I’ve got to take my hat off to Blenheim and expert light specialists Raymond Gubbay for coming up with such a stunning, exciting and emotive Christmas Illuminated Trail this year.

“Tuning into our rather shattered psyches, the new Blenheim Christmas Lights are touching, gentle, humorous and jolly”

Because despite Christmas at Blenheim Palace’s solid reputation for pulling off ever more spectacular illuminated displays, to do so in 2020 is really quite something.

Tuning into our rather shattered psyches, the new Blenheim Christmas Illuminated Trail Lights, which began at the weekend and run right through to Jan 3, are touching, gentle, humorous and jolly.

“we will certainly remember 2020 for many years to come, and thanks to Blenheim’s magnificent effort, the sting has been taken out of its tail”

They sense our excitement, our relief, our need to be lifted and entertained, while anticipating our anxiety in doing so.

Predicting its audience will therefore be slightly trepidatious, the 2020 trail leads us sensitively in with rousing music, tributes to the NHS and a sure fire one-way system and lots of stewards to ensure we social distance.

What’s more, for the ardent fans who go every year, there are lots of new features to marvel at, thanks to instigators Culture Creative. I got stuck at several attraction en route, unable to tear myself away from the musically timed light displays rolling down the hills, perfectly orchestrated, hypnotically mesmerising.

But nothing can beat that initial first impression; the palace lit up, the merry go-round, slides and food vans enticing you in. The excitement is palpable.

And while there is no Christmas Market this year for obvious reasons, one of the new treats laid on instead is the light-show finale in the Great Court, to whet your appetite before you set off on the trail. 

After that the images and marvels come thick and fast, from the illuminated boats on the lake (see main pic), and neon boat house, to the white doves and snowdrops in the woods

The classics are still there from the cathedral to the coloured cascades, but there are also evident and numerous new additions; a triangular walkway guiding you to the waterfall, a disco ball heart playing jazz, a lit up ball music extravaganza.

But they all have one thing in common – the million lights in this year’s display are evident everywhere, cheering you up and on while lifting one’s spirits, set against a huge variety in background music from choirs to crooners, carols to Christmas classics.

“Nothing has been spared a sprinkling of Christmas”

The natural world of Blenheim’s extensive grounds are also encompassed; the reflections on the lake magical, the trees artfully coloured, water features highlighted everywhere from the lakes, fountains, pools and cascades. Nothing has been spared a sprinkling of Christmas.

Reunited families process through amongst the couples, grandparents, friends and teens, selfies being taken ad nauseam to commemorate the occasion, little ones keen to find Father Christmas who is highly skilled at a socially distanced photo.

The grand finale comes in the form of the Water Terrace Fire Garden – lit Christmas trees framing the stunning sight of fire and water reflected in the pools set against flickering flambeaux and large flame-filled sculptures. 

And why not, because we will certainly remember 2020 for many years to come, and thanks to Blenheim’s magnificent effort, the sting has been taken out of its tail.

The Illuminated Light Trail really is a magical and novel way to enjoy the festive period, and my favourite to date, perhaps because of the circumstances, but also because of its empathy.

Either way, I’d heartily recommend it, but book now because lots of dates have sold out already.

The new Heart Of Stars

The Illuminated Trail runs until January 10. Tickets for popular dates sell out fast therefore early booking is advised. For full pricing and ticket information visit http://blenheimpalace.com/christmas

Katherine MacAlister


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