Jo Blair

Posted by Jo Blair on 17th Dec 2019 -- Read Time: 3 minutes

Christmas at Blenheim: the Illuminated Light Trail

As I have family living near to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, I couldn’t resist a festive visit to the annual Illuminated Light Trail at this spectacular, baroque stately home. Christmas at Blenheim is an event that incorporates several different elements, both inside and outside the palace. Each year, the rooms of the palace are decked out for Christmas with an elaborate theme suited to the grandeur of Blenheim; whereas outdoors, the grounds come alive thanks to the stunning light trail, a few Victorian-style fairground rides for the children, and a selection of charming Christmas market stalls. As I was visiting with my four young nephews aged between 4 – 9 years old, we didn’t go inside the palace on this occasion as we thought it would be best to let them run wild outside in the spacious grounds!

As my family live so close by, we walked to the palace, but it’s worth noting that the event is very well set up for the arrival of coach groups – coaches can drop off quite close to the beginning of the trail, which is almost entirely flat. There is no rush when wandering along the trail – everyone can go at their own pace. It’s a great destination for Christmas short breaks, as the lovely villages of the Cotswolds and the grand colleges of Oxford are not far away at all.

Before beginning the trail, we took a look at the stalls making up the Christmas market. There were plenty of stands well-stocked with Christmas food, snacks and drinks – it truly smelt like Christmas! The mulled wine was very good, and it was also excellent for keeping our hands warm whilst we explored the trail. The trail itself winds around the lake and through the lovely woodland of the estate, ending in the palace’s elegant formal gardens. The illuminations consist of thousands of lights, dynamic light shows, and a variety of art installations, and certain parts are accompanied by music. All of these elements come together within the beautiful landscaped grounds to create something quite spectacular. The twinkling lights combined with the wonderfully festive atmosphere really made me feel very Christmassy! Seeing the striking façade of Blenheim Palace come to life in a way that I’d never seen before made a really magical finale.

All in all, I felt that the trail was beautifully done with outstanding shows that would keep all age groups happy. It was really lovely to do something with three generations of my family – from grandparents down to the grandchildren – that felt fun and traditional for each one of us. It took us about an hour and a half to complete the trail, although parts of this were rushed through due to the kids’ enthusiasm! Those visiting as a group of adults may want to take a little more time to immerse themselves in the lights and the atmosphere, and take it at a relaxing pace – I’ll certainly do that next time I visit, and I’d also like to go inside the property and see its splendour. With the theme of the decorations and lights changing each year, there is always a reason to go back!