Top Christmas Illuminations in the UK
In the darkest December days of the year, nothing brings more cheer than a Christmas illumination. From the humblest Christmas tree fairy light or household display to a full-scale illuminated high street; lights and Christmas go hand in hand.
All over the UK, towns and cities have their own ‘switch on’ ceremonies and many British institutions have begun to host their own special Christmas illuminations. With so much choice, it’s hard to know which festive light show you and your loved ones should attend. So, we’ve comprised this list of some of the top Christmas lights in the UK, so you too can enjoy the best of this sparkling tradition.
Kew Gardens, London
Arguably a place of beauty any time of the year, Kew Gardens during Christmas is truly a sight to behold. The tradition of the Kew Gardens Christmas illuminations is now heading into its seventh year and only continues to surprise and delight Yuletide visitors. A mile-long trail through the gardens shows many of the ancient trees, canopies and bushes lit with ribbons of light, enchanting those who pass through. Nearly 2,000 swaying flowers also create a floral radiance that can be seen nowhere else this time of the year. The pièce de résistance of the entire show is the Palm House Pond light show, where beams of light dance across the water to a chorus of Christmas songs.
‘Tunnel of Light’, Norwich
For Christmas revelers in the East Anglia region, Norwich’s ‘Tunnel of Light’ is not to be missed. This alternative Christmas light display will have your jaw dropping, and your eyes twinkling. 50,000 pulsating LED lights illuminate this 45-meter long tunnel, surrounding viewers in a sea of light. The tunnel is designed to replicate the sight and color of the Northern Lights and will delight both young and old with its awe-inspiring display. The city also projects Christmas films onto Norwich Castle, completing the magical festive feel.
‘Festival of Light’, Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire
One of the Southwest’s top Christmas illuminations must be the Festival of Light at Longleat Safari Park. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, the park is pulling out all the stops in honor of this occasion. The park seamlessly combines the traditional Christmas illuminations with its own wildlife twist. These include the giant animal-shaped lanterns that take the form of monkeys and lions. The park also displays a 20-foot high cake and an illuminated Christmas scene which includes 30,000 bulbs and two and a half miles of LED lighting. This is must-see for lovers of both the zoo and festive illuminations.
‘Christmas Glow’, RHS Wisley, Surrey
The Royal Horticultural Society in Surrey might not be the first place you think of when looking for a Christmas illumination this December, but think again! Walk through some of the RHC’s most iconic liquidambar, giant redwood, and pine trees, all illuminated in the most eye-widening lights and colors. The famous glasshouse is dressed in lights that portray it as a gingerbread house, complete with festive plants such as poinsettias, Christmas cacti and bromeliads. The lantern adorned lake leads to Santa and Mrs. Claus’s grotto, completing the Christmas wonderland feel. This is the ideal Christmas illumination to visit for those who wish to combine the festive with the quintessential English garden.
Carnaby Street, London
One of the capital’s most famous thoroughfares, Carnaby Street, has continued to outshine all others when it comes to London’s Christmas illuminations. Each year the street’s show runs with a certain theme, and each one has delighted both London locals and tourists alike. This year Carnaby Street has hooked up with the charity Project Zero to create an illumination that promotes the preservation of the world’s oceans. All materials used to create this underwater delight have been upcycled from reusable material. Those with an eco-conscious mindset can be safe in the knowledge that this is one light display that has the planet at its heart.
This article was originally published in December 2019 . It was last updated in January 2020