Activities Autumn bonfire night Days In Ideas Festival of Light Half term

Fantastic Illuminations

Written by Lucy Cousins

Fantastic illuminations from across the UK,
Lighting up the streets and showing the way!
There are torches and candles, lanterns and LEDs,
Shining so bright and being mesmerising!

The time of lights and illuminations is upon us. Is there anything that sings wholesomeness like hot chocolate and seeing the festival lights shine through the crisp winter evening? We have brought together some of the best light festivals from across the UK. Hopefully, you can make one this year.

Bristol Light Festival

2 February 2024 – 11 February 2024

Bristol Light Festival will be returning from the 2nd – 11 February; this is one of the latest (or earliest, depending on how you view it) light shows to end in 2023 – as it is scheduled for February 2024! Regardless, it is a phenomenal show and a perfect place to spend time with the family. Bristol Light Festival brings installations from across the world, with international artists visiting year after year. As an award-winning show, there has been an increase in the number of people who come to visit, which goes to show the interaction and interest this festival brings to the city. Find out more here.

Longleat Festival of Light – presents ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and treasured tales’

11th November 2023 – 7th January 2024

The Festival of Light at Longleat is by far one of the greatest light shows in the UK! A visit will put your family in a magical Christmas story. This year, the winsome theme is ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Other Treasured Tales’, exhibiting life-sized lanterns of the iconic characters and acts. As you stroll around the grounds, you’ll see scenes from other treasured tales such as Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, Peter Pan and more.
The familiar favourites will be present too, so you can board the Santa Train for a trip to the magical North Pole and witness the dazzling Christmas Light Show, which illuminates the Longleat House, and the enchanted singing Christmas tree is back! Featuring songs and carols that will get everyone smiling as the snow machine elevates the experience. Buy through Picniq for an exclusive 5% off.

Blackpool Illuminations

20th – 28th October 2023

Blackpool has been delighting visitors for 140 years. Visiting its fantastic illuminations is like witnessing every inch of the city ablaze with LEDs. This year, the Blackpool Tower will be transformed with story projections, with ‘the Nickelodeon Projection Show’, which is fantastic for any SpongeBob SquarePants, Transformers and Paw Patrol fans. Additionally, there are other projection stories like the space exploration in ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ and the aquatic journey in ‘Enchanted Blackpool’. If you wander through the city you can see the Terrific Tableaux, the Illuminated Tram Tours and the 1000s of lights in the display.

They begin at the start of September and continue until 1 January. The time for switching on the lights depends on the date, so check their website for further information.

Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

17 November–31 December 2023

From 17 November to 31 December, Chester Zoo will be lit up at nighttime with a fantastic nighttime lantern show. Across the zoo, there are colour-changing displays of life-sized lantern animals. As you walk around, there is a beautiful Winter Cathedral tunnel of lights to catch a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer.
This is the perfect sparkly trip for the whole family, filling you with festive joy. Discover more here.

The Winter Droving in Penrith

28th October 2023

The Winter Droving has a Light Festival programme that rivals others! As you step into the crowds, you’ll see droves of masks holding onto torches in the infamous torchlight parade. Spectators also wear their colourful creations in an alternative high-quality event, which will bring your family back for years at a time. In their own words, the Winter Droving involves “fire, music, masks and mayhem.”

If you get a team together, you can compete in the annual Drovers Cup, a much sought-after title awarded to one group after they complete heats that involve egg throwing, hay bale racing and tug-o-war. Visit their website for more information.

Sarum Lights: Illuminating Art, Salisbury

7th – 11th November 2023

Tremendous projections of art and photography adorn the walls of Salisbury Cathedral. The outside and inside will be lit with Pre-Raphaelite and Impressionist art. The colours will flood across the open spaces, creating a beautiful art light show. The finale will showcase Rossetti, Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and others!
Even if you’re not an art fan, you will enjoy the projections performed in time with music. This show has sold out for the last two years, so booking your tickets in advance is highly recommended.

Light Night Leeds

12th – 13th October 2023

At Light Night Leeds, you’ll see the beautiful merge of art meeting lights! Across the city, different art light shows with local, national and international artists performing for the public.
Leeds will become unrecognisable for these two nights in October as the indoor and outdoor spaces are transformed with mesmerising installations and fantastic illuminations. Find out more details here.

River of Light Festival, Liverpool

27th October – 5th November 2023

Across Liverpool’s Waterfront, you’ll discover the mesmerising and illuminating gallery, which features music and light art from location national and international artists.
You can walk amongst humongous, glowing, iridescent bubbles or discover a room full of dancing ribbons! One installation is a piece called ‘Light Looper’, an interactive, multi-player game that shoots lights around the sculpture. Wherever you end up, it will be a bright and fun evening for the whole family. Find out more details on their website.

Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival

17th – 19th November 2023

Watch as Oxford city centre transforms for three days of light and sound installations! Alongside the many impressive light installations and displays, there will be a festive market, live music, dances, installations, exhibitions and lots of free activities in venues across the city. One recent addition is the creation of light trails and events within the residential areas of the city. The dates are TBC from Oxford, but more information will follow once it’s been announce formally, check here for updates.

Light Up Lancaster

2nd – 4th November 2023

Light Up Lancaster is taking place on 4-5 November, with an incredible display of unique light-themed installations and activities. The festival theme is Flights of the Imagination, which aspires to enchant and transport audiences into a luminous and glowing world without boundaries through sensational light art installations and participatory exhibitions. All of the light installations are free and within walking distance of each other. The festival draws to a close with the Firework Spectacular, which starts at 8pm on Saturday and can be viewed from across Lancaster. 

Assuming you want to know where’s best to go, a ‘Light Up Lancaster Trail’ can be downloaded from the free LoyalFree app via the App Store. A printed map from the Lancaster Visitor Information Centre in Storey Gardens will be available a couple of weeks before the event. Look at their website for more information.

Do you know any more fab and free activities? We’d really love to know! Someone else might love it, and really want to go! If you’ve got ideas, suggestions or reviews, you can shout all about it on whatever channel you choose!

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