the Woods’, an immersive theatrical experience in its main house featuring horse-drawn pumpkins, glass slippers and enchanted forests. Spellbinding stuff! 12 Nov–2 Jan, castlehoward.co.uk

Illuminated cities 

bute park light show

Bathed in vibrant projections, lanterns and fairy lights, Edinburgh Castle will be reimagined as the ‘Kingdom of Colours’ this winter, casting a rainbow glow over Scotland’s capital – with battlements blazing and turrets twinkling. On 8 December there will be a supported evening for those with special access needs, such as dementia and autism. Selected dates from 18 Nov–30 Dec, edinburghcastle.scot 

Cardiff’s Bute Park, just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, will also be decked out with lasers, sculptures and a gleaming ‘light canyon’. Along the trail, look out for food and drink stalls serving locally produced winter warmers, too. 1 Dec–1 Jan, christmasatbutepark.com 

With the city’s ‘dreaming spires’ as its backdrop, the Oxford Christmas Lights Festival offers glorious illuminations in hubs around the city’s communities, featuring activities created with and by residents, families and schools. 18–20 Nov, oxlightfest.com

Bonfire gatherings

bonfire gathering

On Guy Fawkes night, the tranquil Sussex town of Lewes transforms into a blazing spectacle of towering bonfires, marching bands and fireworks for a centuries-old celebration. 5 Nov, lewesbonfirecelebrations.com 

Hauling barrels of burning tar on their backs, residents of Ottery St Mary in Devon also celebrate in hair-raising style, alongside a bonfire and funfair. 5 Nov, tarbarrels.co.uk 

When midnight bells chime, residents of Stonehaven whirl flaming fireballs through the streets, in one of Scotland’s most dramatic Hogmanay customs. Expect fireworks, drummers and pipers, too. 31 Dec, stonehavenfireballs.co.uk

Wild wonders

kew light show

With thousands of lights and hundreds of garlands, Boundless’s Whitemead Forest Park is a festive delight – but for extra sparkle, hop aboard Perrygrove Railway’s Twilight Express, too. Just two miles from Whitemead, this light-decked train weaves through an illuminated woodland, stopping off for hot chocolate and a magical meeting with Santa. Festive fun for all the family, and it’s wheelchair accessible. 18 dates between 1 and 23 Dec, perrygrove.co.uk 

Meanwhile, just a short walk from Boundless’s West Cliff Hotel in Bournemouth, the free Christmas Tree Wonderland brings Christmas sparkle to the seaside. Its seasonal diversions include a light-filled trail, outdoor ice rink, Christmas market, alpine lodge-style bar and huge walk-through ‘wonderland tree’. 18 Nov–2 Jan, christmastreewonderland.co.uk 

And even after dark, Britain’s botanical gardens are full of wild wow-factor, from the lakeside twinklers of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to the lustrous trails through London’s Kew Gardens. 17 Nov–30 Dec, rbge.org.uk; selected dates between 16 Nov and 8 Jan, kew.org

Do more with Boundless

December breaks at Bournemouth West Cliff hotel 

If you need somewhere to base yourself in the area, or just fancy spending the festive season somewhere different, there are lots of great Christmas activities close to the hotel. Members save 20%. boundless.co.uk/Westcliff

Save 20% on Christmas stays at Whitemead Forest Park 

There’s a range of December breaks available – whichever you choose, you can enjoy forest walks, visits to Santa’s grotto and free tickets to this year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington. boundless.co.uk/whitemeadforestpark

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