Saturday, 25th November 2017 – Christmas Trail, Blenheim Palace
Having been to the event in 2016 we were quite keen to do the Blenheim Palace Christmas Trail again in 2017 and so booked ourselves in good and early, which meant we had a good choice of dates (though the Saturday slots were filling up fast even at this stage) and got an early slot on Saturday evening. We figured it would be properly dark by then, but that we might still get back home at a sensible time afterwards and so at around 16:00 we pulled into the swamp that they were passing off as a park’n’ride car park and at least found we were close to the bus stop so didn’t have to wade through too much of the morass to get to it. 10 minutes later we were disembarking in front of the house. and were ready to wander into the gardens and enjoy the lights, the music and the fire displays, along with hopefully a mulled wine or other festive drink. It wasn’t quite dark as we made our way to the courtyard but it soon would be.
The courtyard had some children’s rides set up and seemed busier than it had on our previous visit, possibly because we were so much earlier this time. The front of the house was lit up and the path to the trail was also well-illuminated with snowflake patterned lights that entertained the smaller visitors and some of the larger ones as well.
This year the trail went in the opposite direction and right from the start it seemed obvious to us that they had indeed upped their game considerably over the previous event.
The trees were illuminated in a variety of colours, and there were a number of Christmas trees, both old-fashioned and strikingly modern.
As we neared the lake it was clear that a lot more effort had gone in there too with dancing lights and glowing undergrowth much in evidence. Santa’s hut was similar to last year, and the fairy-light walkway was again present and correct and was proving a major draw to the romantically inclined, especially as there was a small gazebo-like area where they could step off the path and take selfies together.
We moved along the path through star-trimmed trees and then arrived at the lakeside where dancing lights changed colour all the time.
Once more we wandered through the woods before we reached a slope where a waterfall of lights entertained us for a while.
There were all sorts of things to delight the eye, including large baubles in various colours…
A series of illuminated pathways…
Spooky lights in the trees…
And a bridge festooned with multi-coloured bulbs.
A maze-like way through the trees led us down towards the waterfalls, where music, lights and fire provided a spectacular stopping off point to watch what would happen next.
Actually what happened next was we stopped at the collection of stalls on the other side of the pathway to pick up a mulled wine and try and thaw out a bit as it was a very cold night, and I spent ages trying to get a definitive shot of the fire jets.
Suitably fortified, and certain we’d seen the whole cycle of music/lights/fire, we went on our way, next coming across another lawn full of lights, these cascading down the slope towards us in waves of varying colours, until the whole surface was alight. It would then start again with a gentle trickle, building to a repeated crescendo.
We were almost immediately back with the spooky trees before we stepped inside a frame of glowing strands of tiny lights. The entrancing effects seemed to stop most people in their tracks and as a result we all slowed right down to take as many photos as possible. There is definitely something especially magical about being inside the lights rather than outside looking at them, even if it could make your eyes cross if you looked at it the wrong way! It was a bit like being inside a special effect…
A further section of the path took us to the Christmas elf, who was very cheerful and ready to wave at everyone who came past.
The final piece de resistance was the house itself though. The water gardens that we needed to walk through to get to the end of the trail were lit too, as was the house, and on a still, clear night it reflected in the water to breathtaking effect, especially as it kept changing colour too.
And on the way out we discovered a pop-up cocktail bar doing Winter cocktails, so we had to stop and have one. It would have been churlish not to.
A quick nose in the shop and we were ready to go home. An empty shuttle bus was waiting for us as we reached the stop so we were very soon home and able to thaw out thoroughly.