Windsor Great Park is awash with festive colour once again as Windsor Illuminated Christmas lights trail returns to the park for 2022!
Windsor Great Park is awash with festive colour once more as Windsor Illuminated’s Christmas lights trail returns to the park bigger and better than before! 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.
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to have a Christmas Lights Trail in 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’ve been 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.
What to expect at Windsor Illuminated?
Two decades exploring Windsor Great Park meant I thought I 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!
The trail is jam-packed with beautiful displays -from huge swathes of forest covered in light and ancient trees dancing to music right down to the most magnificent holograms I have ever seen.
If you visited the trail last year and were thinking there was no need to return, think again! From beginning to end it is an entirely different experience – difference route, different installations (I only spotted a handful of similarities).
And it really is start to finish festive magic, from the stunning Windsor Castle-esque replica leading you into the park to the incredible fairy tale water display on the way out.
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 on the Obelisk Lawn, joined by a helter skelter friend and surrounded by rejuvenating food and drink offerings!
Looking for your nearest Christmas Lights Trail? Use our interactive map.
Windsor Great Park Illuminated highlights
A cliché I know but I am genuinely struggling to pick a favourite part of the trail. Every corner turned seemed to uncover some new jaw-dropping installation, many of which I have never seen the like of before.
It was the use of holograms that really took the display to the next level. Dotted along the trail, their cutting edge technology gave them an almost other-worldly feel. They were so stunningly beautiful that it was almost impossible to turn away and move on!
They have given a new meaning to the phrase fairy lights!
Dozens of fairy holograms floated in the trees above the trail, illuminating the way and dancing to their very own fairy disco. The music and choreography were very affecting and it made for an incredible display.
We loved how the trail had been split into sections, each with their own character and style. The colourful celebrations of the fairy trail gave way to a more mystical experience in the enchanted wood, where we joined the forest creatures playing amongst the trees. Again the holograms were the star of the show. It was so peaceful and awe inspiring that the bustle of the earlier day washed away whilst I became totally immersed.
Watery fairy magic from beginning to end!
The colourful view and reflection of illuminated trees across Obelisk Pond created a stunning backdrop for a considerable part of the trail.
And the amazing fairy tale display set within a fountain cascade towards the end really took advantage of the trail’s waterside setting. You may even catch a glimpse of a festive icon saying hello 😉
Christmas Light Trails
Discover the 100+ Christmas Light Trails across the country with our complete guide!
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 last year, it was immediately evident how much thought, care and attention had been given to every single detail.
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 was to develop the experience organically over time, building on visitor feedback and behind-the-scenes learnings.
And they have certainly done just that! Windsor Illuminated is without doubt now one of the leading displays in the country and we are thrilled that it will be a permanent part of our annual Christmas celebrations going forwards too!
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. They’ll love hugging the perfectly-sized illuminated snowman and trying out their very own mini fairy wings (they make for fabulous photo ops too!).
Horton’s Steam Fair’s Vintage Carousel & Helter Skelter are sure to be a winner on Obelisk Lawn at the beginning and end of the trail.
And whilst Father Christmas is not visiting Windsor Illuminated this year, there is still plenty of North Pole wonder to keep the magic alive!
Older children and teens will appreciate the intrigue of the displays, trying to work out how they operate behind the scenes. We would genuinely love to know too!
We found that the two refreshment areas arrived at perfect intervals to offer a boost for tiring feet and chilly fingertips!
How long does the Windsor Illuminated light trail take?
All in all we spent just over two hours at Windsor Illuminated.
In total we walked for around 1.5hrs (it’s a 2.2km route) and the rest of the time was refreshment breaks.
We could easily imagine having stayed longer and spent more time both on the trail and in the refreshment areas. But the British weather was trying its best to dampen spirits (read: we visited in torrential rain!) and so we did keep a reasonable pace throughout. That being said, don’t be too dismayed if you experience rain for your visit – the mistiness actually added an extra layer of mystic to the scenes within the woodland.
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, loaded fries and mulled wine / hot chocolate on offer as well as marshmallows to toast in the bespoke Windsor Illuminated fire pits! The whole area was illuminated by chains of fairy lights and it really had a sort of festival vibe as you walked towards it.
At the Obelisk Lawn at the beginning and end of the trail, another group of food trucks were eager to keep you warm from the inside out, with wood-fired pizzas and burgers. The mistletoe bar was undercover (a much appreciated escape from the elements during our visit), with a fire pit and its very own Christmas tree decorated by local school children. Our chilli chorizo pizza was really tasty.
There were gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options on offer around the trail too so everyone is catered for.
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.
Do budget 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.
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!
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, even with the weather’s best attempts to derail the evening!
Honestly with those holograms, you will not regret it!!
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 memories which we’ll enjoy for years to come.
Top tips for visiting Windsor Illuminated
Here are our five top tips for visiting Windsor Great Park Illuminated light trail:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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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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 £19.25 per adult and £11.00 per child (2yrs and under go free). There are family tickets available.
For latest availability and to book, visit the event website.
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