Something I did a few years ago, was Christmas at Dunham Massey. That was a press trip, I was paid to go and review the attraction – this year, Mike got us tickets to attend as a family as we enjoyed our last visit so much. It’s an incredibly popular event and the nights sell out quickly, so I didn’t expect to be able to share the magic of Christmas at Dunham Massey with Ted – I’m overjoyed that we managed to go!
Dunham Massey is a National Trust gem, located in Cheshire. It’s a Georgian house with a garden for all seasons, with a celebrated deer park also on the property. The house and gardens are filled with a colourful history including a married couple who lived in separate wings of the impressive estate – which irked the husband so much he attempted to write his wife out of the history of the house. The gardens are wonderfully stocked with familiar fauna as well as some more exotic rarities, and it’s the perfect setting for a magical Christmas celebration.
As you enter the gates of the Christmas trail, you can already catch a glimpse of the first installation that awaits you. Two giant reindeer overlook the pathway and immediately give you that festive feeling. Surrounded by up-lit trees, they’re a beautiful and imposing sight.
Following the winding trail, a familiar song soon starts to filter through the excited chatter of people around you. It’s Elsa, of Disney Frozen fame. With ‘Let it go’ causing every parent to immediately begin singing along, it’s hard to not join in – children are excited and exclaiming that they know the festive favourite, and the magical light around them adds to the excitement.
Glitter balls are settled into the ground, reflecting light in all directions and causing a beautiful icey blue hue around the area.
The pathway is then swallowed up by darkness once again, before these delicate little roses come into view. Surrounding either side of the pathway, they look ethereal and certainly captured my heart!
Soon splashed of colour begin to replace the white roses, in the form of these wonderful snow drop inspired lights. They look wonderful in person, especially against those up-lit gardens.
The pathways can be a little claustrophobic if it’s at a peak time, and the only advice I can really give is to just go with the flow. People will stop ahead of you to take selfies, to snap a picture – it’s so photogenic, it’s expected. Some queues formed for popular viewing spots which overlooked various installations, although people were generally in a festive mood and were incredibly accommodating of those pushing prams. I did also notice a few people with restricted mobility who were taken care of on the trails – it can be a little daunting in the darkness however so keep that in mind.
When you come into the clearing with a soundtrack punctuated by the explosion of fireworks (at an enjoyable volume, not an assault on your ears) it’s immediately mesmerising as the lights around you on the trees rise and fall with the music. Colours ripple around you, from the ground up into the farthest branches of the trees in the area – again, people often collect in this enjoyable exhibit to enjoy the ambience so take your time.
The imposing field of lights is absolutely stunning. I remember this fondly from my visit back in 2017, although they’ve made some changes – from fibre optic lights, to these wonderful chunky spheres. They still have the same dreamy effect, with colours flooding the field in various patterns. There are a number of viewing points for this, but the staging area of light up benches provides one of the most glorious views.
There are regular shows held at a pavilion just before the tunnel of light featuring Mr Claus himself and the Elves have a singalong towards the beginning of the trail. There’s also some other surprises along the way – huts selling hot mulled drinks, a marshmallow stall with an open fire to roast them on (marshmallows are £1.50!) as well as tea and coffee vendors.
Before the trail even begins, you can visit various festive vendors from mulled wine and cider to halloumi fries and bratwursts – something worth considering if you arrive a little earlier and need to warm your bones!
This is the pinnacle of the event – a beautiful tunnel, illuminated with thousands of tiny flower shaped lights. As you make your way through, Ave Maria serenaded you softly – it’s something quite striking. This is a huge bottleneck if people taking photographs and is incredibly busy, but it’s worth it. The lights are safe to touch, meaning Ted got to grips with them and was completely enthralled – I can’t imagine how magical the entire night felt for the little guy!
Tickets for Christmas at Dunham Massey are £17.50 for adults (there’s a £7 parking charge also!) and £11 for children over the age of 3 years. Those under 3 are free. The event runs from the 13th of November all the way until the 30th of December but remember – dates are now incredibly limited as it’s a hugely popular event, so if you want to experience the magic yourself then book your tickets now to avoid any disappointment!