I visited the Christmas lights trail at National Trust's Belton House near Grantham and it was magical
Festive light displays have become a tradition for many and, after visiting the magical Christmas at Belton trail, I have no trouble understanding why.
For me, the Christmas season started on November 1 as I drove to work with Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé blasting from the car speakers - please don’t judge me, I get enough eye rolls from my friends and family. With festive energy to rival Buddy the Elf, Christmas practically becomes my whole personality.
And if I wasn’t already feeling sufficiently festive, my cheer levels rose tenfold after a stroll around Belton House’s Christmas light trail.
During the run up to the opening night on Friday (November 24), I religiously checked my weather app manifesting it would be dry and, thankfully, my Christmas wishes came true (although temperatures were bordering on sub-zero).
The trail is known for its ‘Instagrammable’ backdrops but I would advise to care less about fashion and instead focus on wrapping up warm. It is so pretty you could be wearing a bin bag and still not ruin the photo.
Joining me on the trail was my mum Tina. Although I blame her for my love of all things festive, she has the rather radical opinion that Christmas can’t start until the first door is opened on the advent calendar.
But, having visited the trail for the first time last year, I was confident this would get her in the festive mood a week earlier than scheduled.
As we pulled into Belton, fairy lights and Christmas trees dazzled against the backdrop of the setting sun. Hearing a ‘wow’ from next to me I explained these weren’t actually part of the trail and ushered us towards the courtyard to start the trail.
Feeling slightly chilly after leaving the toasty car, we decided to grab a hot chocolate - luxury of course - to slurp on as we walked around. Although we didn’t indulge in a snack, there are plenty of food stalls as well as traditional fairground rides.
Right from the very start, the trail was spectacular. It didn’t feel like it was building up to some big finale at the end, instead it remained consistently impressive throughout.
A mesmerising explosion of colours contrasts against winter darkness – complimented by a seasonal soundtrack specific to each section.
As you walk through the music, selected by Sony, effortlessly fades from one song to the next, with all genres getting their time to shine.
Some moments of the trail, such as the kaleido carpet, are so groovy you really have to fight the urge to boogie, while others feel totally ethereal.
The light trail follows a circular route, winding through woodland paths bedecked with dazzling displays and passing trees alive with colour.
Usually fast walkers, we were overtaken by many other families as we stood with our mouths open enchanted by the incredible projections.
At the boating lake, a perfectly-timed fountain and laser light show set to the songs Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Jingle Bells is on par with the spectacle of those at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
An avenue lit by small flames was beautifully reflective and moving and, for a moment, provided a blanket of warmth against the crisp evening air.
A new addition this year was a handful of wicker story book characters. I’m not sure whether it was the dim lighting or dramatic music they were paired with, but it felt an eerie scene, which was somewhat juxtaposed with the rest of the trail.
“You definitely would have been scared of these as a kid,” mum joked - although take that as you will as the Teletubbies gave me nightmares to be fair.
A sparkling flock of jolly robins and contemporary Christmas trees displaying all the colours of the rainbow lifted our spirits, while candy cane lane had us living out all of our fairytale dreams.
At this time of the year, I can’t open social media without seeing pictures of people posing in the, now somewhat iconic, tunnel of lights. With its warm yet brightly lit flowers giving an influencer’s ring light a run for its money, I have to admit I followed the crowds and put a picture on my own page. Rude not to, right?
It is said that pictures speak a thousand words and, despite leaving with a selection of stunning snaps, seeing the lights first hand is the only way to truly appreciate their grandeur.
The trail is truly a feast for all the senses to enjoy.
The Christmas at Belton trail is open until Sunday, December 31 and it is no surprise that tickets are selling fast.
Tickets start at £15 for adults, £10 children, £47 for a family of four.
Parking costs £8 per car but is free for National Trust members when booked in advance.
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