Emma Joseph rounds up some of the best attractions on offer, from giant, illuminated barn owls at Marwell Zoo in Winchester and the Watercress Line's fantastic light show to the beauty of the Glimmering Gardens at Alton's Chawton House and a sprinkle of magic at the Hawk Conservancy Trust.


Great British Life: Glow Marwell at Marwell Zoo. Image: Paul CollinsGlow Marwell at Marwell Zoo. Image: Paul Collins


Marwell Zoo, Winchester

This year’s Glow Marwell event is set to be bigger, better and brighter than ever before, with half a million twinkling lights, brand new illuminations, photo opportunities and interactive elements.

Premium nights include an extra sprinkle of magic in the form of two surprise Glow acts.

New for 2023, live puppetry will be part of the spectacle, as guests enjoy a giant illuminated Barn Owl as it circles and swoops gently overhead against the backdrop of the night sky.

Visitors can also come face-to-face with a 7ft living Snow Globe, as it glides gracefully through crowds to the sound of festive music. Push the button on the front and watch as snowflakes surround the beautiful Snow Queen and her ornately decorated winter wonderland scene.

Juggling Inferno will return for a second year for some of the premium nights with its magnificent fire juggling performances, creating exquisite patterns in the dark with their flaming clubs.

Event highlights include a 36-metre, multicoloured light tunnel; a specially created Enchanted Tree; Rainbow Road and a magical Glow Forest.

New for this year, Father Christmas will spread some seasonal cheer in his festive grotto (on selected dates, subject to availability). Guests can simply turn up and pay for Father Christmas on the day. Tickets cost £10 per child (0-17) and include a gift.

November 24-25, December 1-23 and December 27-30, 1pm to 8pm (last entry 6pm). Child tickets start from £13 and adult tickets cost from £17 for Marwell members. Tickets must be pre-booked in advance.


Great British Life: Steam Illuminations on the Watercress Line. Image: Tony StoreySteam Illuminations on the Watercress Line. Image: Tony Storey


Watercress Line, Alresford or Alton

Something a little bit different, the Watercress Line's annual Steam Illuminations is an incredible light show on and in a steam train, consisting of thousands of coloured LED lights and LED wristbands, creating a kaleidoscope of different colours and flashing patterns.

Join the festive action on board with the Christmas Chart Crackers DJ mix up until Christmas Day then, after Christmas, continue the on-board family fun and celebrate the New Year with a Pop Anthems Journey, featuring tunes from the 1960s to present day, singalong anthems.

Both journeys are filled with interactive sound to light fun, hosted by the legendary ‘Voiceover Man’ (as heard on Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor).

Trains depart from either Alresford or Alton and complete a round trip, back to the starting station.

This is a wonderful experience for the whole family and is sure to be an event to remember.

November 24 - January 6. The journey lasts approximately one hour 45 minutes, so allow two hours for your trip.

Off peak tickets start at £59 for two.


Great British Life: Christmas Illuminated Garden Adventure at West Green House. Image: Neil DaykinChristmas Illuminated Garden Adventure at West Green House. Image: Neil Daykin


West Green House, near Hartley Wintney, Hook

The lakes, ponds and fountains at West Green House allow magic to happen in the fantastically lit gardens at Christmas. Last year gold and vermillion water lilies glowed on the lake their colour reflections were a source of wonderment.

For 2023, visitors can see giant water fountains dancing to music will hurl water meters into the night sky, falling like a cascade of diamonds catching the light from thousands of lights within the garden, with water falling over the steps, into ponds and onto tiny stepped rills in the Nymphaeum (a smart Italian name for a water garden) picking up a Kaleidoscope of colours from the surrounding flood-lit trees.

The mile long trail around the lake will be illuminated by thousands of lights telling the story of Alice in Wonderland, while the garden's Five Bridges become tunnels of light with creatures beneath, transforming into the flamingoes' croquet lawn in the Paradise Garden.

A menu of warming drinks and hot ‘food to go’ can be found in the cabins along the sparkling trail, or enjoy a Christmas spiced wine, hot chocolate or coffee in the decorated Tea Room.

November 25 – December 30, until 9.30pm.

Timed tickets from 4.30 to 7.30pm. Off Peak: Family £50 (2 adults, 2 children) / Adult ticket £19 / Child ticket (4-15) £15 . Peak: Family £70 (2 adults, 2 children) / Adult ticket £22 / Child ticket (4-15) £18


Great British Life: Light Up Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. Image: Elliott FranksLight Up Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. Image: Elliott Franks


Jermyns Lane, Romsey

Once again, the much-loved visitor attraction hosts the mesmerising Light Up Sir Harold Hillier Gardens At Christmas. Created by Light Up Trails, the award-winning Hampshire-based designers, Light Up Sir Harold Hillier Gardens At Christmas is a magical walk under the stars with the magnificent collections of trees and rare plants illuminated by millions of LED lights in a series of spectacular light art installations.

Highlights include the premiere of an exciting new work by The Projection Studio. Presented in partnership with Oxford University, the details of the piece are a closely guarded secret, but they have revealed the piece will be projected on the pine tree collection at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and tell the story of the pine Christmas Tree.

Certain to be a talking point for visitors is the beautiful sculpture Moment of Flight, by artist Michael Condron. The four-metre high structure outlines an osprey bathed in light and references the successful conservation projects to restore a breeding population of ospreys to the south coast.

Many pieces are linked by their representation of the elements, but there's a peak into the new year ahead in the shape of Spring, a shimmering sea of 5,000 pink and white flowers, immersing viewers in 360° light and sound; while James Smith's dramatic walk-through installation Beyond places the visitor inside a world of reflected light using infinity mirrors to create what could almost be a portal to somewhere else.

After dark, November 30 to December 31

Tickets from £12.50 child, £20 adult, £61 family. Free parking with entrance ticket


Installations and attractions may be subject to change.

Great British Life: Enlightened Winter Light Trail - Staunton Farm, Havant. Image: EnlightenedEnlightened Winter Light Trail - Staunton Farm, Havant. Image: Enlightened


Staunton Farm, Havant

Staunton Farm will be transformed into a magical illuminated light trail for visitors to enjoy with all the family. The Enchanted trail, boasting a host of mesmerising light installations, is approximately one mile in length – perfect for those with young families.

Visitors can enjoy a number of static and interactive light up attractions with an enchanting soundscape.

December 8-24, 4.30pm to 7.30pm

Pre-booking Required. Tickets from £12.50 per adult and from £9 per child (3-16). Infants under 3 are free.


Great British Life: Glimmering Gardens, Chawton House, Andover. Image: Claire Lewis PhotographyGlimmering Gardens, Chawton House, Andover. Image: Claire Lewis Photography


Chawton House, Andover

Enjoy the gardens after dark with this year's new Christmas lights trail. Visitors can enjoyed beautiful decorations in the house, before exploring the gardens as they come to life in twinkling lights and spot the woodland creatures that call Chawton House home. Discover the Elizabeth Blackwell herb garden in the Walled Garden, inspired by Blackwell’s work A Curious Herbal, one of many botanical works on display in the Botanical Women exhibition, enjoy the glimmering lights and listen to the wind through the trees in the wilderness. Don’t forget to stop for a moment on the South Lawn and enjoy undisturbed views of the night sky and the shining stars. ‘

December18 to January 1 every evening from 3pm-6pm. The house and gardens will then change the opening and closing times to 11am-6pm. Entry included in general admission price, £12.


Great British Life: Winter Woodland Lights, Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover. Image: John KentWinter Woodland Lights, Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover. Image: John Kent


Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover

Start 2024 with a sparkle at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, when it will become even more magical with beautiful illuminations and a live owl display set in a stunning, colourful woodland.

This dazzling start to the year is one of the trust’s most popular events, and this time you'll get to explore a brand new illuminated trail, bringing the grounds to life like never before. There'll be even more lights, fantastical storytelling accompanied by new music and effects to amaze and inspire.

To finish off a spectacular evening, the trail will lead to you to the woods where the beautiful owls will take flight for a breathtaking finale. Find light in the darkness, all while supporting the conservation of birds of prey!Feathers Restaurant will be open for food and tempting treats to keep you warm throughout the evening.

January 12-28, 5pm or 7:30pm (selected dates - The Trust is closed during the day from January 4 to February 9)