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For the first time Windsor Great Park is awash with festive colour as Windsor Illuminated Christmas lights trail arrives at the park!

A Jolly Festive Exclusive
Windsor Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail

Windsor Great Park is awash with festive colour for the first time as Windsor Illuminated celebrates its inaugural Christmas lights trail in the park!  But what is it like and should you visit Windsor Illuminated? 

Read on for our review of Windsor Great Park Illuminated and our five top tips for visiting.  And watch our video for your own sneak peak into Berkshire’s newest Christmas light trail!

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to hear that a Christmas Lights Trail was coming to Windsor Great Park!  Having lived next to the park for nearly two decades, and of course being a huge fan of Christmas light displays, it was literally like all my Christmases had come at once!

On reaching out to convey our excitement, we were touched to receive press passes to attend and even to have the opportunity to speak with some of those involved behind the scenes.  A huge thanks to the team at Windsor Illuminated. 

To our lovely readers -whilst the entry tickets were generously provided, the views and experiences shared on this page are entirely our own.

Tree Disco at Windsor Illuminated

What to expect at Windsor Illuminated?

Two decades exploring Windsor Great Park meant we thought we knew every nook and cranny of this wonderful Royal Park.  But, with the gates usually closed at dusk, this night-time visit made the familiar landscape feel quite new!  As we departed home, there were the inevitable grumbles about the cold and desire for tech & sofa.  But the welcoming hot chocolate stall at the entrance instantly changed everyone’s tune!

The trail was jam-packed with beautiful displays -from huge swathes of forest covered in light and ancient trees dancing to music right down to park benches dotted beneath archways of fairy lights ready for you to stop and savour the moment. 

Green Lights of the Laser Woods

Whilst some of the instalments felt familiar from other Christmas light trails we’ve visited, there were plenty unique to Windsor Great Park and we loved moving between the creations to see what we’d discover next.

And it really was start to finish festive magic, with a Christmas ‘tree disco’ leading us into the park and stunning cascade of rainbow light returning us to Obelisk Lawn at the end.

We loved the refreshment pit stop partway around -tucked between the trees it was like stumbling across a mini festival ground.  Perfect for re-energising and warming up!

And fans of the park’s famous Christmas Carousel need not worry -this Windsor Great Park Christmas mainstay has not been forgotten!  Instead it enjoys pride of place at the Grand Finale surrounded by rejuvenating food and drink offerings!

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Angel Wings at Windsor Great Park Illuminated

Windsor Great Park Illuminated highlights

The standout display for me was the breath-taking 1,400 square metre Field of Lights.  I could easily have stopped there indefinitely!  With a perfect light and orchestral display set beneath giant ancient trees, bands of light stretched away as far as the eye could see, changing colour and dancing to a beautiful music score.  It was so peaceful and awe inspiring that the bustle of the earlier day washed away whilst I became totally immersed.  Even the boys were quiet for a while as they took in the sight!

The colourful view and reflection of illuminated trees across Obelisk Pond created a stunning backdrop for a considerable part of the trail and was so joyful and pretty.  Whilst the eerie ghost ship and huge water lilies bobbing on the pond really took advantage of the trail’s waterside setting.

The Ghost Ship on Obelisk Pond at Windsor Illuminated

Whilst some of the instalments felt familiar from other Christmas light trails we’ve visited, there were plenty unique to Windsor Great Park and we loved moving between the creations to see what we’d discover next.

And it really was start to finish festive magic, with a Christmas ‘tree disco’ leading us into the park and stunning cascade of rainbow light returning us to Obelisk Lawn at the end.

We loved the refreshment pit stop partway around -tucked between the trees it was like stumbling across a mini festival ground.  Perfect for re-energising and warming up!

And fans of the park’s famous Christmas Carousel need not worry -this Windsor Great Park Christmas mainstay has not been forgotten!  Instead it enjoys pride of place at the Grand Finale surrounded by rejuvenating food and drink offerings!

Family Enjoying The Cathedral of Lights

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Behind the scenes at Windsor Illuminated

As with everything at Windsor Great Park the quality of visitor experience and protection of the park are clearly the two top priorities. 

Being a little later to join the Christmas lights trail party meant the team at Windsor Great Park could learn from other attractions and organisations.  Chatting with Nick Day, Head of Engagement, Filming and Events ahead of the Christmas Lights Trail opening, it was immediately evident how much thought, care and attention had been given to every single detail. 

The Rainbow Path at the end of Windso

From finding the best lights display team to which area of the park to showcase right down to the parking arrangements and eco-conscious waste management.  Every aspect has been meticulously designed and planned.

Nick explained that the team wanted to create the most beautiful festive experience they could, all the time stepping cautiously to preserve and protect the ancient woodland and historically important Royal Landscape.  The intention is to develop the experience organically over time, building on visitor feedback and behind-the-scenes learnings.

We love this open embrace of growing year on year and are thrilled to know that Windsor Illuminated will be a permanent part of our annual Christmas celebrations going forwards too!

Irresistible Photogenic Snowman at Windsor Illuminated

Windsor Illuminated with kids

Windsor Illuminated is great for kids.  In fact it’s perfect for all ages! 

Young children will enjoy the complete sensory immersion of the experience, turning each corner to see what’s next.  And they’ll love hugging the perfectly-sized illuminated snowmen dotted along the route (they make for fabulous photo ops too!). 

Horton’s Steam Fair’s Vintage Carousel is sure to be a winner when you reach the top of the Rainbow path at the end.  And whilst Father Christmas is not visiting Windsor Illuminated this year, there is still plenty of North Pole wonder to keep the magic alive!

Vintage Carousel on Obelisk Lawn at Windsor Great Park Illuminated

There is an accessible route for pushchairs and wheelchairs which we thought could be a clever idea if little feet needed a slightly shorter light trail.  However it does mean missing out on a few of the more iconic installations such as the Cathedral of Light.

Older children and teens will appreciate the intrigue of the displays, trying to work out how they operate behind the scenes.  My two boys loved the space to run and interact with the various displays.  The laser woods were a particular favourite for this, with the boys excitedly trying to navigate the green streaks of light. 

We found that the two refreshment areas, combined with the hot chocolate and marshmallows at the very beginning, arrived at perfect intervals to offer a boost for tiring feet and chilly fingertips!

Bespoke Windsor Illuminated Fire Pit
North Norfolk Railway Lights Express

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How long does the Windsor Illuminated light trail take?

All in all we spent just over two hours at Windsor Illuminated. 

My love for light trails meant I could easily have stayed another hour, photographing and savouring the moment.  But I know the rest of my family are more moderate in their enthusiasm(!) and my husband really feels the cold so we kept a reasonable pace throughout. 

In total we walked for around 1.5hrs and the rest of the time was refreshment breaks.

The trail didn’t feel quite as long as some we’ve visited.  However we really didn’t mind that –there was plenty to see and actually the slightly shorter distance meant the boys were happy the whole way around. 

Starry Pathways at Windsor Illuminated

Food and drink at Windsor Great Park Illuminated

With refreshments dotted along the trail, each providing something slightly different, you’re sure to find something to enjoy.

At the pit stop in the middle of the trail there were crepes, mince pies and mulled wine on offer as well as marshmallows to toast at a bespoke Windsor Illuminated fire pit!  The whole area was illuminated by chains of fairy lights and it really had a sort of festival vibe as you walked towards it. 

My husband and I warmed up with mulled wine but there was a queue for the crepes and so the boys decided to hold off until we reached the other main refreshment area at the end. 

Refreshment Stalls Amongst The Fairy-lit Trees

Arriving back at the Obelisk Lawn at the end of the trail we all chose Christmas Cumberland sausage sandwiches, which came with apple sauce and stuffing.  They were really tasty and warmed us up wonderfully as well.  Other offerings included wood-fired pizzas and of course more mulled wine to enjoy whilst you watch your children on the carousel!

There were gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options on offer around the trail too so everyone is catered for.

Hot Food Provision at the end of the Christmas Lights Trail

Shopping at Windsor Illuminated

Whilst there’s only food and drink items for sale along the trail itself, the Savill Garden shop is open during Windsor Illuminated’s opening hours.  We didn’t visit on the night –living next door to the park, I am a regular visitor anyway and prefer to explore without the boys tugging on my sleeve! 

That said if you’re not familiar with the shop, I would highly recommend budgeting some time for a mooch, either before or after your trail –it’s right next to the car park so easy to drop off any purchases. 

The buying team for the shop have an uncanny knack of curating the most fabulous array of gift ideas and it’s seldom that I visit without finding something special that I know will be loved.  The brand selection on offer has been carefully chosen to showcase some of the best of Britain with many eco-conscious and indie business options.

Water Lilies Reflected in Lake at Night-time

Where to park for Windsor Illuminated

You can purchase parking with your Windsor Illuminated ticket and we would highly recommend doing this. 

Whilst of course it does push the price up a bit, there are very limited alternative places to park around Savill Garden.  Additionally the roads in the area are poorly lit, narrow and have no pavement so walking to the light trail could be a little dangerous.

With a parking ticket, it was extremely straightforward.  We hardly queued at all to enter and there were staff ready and waiting to direct us.  And there were plenty of parking spaces in an area of the Savill Garden car park right next to the start of the light trail – this was a huge bonus in our eyes! 

Windsor Great Park Illuminated Trail Entrance & Sign

Are dogs allowed at Windsor Great Park Illuminated trail?

According to the event website dogs are permitted provided they stay on a lead throughout. So you really can bring the whole family along to enjoy the festivities!

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Is Windsor Illuminated worth visiting?

We say a resounding YES!  We absolutely loved the experience and left feeling wonderfully Christmassy!

When done well Christmas light trails offer a magical evening with loved ones.  The opportunity to spend time together – away from distractions and the daily grind, out amongst the elements and surrounded by festive cheer.

And we were really impressed with the level of thought and attention that had gone into making Windsor Illuminated so special.  To be able to enjoy such a beautiful light display just a few miles from London and in this iconic Royal Park is a real treat.  It’s certainly jumped straight into the top 10 Christmas light trails in the country!  

The positioning of the trail along the lake edge meant you were regularly surrounded by reflection and colour across the water.  And the balance of beautiful unique displays to enjoy and opportunities to pause and refresh was spot on.

Yes, it’s an investment but we left with very special family memories which we’ll enjoy for years to come.

Windsor Illuminated Viewed From Across Obelisk Pond

Top tips for visiting Windsor Illuminated

Here are our five top tips for visiting Windsor Great Park Illuminated light trail:

  1. Wear appropriate footwear. Christmas light trails are notorious for getting muddy under foot and Windsor Illuminated weaves through the woodland so there are areas without proper path which could definitely be trickier to navigate in wet conditions.
  2. Be sure to wrap up warm. Fingerless gloves (or ones designed to work with touchscreens) are a great option so you can continue to snap away without the constant need to remove and hold your gloves!
  3. Glow-stick necklaces such as these ones are a great for children at Christmas light trails –they add to the fun and excitement as you arrive and are extremely helpful to keep track as the children run and enjoy the displays.
  4. If you need a comfort break before starting the trail, be sure to head into the Savill Garden building -the toilets are lovely, well-lit and warm!
  5. Remember that batteries drain more quickly in chilly weather so be sure to fully charge your phone or camera battery before you arrive. And bring a power bank or spare battery as back-up (ideally carrying this as close to your body as possible to keep it warm).

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Walking along the Christmas Lights Trail

How can I book Windsor Illuminated tickets?

Windsor Illuminated is running from 18 November 2022 to 9 January 2023 (with the exception of Christmas Day). 

Prices vary depending on date but start at £21.45 per adult and £13.20 per child.  There are family tickets available. 

For latest availability and to book, visit the event website.  

Cathedral of Lights Star

Have you visited Windsor Illuminated?  What did you think?  Looking for another Christmas Light Trail to explore?  Be sure to check out our complete guide and use the interactive map to find your nearest.

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Let’s sprinkle Christmas cheer far and wide!

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