5 magical candle-lit experiences
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Hannah Stuart-Leach seeks out Somerset’s most alluring, softly-lit experiences for December
It’s amazing how the flicker of a flame can transport us to another place, and make us feel at peace with the world. Amid the madness of the Christmas rush, with puddings still to make and gifts still to wrap, remember to take some time out to enjoy what Christmas has to offer for yourself.
A wonderful, calming place to start is seeing Somerset by candlelight. Whether that involves a family night out or simply enjoying a candlelit evening in, you’re sure to be glad you did it.
1. Dunster by Candlelight
A magical annual event turns back time, transforming the medieval streets of Dunster with atmospheric candlelight. The street lanterns are all lit by a festive procession that winds its way through the village. Visitors are welcome to join in – just make sure you deck yourself out in period costume. You can also look forward to being entertained by street performers, carol singers and bell ringers, and there are plenty of amazing food stalls so you certainly won’t go hungry. Dunster by Candlelight is paid for by the Traders of Dunster in aid of St Margaret’s Hospice here in Somerset. As well as Street collections, every £1 from the sale of the programmes goes to the hospice. This year it takes place on 4 and 5 December. dunsterbycandlelight.co.uk.
2. Go for a drink at the Candlelight Inn
This idyllic hideaway in Chard’s Blackdown Hills is just the ticket for a Christmas tipple, with friends or loved ones. Built in the 17th century, it’s full of character, from its timber frames to its flagstone floors. The staff make it a warm and friendly place to be too. So what are you waiting for – order yourself a pint of Sheppys and pull up a pew in front of the fire for some old fashioned festive cheer. The menu of locally sourced food is pretty fantastic too.
3. Sing carols by candlelight at Wells Cathedral.
On 20 and 21 of December this year, Wells Cathedral’s musical extravaganza is really something to behold. The annual Christmas concerts are performed by the cathedral’s own choir – this year with Jonathan Vaughn playing organ and Matthew Owens conducting. Their seasonal song will be interspersed with readings, made all the more moving by thousands of candles lit in a magnificent medieval cathedral. Tickets start at £13. Proceeds from these concerts support Wells Cathedral Choir and the wider work of the cathedral. You can purchase them from Wells Cathedral shop or on 01749 672773. wellscathedral.org.uk. Be warned! These events always sell-out, so make sure you get your tickets fast.
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4.Get away for a romantic night at the Archangel, Frome
Never mind the Christmas shopping. Treat yourself to some much-needed downtime instead and check into this boutique hotel in Frome with your other half. The Romantic Getaway includes a two-night stay in a sumptuous double room, a bottle of bubbly, breakfast both mornings and – the highlight – a three-course candlelit dinner in the much-raved about restaurant.
5. Fill your home with candles
Whether you’re hosting Christmas dinner, or simply want to set the mood ready for Santa’s arrival – a few well-placed candles will do wonders to help create the right ambience. You’ll probably be spoilt for choice when it comes to buying local candles, what with all the Christmas craft fairs in Somerset. But if you can’t make any, then we suggest you try Just Bee (justbeepure.co.uk), based in the Quantocks. It’s an ethically minded company that makes gently scented beeswax votives and tealights, using beeswax collected from the founder Harriet Scott-Bolton’s family bees. Or, for festive themed tins, Glastonbury based company Lily-Flame makes some evocative scents, from Christmas Pudding to Jack Frost and Fairy Dust. lily-flame.co.uk