The other week, I was kindly invited by Southampton Bloggers* to attend the opening night of the illuminated Christmas trail at Beaulieu Motor Museum.
This is the first year that Beaulieu has held such an event like this. It boasts a switch-on of over a million lights in the grounds of the New Forest attraction and is described as a “magical, after-dark illuminated trail”. The shimmering light trail is over a mile long and has over eleven individual instalments.
Having wanted to attend the Longleat Festival of Lights over the last couple of years, but never getting around to it, this was the perfect alternative for me. As I was given two complimentary tickets, I took Greg with me, but I also met up with Emma and very briefly saw Kristy, before making our way around the trail.
Upon arrival, you enter the attraction grounds through the main entrance. By following the path, you arrive at the cafe, cable cars, museum and the vintage fairground that they currently have there. There were adults and children alike on the fairground rides so don’t be put off going on them if you don’t have children with you. Although do be aware that there is an extra charge for them. The museum is closed though as the trail opens after standard opening hours.
If you carry on walking through these attractions, the trail starts with the mesmerising 200ft long Cathedral of Light, with a tunnel of 30,000 lights and the Canopy of Lights with over 20,000 twinkling pea-lights.
As you carry on through the trail, you will then approach the Fire Garden, situated in the Abbey Grounds. To me, this felt like it had the least Christmassy atmosphere as we know it as it had more of a Paganism impression which may not interest children as much. Nevertheless, it was very beautiful and tranquil which I very much enjoyed about it.
Once moving on, you will then walk through the rest of the abbey, and then end up approaching the Beaulieu Veteran Bus. Here, you will find Santa and his elves giving you some Christmas cheer. This would be a great place to stop for children that are eager to meet Santa. We walked straight passed as meeting Santa isn’t really something I’m young enough to get away with doing anymore.
Walking through the rest of the attractions, you will find that most of them are linked to some kind of fairytale theme, which includes Alice in Wonderland and The Nutcracker. Music is also played as you walk through which either has a Christmas theme or related to the attraction you’re currently walking through. As an example, you will experience a musical installation display of the Twelve Days of Christmas. There’s also the chance to add your Christmas wish to the Wishing Tree.
The beautiful Beaulieu Palace House has been brought to life by an array of beams of light that dance in time to much-loved Christmas classics. The trail then carries on through the Icicle Walk which includes its larger than life gleaming icicle shards, frosty snowflakes and shimmering stars. When you enter the Meadow of Light, be sure to look out for the fairies hiding amongst the trees!
The trail’s grand finale will come to a close with the huge conifer trees being lit up that display a cheerful Christmas blast of colour, sound and light.
It will take approximately an hour to walk around the trail but there is no time limit, so you are free to walk it at your own pace. You can complete your stroll, by visiting one of the food and drink stalls on offer and having a mulled wine, spiced cider or hot chocolate along with toasted marshmallows or roast chestnuts. Although if you do, be sure to take out cash either before you go or from the cashpoint in the entrance area as none of them takes card payments. If you fancy something a bit more substantial to eat then there’s the opportunity to dine in Beaulieu’s restaurant.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with Beaulieu’s Christmas lights and I would definitely recommend going. I think it’s been very well organised with families and young children in mind. The lights trail is running right through until December 24th, so it could be an ideal pre-Christmas/Christmas Eve treat for the family? Times vary on selected evenings of the week but finish no later than 8 pm, so it’s not too late for little ones!
You can buy tickets online in advance or on the door. Prices vary depending upon whether you order in advance or attend off-peak or on-peak days. For further information check out their website.
*Although I was gifted the tickets, all opinions are my own.
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