Editor Note: This Westonbirt Enchanted Christmas review and the accompanying photos are based on our visits in both 2019 and 2020. We’ve noted where things are a little different this year due to the current restrictions and we’ve also noted which year the photos were taken in. Please note that we were given free entry on both occasions in exchange for some social media coverage, but our photos, thoughts and opinions are our own – just like always.
Despite all the trials and tribulations of this unsightly year, Scott and I have recently enjoyed a magical evening at Westonbirt Arboretum for their Enchanted Christmas event.
This is the second consecutive year we’ve visited it together and the third time I’ve been there in total.
My first time was many years ago when the event was much smaller. But the event has gotten bigger and better with each year – and much more popular!
If you’ve been wondering whether Westonbirt’s Christmas event is worth it then the short answer is yes. Read on to find out why.
Our Westonbirt Enchanted Christmas Review
We want this review to be as evergreen as possible, so while we’ve highlighted where there are some differences this year compared with other years, we’ve used our experiences from both 2019 and 2020 to help us write it.
Once you’ve parked up and made your way over to where all the magic happens, you’ll find yourself at the Christmas Village.
Here, you’ll find various food and drink stalls selling anything from burgers and foot-long bratwurst sausages to crêpes and mulled wine.
Average prices are around £5 for most things, so bring plenty of cash with you. Some places also accept cards, but it’s best to bring some cash so you’re covered everywhere.
In 2019, there were lots of funfair rides and games in the Christmas Village, including a large ferris wheel and a carousel, among other fun things, which we hope to see back in 2021.
However, these aren’t there this year for obvious reasons, so the Christmas Village does have a slightly different feel from previous years.
But please don’t judge it too harshly! Just like with everything this year, we’ll take what we can get!
There were also some gift stalls inside the canopied seating area last year too.
This year, there is a canopied area but there are no gift stalls and less benches as well. Probably to avoid people congregating for a long time and making it busier than it needs to be right now.
Anyway, back to the gift stalls from last year. There were various awesome things on offer – even a guy making his own woodwork creations right there in the tent!
We also spied some festive chocolate treats last year that we hope we’ll see again another year as they looked amazing!
On both years, there were pretty little Christmas trees dotted around the Christmas Village, which look so festive.
The photo above shows a close up of one of them from 2019, which also gives you a glimpse of the large canopied area they had last year for eating and drinking away from the cold.
But do remember that the canopied area is smaller in 2020 to avoid large crowds.
Note that you’ll be able to explore the Christmas Village after the illuminated light trail too, so don’t worry if you run out of time beforehand looking at everything.
We usually go straight for the trail and then spend some time afterwards looking around the Christmas Village when it’s perhaps a bit quieter and there’s no pressure to rush around.
Now for the main event!
You’ll be given a time when you have to start the light trail. This is to ensure it doesn’t get too busy, so you can enjoy your visit as much as possible.
The beginning of the trail usually starts with large frames you walk through. Last year, they were straight, and this year, they’re in more of a diagonal style.
After that, you’ll find lights everywhere – in the trees, under the trees, on the trees – everywhere!
This was probably our favourite light display from 2019. The star you can see in the middle spun around and around, which was so mesmerising!
And this year, the lights you can see below caught our eye as they looked so pretty suspended from a large tree. And the surrounding fog made everything look so atmospheric!
Westonbirt’s Enchanted Christmas event also tells a different story each year through actors and light projections.
Admittedly, this is mainly for children, but it’s still a bit of fun as an adult to follow along with it.
Last year, it was a magical fairy theme, and this year you’ll go on an adventurous journey to the “West Pole”.
We’re already looking forward to hearing what next year’s theme might be. We’ll let you know as soon as we know!
Normally, you can expect some of the lights to be interactive. That’s different for this year because it’s probably best not to touch anything these days.
But usually, there are various displays that children (and adults!) can get involved with such as pressing buttons to light up trees in time to musical sounds and stuff like that.
Despite everything, Westonbirt Arboretum has done a good job this year with adding some interactivity via the actors and various things they want you to get involved with like stamping your feet to help Santa’s reindeer fly and a fun panto-like scene involving Santa and some silly elves.
But even if you’re not here for the story, Westonbirt’s Enchanted Christmas is such a fun event!
There are also a few food and drink stalls along the way for sumptuous treats like mulled wine and doughnuts!
Here’s what it looked like in 2019…
In 2020, the benches aren’t there to avoid people gathering in large crowds, but the doughnuts still smelled divine as we walked past!
If you’re visiting as a couple without children, it’s probably best to go later at night as it’s quieter and more romantic that way.
We were actually quite surprised at how busy it was this year given the current situation, so if you’re nervous about that then it might be best to go for one of the later showings such as from 7.30pm onwards.
Also note that most people wear wellies or walking boots around the trail as it can get a little muddy in places (especially when it’s been raining!)
Aside from the lights and Christmas Village, there are usually a couple of other sweet surprises to enjoy.
Last year, there were a group of carolers outside the gift shop (which you’ll come to at the end of the trail) and there was even fake snow falling from the trees. It looked so festive!
Sadly, that couldn’t be done this year due to social distancing measures.
But be sure to have a look around the gift shop when you’re done as you’ll find all kinds of Christmas decorations, gifts and toys.
Last year, we treated ourselves to a cute snowman ornament for our Christmas tree and a festive scent bag, which still smells heavenly a year later!
We think the prices are very fair in the shop, and as it’s managed by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity, anything you buy at the gift shop goes directly back into supporting the arboretum.
So now there’s no need whatsoever to feel guilty about that Christmassy souvenir you can’t resist!
Westonbirt’s Enchanted Christmas event is always included in roundups of the best Christmas displays in England. And for good reason!
The event has been running for well over a decade (maybe even two by now!), so the team certainly know a thing or two about putting on a fun festive light display.
We appreciate 2020 will look very different from other years. But don’t let that put you off if you still want some silly festive fun to get you in the mood for Christmas.
And if 2020 was the first year you went, we really hope you’ll consider going back again in more normal times.
2019 was by far the biggest and best we’ve ever seen it, so we’re hopeful that 2021 will be right on par with that once things are better for us all.
Either way, we’re pleased this event was allowed to go ahead and we can’t wait to go back again next year!
We also have plans to visit Westonbirt Arboretum at other times of the year too – and we’re hoping 2021 will be the year we make it happen.
We reckon our dog Kai would love to come with us during spring and autumn and there are even live music events in the summer months that we have our eyes on.
Watch this space as we’ll probably come back here and tell you all about those as well!
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