I love a Christmas light trail although this winter, opted to visit them between Christmas and New Year rather than earlier in the season. Considering we’ve not really done much during the last year, it was surprising how few dates we had available to book. I visited the Nutcracker palace displays on my own on a flexi day, but when he realised he didn’t have to go in the palace itself, N was keen to do the outdoor light trail. 2021 used our 2020 Christmas light trail tickets that we didn’t get to use due to restrictions.
We’d managed to book one of the earliest slots which works best for us. We get to miss all the crowds because the day time visitors have generally left by then, but you don’t have all the later people arriving yet. It’s also nice to see the start of the trail when it’s not fully dark (better photos too!).
Rather than spend a fortune (and time queuing) on hot chocolate, I decided we’d take flasks of our own drinks. There were limited places to sit around the trail – just a few benches at one spot by a festive bar stall, and then a very crowded area for people buying from food stalls in the courtyard. So it turned out to be a good plan. With me being on keto and avoiding milk, it meant I could have my own hot chocolate, and N could have the normal version. If you don’t want to spend while you’re there, it’s definitely worth doing – you could even take soup or other warming foods in a food flask too. I wanted to try this but N wasn’t keen. We’d decided we’d just buy food there.
The car parking was well organised as usual, and it’s a nice walk down the drive to the palace entrance. We didn’t bother upgrading N’s ticket to an annual pass as it’s rare he comes to Blenheim with me, and I did mine a few weeks ago when I was there.
Walking through the lit up wreath entrance make it special and more seasonal. The courtyard was full of the 3 fairground rides as usual, plus the various food stalls – this year kebabs/pittas, burger and chips and steak frites stalls.
It was lovely to walk through and see Blenheim Palace itself lit up. There’s music playing and beautiful lighting displays on the frontage.
This was the first year we didn’t need to queue going in the entrance for the light trail. We just had our tickets checked then went through. This might have been because we were an earlier slot.
What I really liked was how different the trail was from previous years. The last couple of times we went, a lot were similar. So I was pleased there were only a couple of installations that were the same.
The route did seem a bit shorter, and it didn’t go down to the cascades as in previous years. But it was a nice walk, and went all around the back of the palace.
We enjoyed singing along to the Christmas tree with It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The rose garden was beautiful to walk around and enjoy the colours changing.
The shooting stars walked us along the path behind the palace – where we could watch the light show display on the back of the palace from a distance.
We spotted Father Christmas from a distance (N wondered as it was after Christmas what he’d be speaking to people about).
Halfway round we stopped to have a seat and a drink of our hot chocolate.
The tunnel of lights was great this year. Everyone had enough time to get a photo taken. It was so nice to have it a bit quieter and have that time, rather than trying to get photos while everyone is pushing through.
The nutcrackers looked great, and tied in with the indoor palace displays.
N proved you’re never too old to play. He spent ages jumping around catching the snowflake lights on the path. And catching the bubbles being squirted out. It was lovely seeing him enjoying it.
We finished off by walking right at the back of the palace and seeing the lights transition on the building up close. I love when the lights go in time to the music, and N was able to recognise quite a few pieces of the music used.
The formal gardens’ fountains were full of burning lights displays. It was more beautiful than photos show, and was a great end to the trail.
The trail probably took around an hour which was plenty for us. It’s all on hard paths, so we didn’t really need to wear wellies.
Afterwards it was time for some food. N was happy to choose a child’s burger and chips. I really fancied a kebab, but with my keto diet I wanted it without the bread. Unfortunately the stall wouldn’t serve me that as it was a set price – a bit ridiculous as they could have just charged that price and not given me the bread. But they wouldn’t so I just gave up, and decided to cook when I got home. I suppose I could have requeued for a burger minus the bun, but we wanted to avoid the rain coming in.
It was a lovely late afternoon out, and so nice to get out and about again. N quite often moans about going out, but then says that he enjoys the walk, and seeing new things. I think he’s a bit like me – likes to see what else is going on rather than always being at home on the farm all the time.
While Blenheim Palace Christmas displays do cost a lot of money, especially if you’ve a whole family going along and you’re having to add on the parking costs as well. But they’re beautiful and definitely worth having as a tradition each year. Especially if they’re changing it up.
Find out where else you can visit Christmas trails in Oxfordsihire.
What Christmas light trail have you visited this holiday season? Where would you recommend?