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The UK’s Best Botanical Gardens to visit this Christmas

Botanical gardens this Christmas are having a moment in the UK. They’re glorious to explore during the spring, summer, and autumn months, to admire colourful plants, trees, and shrubs. However, you should also consider venturing to one in winter.

Although some plants disappear from view when the temperature drops, some of the best botanical gardens in the UK put on a magical, botanical, Christmas light trail and display! This creates the perfect excuse to book a long weekend away. So spend the weekend shopping and strolling through the grounds of a botanical garden to gaze at Christmas lights.

In this blog, we are going to share some of our favourite UK botanical gardens that have their lights on at Christmas.

botanical gardens Christmas lights

Botanical Gardens Christmas Opening Hours

Usually, you can wake up and walk around these gardens at your leisure. However, to see the Christmas lights at a botanical garden, you will need to plan ahead and book your Christmas light show ticket before arriving.

The best time of day to see Christmas lights in a botanical garden is from 4 pm. For best results, go on a clear night from December to January during a Christmas break.

Which Botanical Gardens in the UK can I visit at Christmas?

Visit the Christmas lights at Kew Gardens, London

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew is home to over 50,000 living plants. Each one can be seen within the grounds of its UNESCO World Heritage site throughout the year. However, a visit to the botanical gardens at Christmas becomes an enchanting experience!

In December, follow a magical trail throughout an illuminated Rose Garden! At 2.6km long, the trail will take you 75 minutes. As you admire light installations, wander through glittering tunnels, and past twinkling trees, and make your way to a wonderful, treetop waterfall!

To see the lights at Kew Botanical Gardens this Christmas, book your tickets and a time slot in advance. This will ensure some festive fun for everyone in your party. With a stunning light show that dances to the tune of some well-known Christmas classics, the finale will be one not to miss.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland

As a scientific centre for the study of different plants and conservation, this botanical garden can offer you formal and informal education programmes. Here, you can spend a day learning about the natural world at the Botanics.

Then in the evening, the botanical gardens become a world full of surprises! Gasp at giant baubles and snowflakes before pausing for thought in the flickering fire garden. Laugh at the bouncing, bright lines of lights in the laser garden! Or look at luminescent sculptures that rise into the dark night sky! You can also watch choreographed beams of light, which dance across the historic Inverleith House that was gifted to the crown in 1877.

botanical gardens Christmas light show

Are you a member of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh? Discounted tickets are usually available!

The Eden Project near St Austell, Cornwall

The location of the Eden Project was originally a working clay pit. However, the pit now holds an outside botanical garden, where plants and wildlife native to Cornwall live. Inside the project’s two large Biomes, you can explore a huge Mediterranean climate and the world’s largest indoor rainforest!

For a Christmas experience at The Eden Project in December, following a festive trail through the gardens! The route will take you around the tropical Rainforest Biome, with a backdrop of shadows and light.  The Mediterranean Biome is full of thousands of twinkling lights, which dance within a magical world, accompanied by Christmas music.

If you have fond memories of ice skating, finish the day out on the ice! The Eden Project has a glittering ice rink, where you and the family can focus on your feet during a 40-minute skating session.

Some estates across the UK also light up their grand gardens with unique Christmas light trails for guests…

Which gardens in the UK have Christmas Light Trails?

botanical gardens Christmas trail

Gardens in Dorset – Kingston Lacy and Gibside, Gateshead

Curated by The National Trust, take your pick of two magical trails at Gibside (an 18th Century landscape garden) in Gateshead or Kingston Lacy, a lavish family home in rural Dorset. Full of “light, lanterns, fire and fantasy” and backing music from industry specialists Sony Music, take a moment to reflect or dance with the stars and spheres.

An Illuminated Light Trail in Oxfordshire  

Blenheim Palace is surrounded by formal gardens that can take you on a journey through the styles of the ages. When it’s time to wrap up warm, you can take a trip along an illuminated Light Trail. On route, take in breath-taking light displays, the scattering shards of lights, and walk through colour-changing neo tunnels.

Although there will be lighting sequences, you might want to know that some flashing lights will be contained within them. However, strobe lighting will not be used within the lighting designs. By following the guidelines on photosensitive epilepsy, the event organisers have adhered to the industry standard of synchronising effects and locking the sequences. This will ensure that the lights will not operate at more than five flashes per second. Find more detailed information about the event.

After deciding which botanical garden to visit this Christmas, find some accommodation to rest in after viewing the lights…

Accommodation for a Christmas Garden Trail Break

  • For the Christmas season, experience the best of London by booking a Christmas apartment for a comfortable home from home stay, complete with warm, inviting spaces and self-catering facilities.
  • Try a cosy Christmas cottage to curl up in, with a roaring log fire. After a walk around the botanical gardens at Christmas, indulge yourself with hot mince pies and your choice of beverage.
  • Wake up to the sound of the waves during a stay in a beach retreat in Cornwall, taking a dip is optional! The charming village of Mousehole, South West Cornwall, has one of the best Christmas lights displays too!
  • A fully fitted farmhouse in Scotland brimming with character. Half an hour from Edinburgh’s city centre, over looking farm, hill and dale relax after your whimsical Christmas trail.botanical gardens Christmas garland

Remember that in the event that your accommodation provider suffers financial failure before or after your departure, End of Supplier Failure cover will kick in when you take out a Free Spirit Super Duper policy. View our summary of benefits, for each level of cover.

This Christmas at any botanical garden, it may be easy to pretend you’re somewhere over the rainbow! To enjoy some escapism this winter, travel with peace of mind by taking Free Spirit UK Travel Insurance with you.

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