The Blenheim Palace illuminated night trail – there’s no better way to spend a dark, dank December evening.
Booked more in hope than judgement, it was a pleasant surprise to see the show go on, so we along with thousands of others escaped our tier 3 lockdown for a night of freedom in Oxfordshire.
All wrapped we were with big coat over layers and layers, a hat, scarf, gloves, thick socks and walking boots. At first, all this couldn’t keep out the cold until somehow the glow of the lights warmed away the biting frost.
The light show began in the Great Court with lasers dancing to classical Christmas music majestically irradiating the Palace in pastel greens, reds, yellows and blues.
The colonnades along either side featured more than a dozen Christmas trees, each with warm white lights shimmering in the freezing fog.
We then hit the walking trail which starts alongside the great lake then snakes past the boathouse towards the beautifully lit Grand Cascade.
Up hill, down dale, through light tunnels and over bridges the walk eventually takes us into the Churchill Memorial Gardens with the Temple of Diana where Winston proposed to Clementine.
His stunning statue seems almost luminescent with the piercing floodlight somehow evoking the great man’s iron will, insight and humanity.
From here we completed our stroll at the formal gardens which were lit with hundreds of scented fire lanterns, a fitting climax to the hour-long walk.
It would have been beautiful enough in the grounds without the light show. This year it included new installations such as the Blue Neuron and Heart of Stars scattering shards of light across the lawn.
Our journey took us through dynamic, colour-changing neon tunnels, past ethereal reflections on the lake and mesmerising displays such as the fairy-fire known as Will-o-the-Wisps. Each light show was set to music from Christmas classics to stirring symphonies.
Before last night I’d always associated illuminations with Blackpool, downmarket and a bit tacky. Here at Blenheim it was quite the contrary, a night brightened by light that lifted the spirits.