Christmas at Kingston Lacy 2021: lighting up the winter nights

Bare branched tree lit up after dark by neon lights on each branch

One of the Neon Trees you will see on the trail at Christmas at Kingston Lacy - Credit: Richard Haughton © Sony Music

Dorset Magazine enjoyed an evening exploring the winter illuminations at Kingston Lacy, here's what we thought.

The winter nights are drawing in and there's a chill in the air. Whilst this may be all the encouragement we need to stay indoors and hide under blankets, there is an alternative. The National Trust have transformed Kingston Lacey into a winter paradise with gorgeous decorations throughout the house, and activities like Percy the Park Keeper's winter wander trail. But the true feather in their cap has to be the illuminations trail in partnership with Sony that chases away the dark and creates a festive warmth in visitors.

Lights shaped like Christmas trees line a path

There are plenty of hidden gems as you walk - Credit: Andrew Griffiths

What to Expect on Arrival

Make sure to wrap up warm and bring plenty of layers on your visit. The event is completely outdoors at night so the temperature can drop dramatically. It had just rained before our visit so we also wore wellies although the walk is on well-trodden paths so it wasn't particularly muddy. The whole event is wheel-chair friendly with no steps or rough terrain - except the occasional gravel stretch - so everyone can enjoy without difficulty or worry. The trail is also well lit by both the illuminations and lamp posts so you won't need torches, just a camera or phone for all those pictures you'll want to take.

Santa Claus waves to passers by

Say hi to Santa as you walk - Credit: Andrew Griffiths

Pretty as a...

And what a picture it is. The path takes you up past the frontage of the house and, as you round the corner, it's hard to not be impressed by the Venetian Palace façade lit up against the dark sky. As you walk, there are several different areas to enjoy such as a tunnel of love, neon trees, and other structures which replicate and compliment the surrounding grounds. Much of Kingston Lacy is lawns and woodland so much imagination has gone into making this an unusual and mesmerising affair. 

Early on in the walk, you'll be able to say hello to Father Christmas at his little grotto and snap a picture or two. Kids in particular will love this magical moment with the jolly man himself.

A row of trees are dramatically lit in gold

Some of the illuminations are breath taking - Credit: Martha Griffiths

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Ultimately, the most special part of the night is the finale: The Tunnel of Light. This is a huge domed structure of gold lights whose vaulted ceiling has a cathedral-quality to it. This is the perfect place to stop for a moment and take a family selfie. As the music plays, it's hard to not feel festive and warm inside, it's the perfect activity to make you start feeling Christmassy!

A tunnel of warm lights with people walking through

The Tunnel of Light is a great finale - Credit: Andrew Griffiths

Amenities

Whilst the main building is not open, there is a range of places to warm up at the beginning and end of the trail where toilets can also be found. Stop at one of the shacks and grab a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate, plus plenty of hot food items. We definitely recommend purchasing a giant marshmallow and toasting it over the purpose built fires. Most of the outlets will accept cash, however card is preferred for Covid purposes. Children can also use pre-purchased tokens to go on a handful of fun-fair rides before they start their walk.

A white flower is lit from underneath

The attention to detail makes it all the more special - Credit: Andrew Griffiths

The Verdict

Christmas at Kinston Lacy is a great addition to the festive season and a magical way for families and friends to get together and be wowed by beautiful sights and sounds. The whole experience will take around 90 minutes which is just long enough that you won't get too cold, but also will make the drive over worth it. We loved our visit and can't wait to do it all again next year!

The Christmas Illuminations at Kingston Lacy are open now and run every day until January 2nd except from Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve.

Advance tickets cost £22 per adult and £14 for under 16s (under 2s and carers go free). A family ticket for two adults and two children costs £60. You can purchase tickets from the National Trust here.

A sign reads Goodnight and Merry Christmas

A great end to a great evening - Credit: Martha Griffiths