Looking to make your Christmas a real cracker? Why not take the family or the one you love to one of the UK’s wonderful light displays to dazzle and inspire. One of the very best things to do in the build-up to Christmas is to go and see festive light displays. There’s nothing quite like seeing imaginative and colourful light shows that brighten up the dark winter nights.
Wherever in the UK you live or if you’re just visiting, Christmas light displays are becoming more and more popular in Britain by the year. If you’re keen to see some mesmerising Christmas lights that will really get you into the festive spirit, here’s a guide to some of the top ones the UK has to offer.
Country Cottages Online’s Pick of the Best Places to See Christmas Lights
1. Magical Lantern Festival London
Now in its third year, the Magical Lantern Festival London sees the gardens of Chiswick House transformed into a fanciful display of larger-than-life festive lanterns that light up the night. While here, you can pick up lots of food, drink and souvenirs, while younger ones can meet Santa at his grotto. Explore the Lantern Trail and see huge winter-themed lanterns of things such as penguins, snowmen, reindeer and many more.
2. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Up in bonny Scotland, once night has fallen, you can visit the Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden and explore a mile-long illuminated trail. See the garden’s many beautiful displays and abundant plant life lit up in an assortment of colours. Festive food and drinks, including mulled wine, spiced cider, toasted marshmallows and roasted chestnuts, are all on sale and there’s even a visiting Santa ready to meet younger ones. A highlight is the Fire Garden, whose plants give off all sorts of soothing scents.
3. Mousehole, Cornwall
This unassuming fishing village in Cornwall is well known for its inventive and enchanting Christmas lights display. What makes the display at Mousehole particularly appealing is the fact that it isn’t as popular as others, so should you choose to visit it, you won’t have to brave the crowds as much as in places like London, for example. The lights brighten up the village and there are even floating displays out on the harbour waters lighting up the boats.
4. Norwich Christmas Lights
The city of Norwich really goes all out for its Christmas celebrations, with plenty of dazzling lights to behold. One of its most popular attractions is the Tunnel of Light, which was the first of its kind in the UK when it opened in 2016. Stretching for 45 metres, it’s four metres high and six metres wide, with its 50,000 lights putting on a fantastic light show inspired by the Northern Lights. There are also festive short films and images projected on to Norwich Castle, as well as a lively Christmas market offering all sorts of treats and gifts.
5. Kew Gardens, London
Located in southwest London, Kew Gardens is a World Heritage Site and one of the city’s top attractions. Its herbarium is among the largest in the world and the gardens are home to over 30,000 different plant species. Christmas at Kew sees the gardens transform into a dazzling light display, with over a million lights across the grounds illuminating plants and buildings alike. Children can meet Santa and everyone can enjoy festive treats to keep them warm as they explore the mile-long trail that takes you past the lake, which even has underwater lights brightening it up.
6. Glasgow Christmas Lights
Every November in Glasgow’s George Square, the city’s Christmas lights are switched on, with the area given a cheery festive makeover. When the sun goes down, the square becomes a winter wonderland, complete with a bustling Christmas market, a traditional carousel, lively street entertainment and even a big wheel, enabling you to observe the light show from more than 100 feet up in the air.
7. Oxford Street Christmas Lights, London
Oxford Street gets transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland every year when its famous street lights get turned on. Now in its 58th year, the display brightens up the popular shopping street and its switch-on is so anticipated that up to a million people are thought to attend. This year’s display features some 750,000 LED lightbulbs and no fewer than 1,778 decorations! The lights are certainly a sight worth taking in while doing some Christmas shopping.
8. Christmas Adventure, Stockeld Park
Located just outside of Wetherby in Yorkshire, Stockeld Park is a fantastic place to enjoy family-friendly Christmas entertainment in the run-up to the big day. There are lots of exciting activities available here, including an ice rink, a Nordic ski trail three-quarters of a mile in length and, specially for the children, a Santa’s grotto and several adventure playgrounds. Fans of Christmas lights will certainly not be disappointed, as the park’s Enchanted Forest is lit up with countless lights and a variety of illuminated sculptures. There’s also a maze, which features over two miles of paths and is the only maze in Yorkshire to light up.
9. Manchester Christmas Lights
The switch-on for Manchester’s Christmas lights is a huge affair, attracting several thousands of spectators and a string of celebrity performers. This year saw DJ Sigala, singer Pixie Lott and the cast of Elf: The Musical took to the stage to celebrate the turning on of the lights. The lights brighten up the city’s Albert Square and its town hall, not to mention the hugely popular European Christmas market that fills the square. While taking in the sights of the lights, be sure to make the most of the market, whose stalls have all sorts of food and souvenirs from throughout the continent available to buy.
10. Regent Street Christmas Lights, London
Another popular London shopping street that hosts a stunning Christmas lights display every year. Regent Street’s display is the one of largest in the capital and features hundreds of thousands of twinkling LED lights in all sorts of bright and festive colours lighting up the street. The display’s switch-on was a star-studded event, with Paloma Faith, Emma Bunton, Clean Bandit, Michael and Alfie Bow all taking part.
Know of some more dazzling light displays that you’d recommend? Let us know your suggestions and may be they will make our Top 10 next year. Wherever you choose to visit this festive season we hope you have a very merry time. If you are looking to getaway this Christmas, see our Christmas Cottages page for more ideas and inspiration.