Westonbirt Arboretum (try saying that five times after you’ve had a couple of pints) is located just a few miles out of Tetbury on the Bath Rd – just past Highgrove Estate which is, of course, the home of Prince Charles. More on that when I tell you about Tetbury.
What’s an arboretum, I hear you ask? Essentially it’s a botanical collection of trees – a tree garden if you like – and Westobnirt is the most important one in the UK. At Christmas time – and, I suspect Autumn – it’s also completely magical.
From the end of November through to Christmas fairies cast a spell over the trees to turn them into an enchanted woodland trail.
If you’re very lucky you might even see one of the sprites as they dart in and out of the trees…way too quickly for the camera lens to pick up.
In all seriousness, I came across Enchanted Christmas through a Tetbury hashtag on Instagram – my usual way of researching things to do in an area – and it looked like a lot of fun. Plus, it just so happened that the final night of the display was the Sunday we were in Tetbury – so tickets were booked.
While this is a family-themed activity with actors dressed up as woodland fairies straight out of a Midsummer’s Dream fantasy, and enough Santa and Christmas craft activities to keep the kids entranced, it had plenty to charm big kids like us too.
The trail was full when we were on it, but thanks to tickets being issued for specific timeslots, not overcrowded. There were, however, times when we were shuffling a tad due to prams and the like. #whatever
Despite some drizzle earlier in the day we were lucky to score a clear night that was cold, but nothing we weren’t prepared for. The path underfoot was a tad soggy and not as muddy as I’d expected it to be.
We’d had a light dinner before we came out, but if not there’s food and drink available at the Christmas Village – along with some funfair activities.
Plus, there’s a mini-village at the halfway point. We bought some mulled wine to sip as we walked around.
In 2018 Westonbirt’s illuminations were voted the best in Britain, but if you can’t make it to Tetbury, Blenheim Palace also does fabulous Christmas illuminations, and Christmas At Kew sells out their program every year.
Enchanted Christmas usually runs from 4pm – 9pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from the last weekend in November through to the weekend before Christmas.
The timeslots fill up quickly so it’s best to plan ahead if you want to go along. I booked our tickets about a month out and there weren’t many spots left on the trail.
Tickets cost (in 2019) £15 per adult and £7.50 for children.