WITH so many exciting events competing for our space on our crowded social calendars at this time of the year, it helps to highlight those most worthy of our time – and money.
And ‘highlight’ is most appropriate here, for what’s being hailed the biggest Christmas celebration yet at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
The return of Blenheim’s popular Illuminated Trail has transformed the stately 18th-century palace – and UNESCO World Heritage site – into a veritable festive wonderland. Even for those familiar with the Capability Brown landscaped parkland, this spectacular trail shows it off in a while new light. (Pun intended!)
Stand-outs of the one-mile trail include a new multi-coloured aerial light show filling the sky with dancing bands of colour, a dynamic waterfall, and the softly-glowing flowers of the Snowdrop Walk.
In another installation inspired by nature, Australian studio Mandylights returns to Christmas at Blenheim Palace with Vines. A 30-metre long promenade of LED vines that you can walk through, touch and interact with, each vine houses up to 8,000 individual colour-changing pixels, making for an otherworldly immersive experience.
There’s over a million pea-lights, lasers and projections and the most atmospheric tree canopies drenched in seasonal colour and dripping with silvery shards of light, frosty snowflakes, stars and baubles.
And just when you think you’ve seen everything, you’ll also encounter the Sledge Tree, an 11-metre design structure made from 365 illuminated wooden sledges – apparently representing each day of the year. This fascinating piece of art, light and architecture reinterprets the classic Christmas Tree in Blenheim Palace’s ancient Parkland.
But, as with all good shows, there has to be a fitting finale and this is, again, where the Illuminated Trail does not disappoint with a wonderful light show projected onto the walls of the grand palace.
Persistent drizzle did its best to dampen the occasion of the evening, but to no avail. A truly mesmerising stroll through the Palace grounds that I would heartily recommend.
The festive experience doesn’t start and end with the trail however. There’s a new indoor Alice in the Palace experience taking over the ornate State Rooms during the day as well as an immersive Christmas Market in the Great Court – all adding to this incredible festive experience, running until January 5th.
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, visitors are invited to step between the pages of a larger-than-life story book and into their very own festive family adventure. While initially nervous about being unaccompanied by children for this particular visitor experience, my husband and I need not have worried. The spectacular displays and attention to detail proved a must for all ages – and something I’m glad I joined in with. And those with little ones will also appreciate the vintage Carousel and Helter Skelter in the courtyard.
A Christmas market added the perfect festive finale to our visit with some well-earned coffee and artisan cake following our (pleasant) hike along the Illuminated Trail.
A couple of notes though. . . if you arrive after 12pm there is a £10 parking tariff and on booking you will be allotted a time slot for the trail. This is done to quality control the experience, but you will need to plan your trip around it.
Prices, booking and further details available at: www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/illuminated-christmas-trail