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Go for glow! Where to see the Xmas lights

Cornwall's gardens, woods, rivers, harbours and biomes are all getting a Christmas glow-up. Here's our pick of the best illuminations around the county.

LIGHT TRAILS

Heligan Night Garden – An Enchanting Lantern Experience, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, 20 Nov – 2 Jan

Enjoy an enchanting lantern experience set amidst the atmospheric Lost Gardens – back again for 2021. This was truly beautiful last year – make sure that you book in advance to explore the gardens as they are beautifully lit by a variety of traditional paraffin lanterns and discover a breath-taking display of flora and fauna lanterns, illuminated within Heligan’s much-loved and iconic locations.

Tunnel of Lights: Arctic Adventure, Shipwreck Museum, Charlestown, Cornwall, until Jan

An immersive frozen adventure through the Shipwreck Treasure Museum’s underground tunnels as it’s transformed into a sparkling wonderland of ice. Follow the footsteps of Polar Explorers as you discover glittering waterfalls, giant icebergs, and frozen shipwrecks. Building on the success of the hugely popular Tunnel of Lights in 2020, the event returns with thousands of lights, atmospheric Arctic soundscapes and a magical journey through a polar world.

Light tunnel, Camel Creek Adventure Park, Wadebridge, Cornwall, 27 Nov – 23 Dec

Stretching for 100 glittering meters, the twinkling tunnel will be adorned with 2km of lights, and as the centrepiece of the Park’s Christmas activities, will cast a magical glow over the winter wonderland experience – Christmas spirit guaranteed! Say hello to Father Christmas, help Santa’s Elves in their workshop or get lost in a Christmas Tree Forest. Little ones can also enjoy a sweet Christmas treat in the Chocolate Factory while grown-ups enjoy warm mulled wine.

Lanterns and lights, National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, 18 Dec – 2 Jan

From beautifully lit vessels to starry trails, Christmas at the National Maritime Museum will be lit up with lanterns and lights with a magical nautical twist.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Eden Project, from 3 Dec

The Med Biome will be filled with beautiful lights and the glitter ball will make you feel like you’re in a snowglobe! The Rainforest Biome will be a more reflective experience – enjoy the enchanting atmosphere of a beautifully-lit tropical paradise, with more focused displays around key areas, including the gorgeous illuminated waterfall. For a properly festive excursion, book ice skating and a visit to Santa too.

Angarrack, nr Hayle, from 4 Dec

The lights are on from first Saturday in December featuring impressive lights built in Angarrack. Depicting the twelve days of Christmas they are illuminated between 5pm and 10.30pm each night of December – last day is Twelfth Night in January.

Christmas Lights in Mousehole, from mid-Dec

Yes, there are Christmas lights in towns all over Cornwall but these are the particularly special and famous ones. In Mousehole the harbour and town is lit up with everything from sea monsters to star gazey pie – no official switch on date this year due to Covid, the lights will go on as they are ready, with the full set expected to be illuminated from mid-December.

JUST OVER THE BORDER

Illuminate, Plymouth, Thurs 25 – Sun 28 Nov

Not specifically for Christmas but a bobby dazzler none the less. Plymouth’s much-loved light festival organised by the brilliant Real Ideas Organisation returns in the form of a two-week program mainly around Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard and also at the Market Hall in Devonport. Expect light art, installations and immersive experiences as well as a host of workshops with the theme of climate crisis. And all for FREE (booking essential).

Glow 2021, Rosemoor Gardens, Great Torrington

Tall trees, windy paths and lakes make the perfect combination for illuminations and this year the RHS gardens are promising their longest ever trail with an extended route and striking new light features.

Heading up country? Check out the rest of the best XMAS light trails recommended by Muddy Editors

CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY

Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, Richmond, London

Christmas at Kew Gardens.
Christmas at Kew. Photo credit Jeff Eden

Returning for its ninth year, Kew Garden’s winter trail is back lighting up the night skies with sparkling tunnels of light, dancing waterside reflections and trees drenched in jewel-like colour as well as the panoramic Palm House light display. It’s on from Wed 17 to Sun 9 Jan, 4pm-10pm. Its timed entry and capacity is limited, so advance booking is essential.

Palace of Stardust, Hampton Court, London

Enter a whimsical world of planets and stars on an enchanting new light trail at Hampton Court Palace this winter. The trail winds through the palace’s formal gardens, where you’ll find a fantastical wonderland of clocks, moons, planets and sundials. It’s on from Wed 8 Dec until 3 Jan from 4pm-8pm.

Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, London, 26 Nov – 9 Jan

New this year, the sweeping grounds of this neoclassical stately home (which you may recall from the end of Notting Hill) are to be decked out with a magnificent, glowing path. It’s set to be a multi-sensory experience, and there’s even a VIP terrace bar for festive cocktails after.

Lightopia Festival, Crystal Palace Park, London

This year Lightopia moves to Crystal Palace Park in south-east London. The award-winning lantern and light festival is a visual spectacular with interactive exhibits, immersive light installations and a magical illuminated trail. It’s on from Fri 19 Nov until 2 Jan.

& SADLY NOT ON THIS YEAR

Last year would have marked the 25th anniversary of the first City of Lights Parade in Truro, so it is even more sad that the team have decided not to continue with plans for the 2021 event. Still, something to look forward to in 2022.

We also hear that the famous Bude Tunnel (next to Sainsbury’s) won’t be getting its festive makeover…

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