It’s been a while since we’ve done a light trail. You know, unenthusiastic teens and the high prices. It’s a bit of a trek to visit a different one to usual, so we didn’t bother for Christmas 2023. But I’m always keeping my eyes out for winter trails going into the new year, and this year Compton Verney kept popping up on my Facebook feed. So I booked 2 tickets for the Spectacle of Light in February in the hope N would join me.
Compton Verney’s not too far from us, in Warwickshire, so it’s a lot less commitment trying to work out timings than going to Blenheim which is another 15 minutes drive in comparison. There’s also the bonus of no car parking costs. And the ticket prices worked out about half the price even for peak weekend pricing. Ok, so it was never going to be as amazing as Blenheim’s trail, but it was worth a try to brighten up gloomy February.
First of all, N didn’t want to come along, but the promise of Street Food for tea meant he was willing to suffer some lights and my photography. It’s always nice to have someone to enjoy a show with.
I’d booked the first slot of the day, and I was pleased that the car park was really empty on arrival. There was a queue because the place closes after the day opening, so we had to wait 15 minutes before it was open and our tickets could be scanned for entry.
Spectacle of Light trail
From the car park we could see the start of the trail lights in the wooded area. It’s quite a walk to the house itself so I was pleased the trail would start as soon as we entered. There are plenty of staff around the trail telling you where to go next (although it was fairly obvious apart from the exit route if you don’t know the site), and answer questions.
The trail walks you through the woods, with the trees lit up, disco balls, little triangle tents, chinese style lanterns, and to the viewing point to see the house across the lake.
We were so lucky that it was a dry evening, and the reflections of the lights and trees on the water was so beautiful. I’ve since seen some drone footage over the site, and the whole place from above looked amazing.
We then walked around the lake over the bridge for some more photo opportunities, and round to watch the moving lights around the tree.
Walking up the path towards the front of Compton Verney hall was lovely, you could imagine carriages driving up the drive like something from Bridgerton.
We liked the gorgeous coloured ball installation although do keep watching it for a while to see it all lit up as it changes on quite a long rotation.
You have a choice to head for food first but we decided to finish the trail and come back round to the food afterwards which most people seemed to do as well.
The lights up to the grand tree made a great photo, and then the trail ended with a light tunnel.
When we’d had our fill of lights, it was street food time. The weekend we visited there was a choice of 5 trucks. N decided he wanted to try a battered sausage with chips from the fish and chips van. He did have to wait a while as we were first to the van, so they’d only got chips going.
I decided to try the Street Chef halloumi fries, and had those with chicken and veg gyoza dumplings and soy and honey sauce. The prices were under £10 for food, and there was enough choice to cover everyone’s tastes.
There was plenty of seating, and for those who wanted proper indoors, there was also a bar open inside the house restaurant, as well as the toilets being in there.
Once finished it was a short uphill walk back past the ice house and back to the welcome/visitor’s centre to get the car.
The trail is largely paths, with the bit by the house on mats over the grass. The only bit that was really muddy was the seating area under cover. There weren’t any steps, and we did see someone heading onto the trail in a wheelchair as we were leaving and a family with a pushchair, so it felt largely accessible, with maybe just one potential slippy matted slope to the viewing point across the lake.
I really enjoyed the Spectacle of Light trail. There’s some picture frame view points you can stop and take photos. And some instagramable fun photo light installations like the moon circle and a red lit up heart (N’s photo taking needed some work on the latter to be sharable!).
The trail probably took us a bit under an hour (N doesn’t do loitering much), so even with stopping for food afterwards, it wasn’t a long evening out which means it’s good for children. It was definitely getting a lot busier as we were walking out, and more people heading towards the final few parts of the trail and food. But there were plenty of spaces in the car park as we were leaving. So it’s never going to be super busy like larger venues.
It’s on until 18th February 2024, the end of half term in the area, so you’ve still got a bit of time to book tickets and visit the Spectacle of Light trail.
I think there should be more winter light trails in January and February to bright up those post Christmas dark months. I’ll be looking out for more in future years near us.
If you’re looking for other trails in and around the area, the the below posts:
- Winter and Christmas trails in Oxfordshire and surrounds
- Easter trails in Oxfordshire and nearby
- Art and sculpture trails in the UK
Have you been to any non Christmas light trails?