This annual light festival invites all to a spectacular Christmas light show, where the night comes alive with glowing displays and festive cheer. As the arboretum paths transform into illuminated trails of wonder, visitors are beckoned to embrace the holiday spirit in a place where magic quite literally lights up the very air we breathe.
About the Festival
The Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt is an annual lights festival that transforms the historic Westonbirt Arboretum into a living storybook of festive lights and colors. Set upon an illuminated trail that winds through the arboretum’s expansive grounds, the festival invites visitors to step into a world where the night sky is brightened with the gentle glow of seasonal cheer. It’s a place where each step reveals a new brushstroke on this dynamic canvas of light, leading guests through a mesmerizing outdoor lighting experience that celebrates the warmth and joy of the holiday season.
Featured Lighting Displays:
Within the arboreal embrace of Westonbirt, the following lighting wonders await festival-goers:
- Glowing Trees: Watch as the stately trees come to life with vibrant colors that showcase their majestic outlines and textures.
- Curtain Lights: Be entranced by shimmering veils of light that cascade down like celestial waterfalls, creating a backdrop of ethereal luminescence.
- Hanging Lanterns: Gaze up at the canopies adorned with lanterns that float like stars, casting a soft, inviting glow along the trail.
- Tunnel of Lights: Stroll through enchanting tunnels where the radiance envelops you, creating a sense of walking through a portal to a world lit by dreams.
- Light Installations: Encounter artistic installations that play with light and form, sparking imagination and wonder with each unique piece.
- Light Trail: Follow the carefully curated light trail that guides you through the heart of the festival, a path alight with the spirit of Christmas.
Other Activities to Explore:
Beyond the mesmerizing light exhibition, the festival also offers a variety of activities to enhance your visit:
- Photo Opportunities: Capture the magic with countless photo spots, perfect for immortalizing your enchanted evening.
- Christmas Village: Immerse yourself in the seasonal spirit at the Christmas village, complete with festive decor and the buzz of holiday excitement.
- Culinary Delights: Indulge in a range of foods and beverages scattered throughout the festival site, from warm winter treats to festive bites that satisfy all palates.
With each activity, the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt promises not just a journey of sight, but an adventure that engages all senses, inviting you to make lasting memories in the glow of this spectacular light festival.
Festival Dates (2023)
The Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt is a seasonal spectacle that graces the final days of autumn and the advent of winter, occurring on select dates between November 24 to December 23, 2023. This magical time is carefully chosen to coincide with the early dusk of the season, allowing the lights to captivate visitors in the full splendor of their glow. Here are the specific dates to mark in your calendar:
2023 Festival Dates:
Friday 24 November to Saturday 25 November
Friday 01 December to Saturday 02 December
Friday 08 December to Saturday 09 December
Friday 15 December to Sunday 17 December
Tuesday 19 December to Saturday 23 December
Where It’s Located and How to Get There
Nestled in the rolling landscape of the Cotswolds, the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt takes place in the heart of Westonbirt Arboretum, located in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, in the United Kingdom. This historic arboretum, famed for its remarkable tree collection and picturesque scenery, becomes the stage for a light festival that captures the essence of the holiday season, turning the natural beauty of the space into a canvas of twinkling lights and vibrant colors.
From the nearest airport, Bristol Airport, the arboretum is approximately a 45-minute drive, making it a convenient trip for international and domestic visitors alike. Upon arrival at Bristol Airport, visitors have a range of options for reaching the festival:
- Car Rentals: Available directly at the airport, offering the freedom to explore at one’s own pace.
- Taxis and Rideshares: A quick and direct method to get to the arboretum, with services readily available outside the terminal.
- Airport Shuttles: Periodic services may be available during the festival season, providing a cost-effective and direct route to the event.
- Public Transportation: For those preferring an adventure, a combination of buses and trains can lead to the arboretum, although this may require careful planning to ensure smooth connections.
Traveling by Train: A Journey Through the Countryside
The romance of train travel is alive and well in the UK, and arriving at the Enchanted Christmas by rail can be a memorable part of the experience. Here’s how to navigate the rails from major cities to Westonbirt Arboretum:
- Take a train from London Paddington to Kemble or Stroud.
- Upon arrival, taxis are available to complete the final leg of the journey to the arboretum.
- Depart from Birmingham New Street to Cheltenham Spa.
- Switch to a local bus service or arrange a taxi from Cheltenham to Westonbirt.
- Board a train to Yate or Cam and Dursley.
- Use local taxi services from the train station to reach the arboretum.
- Trains run from Cardiff Central to either Kemble or Stroud.
- Finalize your trip with a taxi ride directly to the festival location.
When planning your train journey, it’s advisable to check the latest schedules and plan for a taxi or rideshare for the final stretch to Westonbirt, especially in the evenings when public bus services may be less frequent.
If you’re in United Kingdom, you can also check out these other spectacular lights festivals:
As dusk begins to cloak the sky, the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum awakens to an orchestra of lights, welcoming visitors into its illuminated wonderland. The festival hours are thoughtfully set to ensure that you can immerse yourself fully in the glow and festivities of the season. The gates open at 4 PM, just as the daylight begins to wane, allowing the full impact of the vibrant lights against the evening canvas.
The festival continues to radiate its festive cheer until 9:30 PM, offering ample time for guests to stroll, explore, and savor the myriad of lights and attractions along the trail. This window allows for a leisurely experience, whether you’re capturing perfect photographs, enjoying the food and drinks, or simply basking in the ambiance of twinkling lights and the soft murmur of delighted visitors. It’s an invitation to unwind in the spirit of the season, from the gentle evening glow into the enchanting night.
Cost to Visit the Festival
Embracing the spirit of the holidays, the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt offers a variety of ticket options to ensure that all who wish to partake in the festive joy can find a way that fits their plans. From the laughter of children marveling at the twinkling displays to the students and job seekers soaking in the festive atmosphere, the ticket pricing is designed to be inclusive for a diverse range of visitors.
Standard Ticket Prices:
Child (3 – 16 years): £14
Child (0 – 2 years): Free
Concessions (Students and Job Seekers): £19
Off-Peak Ticket Prices:
Child (3 – 16 years):£ 12
Child (0 – 2 years): Free
Concessions (Students and Job Seekers): £17
Relaxed Session Pricing:
Child (3 – 16 years): £14
Child (0 – 2 years): Free
Concessions (Students and Job Seekers): £19
Weather and What to Wear
As we venture into the heart of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, during the late November to December period, we are greeted by the quintessential English winter weather. The temperature in this pastoral corner of the UK tends to be brisk, often ranging between 2°C (35°F) to 8°C (46°F) as the winter season sets in. While the chill in the air is part of the season’s charm, it can also be quite damp, with the possibility of both crisp, clear evenings and the chance of rain or occasional snow, adding a sense of wonder to the light festival.
Given the variable weather conditions, we recommend the following attire to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience at the Enchanted Christmas:
- Warm Coat or Jacket: Opt for waterproof and insulated outerwear to stay dry and retain warmth.
- Layered Clothing: Thermal wear or woolen layers beneath your coat allow for adjustments to keep cozy.
- Waterproof Boots: Sturdy footwear that is waterproof will keep feet dry and warm, essential for walking the outdoor trails.
- Gloves and Scarf: Protect extremities from the cold; thermal gloves and a neck scarf can make a significant difference.
- Hat or Beanie: A lot of body heat is lost through the head, so a warm hat is crucial.
- Umbrella: Be prepared for drizzles or light rain showers that are common during this time.
- Thermal Socks: Keeping your feet warm will make the evening much more comfortable.
Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby
After the luminescence of the festival fades each evening, a restful night’s sleep in a comfortable hotel ensures you’re refreshed and ready to enjoy the next day’s adventures.
Hare and Hounds Hotel
Located just a brief walk from the enchanting Westonbirt Arboretum, the Hare and Hounds Hotel is a warm embrace of country hospitality. Guests can unwind in the traditionally styled rooms that feature plush bedding and rustic charm, with the added modern convenience of free Wi-Fi to share your festive memories in real-time.
The Snooty Fox
In the heart of Tetbury, The Snooty Fox epitomizes the small English town inn experience. This cozy hotel offers visitors a charming retreat complete with all the creature comforts, including complimentary Wi-Fi, to stay connected amidst the classic furnishings and inviting ambiance.
Calcot & Spa
For those seeking a slice of indulgence with their stay, Calcot & Spa presents a luxurious sanctuary situated within an easy drive of the festival’s glow. Alongside the upscale rooms and fine dining options, guests can enjoy a range of spa services and amenities, with the assurance of free Wi-Fi to ensure that every convenience is at their fingertips.
What to Eat
As the lights dazzle your eyes, let the local culinary delights tantalize your taste buds at some of Tetbury’s most charming eateries.
The Priory Inn
Just a short distance from the Westonbirt Arboretum, The Priory Inn stands proudly as a temple to locally sourced cuisine. This gastropub prides itself on a ’30 Mile Food Zone,’ ensuring that most of what lands on your plate is freshly picked and produced within a 30-mile radius. The menu is a celebration of the Cotswolds, offering everything from succulent roasts to hearty pies, all accompanied by a selection of regional ales and ciders.
Tucked away amidst Tetbury’s quaint streets and festive market shops, Cafe 53 offers a casual yet vibrant spot to rest and recharge. This friendly locale is known for its fresh, made-to-order sandwiches, scrumptious salads, and a selection of hot dishes, perfect for a cozy lunch break from the festival activities. The welcoming atmosphere and delicious bites make it an ideal pit stop for festival-goers.
The Royal Oak Tetbury
When the evening cools down, the warmth of The Royal Oak Tetbury beckons. Just a stroll away from the day’s festivities, it’s the quintessential British pub to end your night. Here, you can enjoy a well-deserved pint paired with classic English comfort food—think bangers and mash, fish and chips, or a savory pie—served up in a convivial setting that captures the essence of the local charm.
More Things to Do in the Area
The Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt is just the beginning; the surrounding area brims with activities and sights to make your festive season unforgettable.
Dunkirk Mill Museum
Nestled in the Stroud Valleys, a hub of the Industrial Revolution, the Dunkirk Mill Museum is a fascinating journey back in time. This restored mill showcases the ingenious engineering that powered the woolen mills of Gloucestershire. Visitors can marvel at the original water wheel and machinery, and partake in interactive exhibits that tell the tale of the area’s rich textile history.
For a touch of royal splendor, the Highgrove Gardens are a must-visit, located a mere couple of miles from Tetbury. These are the private gardens of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. With a variety of themed gardens that offer year-round horticultural splendor, guided tours here provide an intimate look at organic gardening at its most elegant.
A scenic drive from the Arboretum, Larkhill Vineyard presents a delightful escape into the world of English winemaking. Situated on the south-facing slopes of a Cotswold hill, the vineyard offers tastings and tours where guests can learn about the grape-to-glass process and sample the vineyard’s exquisite range of wines. It’s a toast to the traditions and innovations of English viticulture.
A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt
As we wrap up our festive journey, the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt leaves us with hearts full of joy and memories aglow. From the twinkling canopies to the taste of local treats and the exploration of the Cotswolds’ charm, this festival of lights is a beacon of holiday spirit. Let the magic of Westonbirt’s illuminated nights be the highlight of your season, as every sparkling light whispers the timeless tales of Christmas cheer.
Is there parking available at the festival?
Yes, there is ample parking for visitors at Westonbirt Arboretum, including designated areas for blue badge holders. Parking is included in the ticket price, but we advise arriving early as it’s on a first-come, first-served basis.
Are the festival grounds wheelchair accessible?
The festival is designed to be as accessible as possible, with most paths being wheelchair and stroller-friendly. However, due to natural terrain, some areas may be more challenging to navigate.
Can I smoke at the Enchanted Christmas event?
Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not permitted on the trail or within the arboretum, except in designated smoking areas, to ensure the enjoyment and safety of all guests.
Are pets allowed to join in the festive fun?
While we love furry friends, pets are not allowed on the Enchanted Christmas trail. Assistance dogs, however, are welcome.
What should I do if I lose something during my visit?
If you lose an item, please report it to the information point during the event or contact the arboretum directly after your visit to check the lost property.
Is there food available for purchase at the festival?
Absolutely! There is a variety of food and beverage options available on-site, offering everything from light snacks to full meals and warm drinks.
What happens if it rains?
The festival is a rain-or-shine event, so the light show will go on! We recommend dressing appropriately for the weather with waterproof clothing and footwear.
Can I purchase tickets at the entrance?
Tickets must be purchased in advance due to the popularity and timed entry of the event. It’s best to secure your tickets early to avoid disappointment, as they often sell out quickly.