Windsor Great Park is awash with festive colour once again as Windsor Illuminated Christmas lights trail returns to the park for 2023!

A Jolly Festive Exclusive
Windsor Illuminated Christmas Light Trail Santa Claus Water Hologram.

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.  From time to time we may share affiliate links – this means we may earn a small commission when you click on such links, at no additional cost to you.

The Tunnel of Light With A Starry Night Design at Windsor Great Park

The view down the Tunnel of Light during Hannah’s Visit To 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!  Whilst the route is the same as that of 2022 and some firm favourites have returned (more expansive than before), there are a whole host of new installations to enjoy.  We were pleasantly surprised by how many new designs there were to explore.

And it really is start to finish festive magic.  From the fabulous welcome, down a pathway of floodlit trees to admire the ever-changing Crown, right through 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.  And now it’s joined by helter skelter & mini carousel friends, and surrounded by rejuvenating food and drink offerings!

Looking for your nearest Christmas Lights Trail?  Use our interactive map.

Helter Skelter at Windsor Great Park Illuminated

Helter Skelter on Obelisk Lawn With The Iconic Carousel

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 stunning installation.  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 jaw-droppingly beautiful that it was almost impossible to turn away and move on!

They have given a new meaning to the phrase fairy lights!

Last year’s Fairy Trail is back but now takes a more key role in the trail with a fairy & dragon theme loosely providing a story arc for the whole event.   

The Fairy Queen welcomes visitors to the Trail, and shares a message of farewell at the end too.  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.

Fairy Hologram Windsor Illuminated

A Fairy Hologram Dancing on the Fairy Trail

Tree-mendous Creations

The colourful celebrations of the fairy trail give way once again to a more mystical experience in the enchanted wood.  And we found ourselves joined by the forest creatures (mythical and real) playing amongst the trees. 

For me, however, this year, these moonstruck holograms was surpassed by the fabulous Laser Symphony in the trees.  They were choreographed so perfectly that plenty of us stood watching, mesmerised for quite some time.

A Caution: Dragon Crossing Sign In Front Of Brightly Coloured Floodlit Trees at Windsor Christmas Light Trail

Dragon Crossing Sign Amongst The Floodlit Trees

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.  Complete with a flying visit from the Man in Red … literally!  (Cue squeals of delight from the young folk all around me.)

Multi-coloured dragon hologram in water fountain, with reflection on Obelisk Pond below and illuminated trees in the background.

Dragon Water Hologram over Obelisk Pond

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 previously, 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!

Series of Light Discs Standing In a Row at the Swirl Pools of Windsor Illuminated

The Swirl Pools at Windsor Great Park Christmas Lights

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 meeting the hologram Fairy Queen and trying out their very own mini fairy wings (they make for fabulous photo ops too!).

Horton’s Steam Fair’s Vintage Carousels & 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, 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!

Fairy Wings Windsor Christmas Lights

Fairy Wings Windsor Christmas Lights

How long does the Windsor Illuminated light trail take?

All in all we spent just over two hours at Windsor Illuminated.  We walked for around 1.5hrs (it’s a 2.2km route) and the rest of the time was refreshment breaks.

This was just right to allow us to properly soak up the experience in each section without getting too chilly.  As it happens this year, the weather conditions were just perfect for our visit.  I have however previously visited in the freezing cold, and the torrential rain.  To be honest, the visits were similar lengths for all three.  We just lingered a little longer in the refreshment areas this time.

One thought on the weather front –don’t be too dismayed if you experience rain for your visit.  The mistiness adds an extra layer of mystic to the scenes within the woodland, and the light reflections in the puddles were surprisingly photogenic!

Illuminated Trees on far side of Obelisk Pond in the dusk at Windsor Great Park Illuminated.

View across Obelisk Pond with Illuminated Trees at Windsor Great Park

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 had a sort of cute winter 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.  We enjoyed wood-fired pizzas (the truffle pizza got a thumbs up from my friend), jumbo hot dogs (very tasty even if I do say so myself) and mac’n’cheese (again, good reports on the truffle-infused one).  And there’s a couple of huge fire pits dotted around for warming up and toasting marshmallows here too.

The bar this year has space undercover, a number of covered alpine-style picnic tables dotted nearby and a number of mulled drinks on offer in addition to the usual bar fare.  

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

Man Preparing Hot Dog with Onions at Food Stall at Windsor Christmas Light Trail.

Hannah’s Hot Dog Being Prepared At Windsor Great Park Illuminated 2023

Where to park for Windsor Illuminated

Parking is available right at the entrance to Windsor Illuminated and must be purchased in advance, at the time of booking your Christmas light trail tickets.

Whilst it isn’t compulsory to buy a parking ticket, we strongly recommend it.  There are very limited alternative places to park around Savill Garden (read: basically none).  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 the well-lit Savill Garden car park right next to the start of the light trail. This was a huge bonus in our eyes!

Purple Illuminated Entrance to the Windsor Illuminated Christmas Light Trail.

Entrance to the Windsor Illuminated Christmas Light Trail

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!

Small Log Cabin Style Picnic Tables at The Bar at Windsor Illuminated 2023

Alpine-style Bar at Windsor Illuminated 2023

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.

Spira Multicoloured Tree Shaped Lights Stretching Into the Distance

The Spira-Light Forest at Windsor Great Park

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).
People Standing at Food Huts At The Midway Refreshment Hub.

Hungry Elves Refreshment Hub Along Windsor Great Park Illuminated Trail

How can I book Windsor Illuminated tickets?

Windsor Illuminated is running from 16 November 2023 to 2 January 2024 (with the exception of Christmas Day).

Prices vary depending on date but start at £19.80 per adult and £12.10 per child (2yrs and under go free).  There are family tickets available.

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

The Iconic Classic Carousel at Windsor Great Park With Open Fire Pit In Foreground

The Iconic Carousel at Windsor Great Park Christmas Light Trail

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.

Looking for more inspiration?

And be sure to check out our our free Christmas game ideas – from quizzes to Taskmaster, Would You Rather to Mince Pie Taste Test Parties, there’s something for everyone!

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