A visit to Beaulieu, in the heart of the New Forest is something that the whole family enjoys.
Home to the National Motor Museum, the World of Top Gear, Palace House, a 13th century Cistercian Abbey, the Monorail and stunning gardens, there is something to spark the interest of all ages.
Last night, we were invited to Beaulieu’s stunning new illuminated Christmas trail which features over one million lights in a mile long shimmering trail of 11 individual installations.
Once through the entrance, you are presented with a Christmas wonderland filled with vintage fairground rides and stalls with everything from Santa’s Sweetshop to a Bar, popcorn to a Carvery and burgers.
The trail starts with a stunning 200ft long Cathedral of Light and as you emerge from the other end, you catch glimpses of other installations throughout the grounds.
From the tunnel, it was past some lit Christmas trees and into the grounds of the stunning Beaulieu Abbey, which was warmly lit by 180 flickering torches to make a Fire Garden.
From there, we found a crowd of people gathered around Beaulieu’s replica 1912 open-topped London bus, fronted by a rather excitable man called ‘Toot Sweet’.
He was, unsuccessfully, trying to keep the crowd quiet as he had a very special guest onboard the bus, trying to have a nap, however, getting the kids to sing ‘the wheels on the bus’ was never going to be quiet!!
The special visitor was Father Christmas and climbed to the top of the bus to greet the adoring public and had everyone singing Jingle Bells before heading back inside for some more sleep so we continued along the trail to see what we could find.
About half way around there is a chance to stop for a break and toast marshmallows in a fire pit, or try to spot the elf hidden in the gingerbread house.
Every display is different and there is music to accompany the lights all the way round. The kids loved the 12 days of Christmas display, which saw 12 pictures light up as the song played.
Sebby was particularly smitten with the Nutcrackers and they all tried their hand at dancing to Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Palace House itself was brought to life by dancing lights that perform in time to much-loved Christmas classics.
We then headed through the Icicle Walk, with larger than life gleaming shards which guide you through Mill Pond walk on the banks of Beaulieu River, which have been lit up with thousands of colour changing fibre optics.
The trees were lit up in all the colours of the rainbows, with twinkling stars floating above your head.
The flowerbeds were glowing blue and the kids thought it looked like bluebell forest, before the lights changed into reds, yellows, whites and greens as we walked through.
My photo’s really don’t do the experience any justice as it was a “WOW!” moment around every corner.
The finale is a fantastic larger than life display of trees, with rainbow coloured lights dancing to cheerful Christmas music.
Christmas at Beaulieu runs until 24th December 2018 and online admission prices are: Adults: £14.50, Children: £8.00, Family Tickets: £40.00 and under 5’s and carers free. Tickets are available online and on the door. Please be aware that additional charges apply for the fairground rides and Christmas stalls and you don’t get a meet and greet with Father Christmas.
We really enjoyed our visit to Christmas at Beaulieu, it is the perfect setting for the magical light and music show. It took us 90 minutes to walk along the light trail and you can also view them from above on their monorail system for a different perspective.
For more information on the display and museum and illumination prices, visit beaulieu.co.uk/christmas