Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt

Westonbirt the National Arboretum is stunning at any time of year - bursting with new life in the spring, verdant and green in the summer sunshine, red and resplendent in the Autumn. But in the winter, you can experience something entirely different as the unique tree-filled landscape is brought to life with a captivating atmospheric illuminated trail. Helen from the VisitWiltshire team went along to experience the magic for herself on the opening night of this year's Enchanted Christmas...

Westonbirt Arboretum is a unique tree garden just over the border in Gloucestershire, home to around 15,000 trees from all over the globe. I went there on a cold winter's evening at the end of November to explore their Enchanted Christmas lights trail and Christmas Village. The sun had set and the weather was suitably atmospheric, with wintery mists floating amongst the trees and frost crackling on the ground. The air was cold and crisp; the scene was set for a very special festive evening! 

westonbirt trees enchanted christmas

We began by following the illuminated lights trail, which snakes between Westonbirt's beautiful old trees. Bewitching lights tempted us forward, leading us amongst trees lit up in unearthly colours. Some were slender and elegant, towering over the visitors, some crooked and characterful, illuminated by a shifting array of lights. Although you only see a fraction of the trees at Westonbirt on the Enchanted Christmas walk, it is enough to leave you wanting to come back in the spring to explore the beautiful landscape in the daytime. 

As we walked further, we found ourselves in a magical, fairy landscape where giant baubles floated overhead, brilliant lights shone across the sky and fairy characters flitted and laughed amongst the trees. The magic of Christmas hung in the cold air, and I could believe at any moment we would step into Narnia itself. 

Half way along the trail, we stopped for a mince pie (my first this year - absolutely enormous and absolutely delicious) and a hot mulled cider ...Then on with exploring fairyland! The atmosphere was magical, sometimes whimsical, sometimes almost eerie. Despite the darkness, it was always friendly and fun, never scary. When I visited there were lots of small children clearly having a wonderful time.

Young visitors will be entranced by the light displays and thoroughly entertained by talking trees, Father Christmas's launch pad, and the chance to play a tune on some particularly special musical trees! Meanwhile, adults will enjoy the tranquility of the wintery landscape and the beautiful illuminations, not to mention the hundreds of opportunities to snap great Instagram photos.

Christmas Village at Westonbirt

Just as the winter night was making me cold, the trail brought us back to the Christmas Village - a welcoming island of brightness with nostalgic fairground rides and stalls selling hot food and drink. Here you can escape the cold, tuck into mulled wine and hot food, warm your cockles and fill up with festive cheer. If a spellbinding winter evening here isn't enough to get you into the Christmas spirit, I don't know what is!

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum is running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4pm-9pm until 22 December. Advanced booking is essential. 

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