Nestled in the Cotswold Hills, in Gloucestershire, is one of England’s most beautiful Tudor castles. Sudeley Castle & Gardens provides the perfect backdrop for the ‘Spectacle of Light’ – an enchanting light and sound trail that’s open to visitors throughout December.
Seeing the historic castle and gardens illuminated under the starlit sky is an unforgettable experience for all ages and one of the best things to do near Bristol this Christmas.
(This experience was gifted as part of Visit Bristol’s #MerryBristmas campaign. All views and opinions are my own)
Planning your visit to the ‘Spectacle of Light’
The ‘Spectacle of Light’ is open until 30th December 2019 on selected evenings (1st December, 6th-8th December, 12th-23rd December, 27th-30th December).
Entry is strictly by timed slot from 4.45pm onwards and tickets sell out fast, so it’s best to pre-book online, by phone (01242 705 555), or in person at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. You’ll save more than 15% if you book in advance!
Adults (Advance £16.50 / On The Day £20)
Children – Under 3’s go free (Advance £9.90 / On The Day £12)
Family of 4 (Advance £46.20 / On The Day £56)
How to get to Sudeley Castle:
By car: Sudeley Castle is located on the outskirts of Winchcombe, just north of Cheltenham, in the Cotswolds. The easiest way to access the ‘Spectacle of Light’ during the evening is by driving and the postcode is GL54 5LP. There’s plenty of free car parking available on-site.
By train: The nearest train station is Cheltenham Spa. From here it’s a 10-mile (or 25 minute) taxi ride to Sudeley Castle, or you can book a private shuttle service with A Private Hire, while trains are still running.
By bus: Alternatively, if you’re visiting early in the evening, you can pick up either the Stagecoach ‘W’ bus service or Pulhams 606 service from Cheltenham town centre, both of which drop off in Winchcombe, but these services only run until around 6:30pm.
‘Spectacle of Light’ Highlights
I’d recommend allowing at least an hour to complete the trail and warm up with a hot chocolate from one of the food trucks along the way.
The trail follows a one-way route, so you can’t miss any of the highlights, but there are some magical moments to look out for, as you make your way around. A picture speaks a thousand words, so here’s a few of my favourites…
The Castle Ruins:
There’s something wonderfully eery and magical about seeing the mossy castle ruins lit up by lanterns, as the trees change colour in the backdrop.
Although you can’t go into the main castle itself, seeing these centuries-old buildings lit up in different colours is completely spellbinding. As you weave your way around the castle exterior, you’ll see beautiful fountains, canopies of fairy lights, and even a giant glitter ball hanging from the trees.
St Mary’s Church:
Right at the heart of the castle grounds is a beautiful 15th century chapel, which looks even more enchanting lit up in technicolour. Peek inside to see the candlelit aisle and ornate altar.
The lake is one of the most spectacular parts of the trail. The mirror effect of the trees illuminated in the water and the giant lily pads are a photographer’s dream, made all the more magical by the musical soundtrack in the background.
‘Make a wish’ for Great Ormond Street Hospital:
This year, ‘Spectacle of Light’ is themed around Peter Pan to support the vital work of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Spot Peter Pan and Wendy as they appear against the castle walls and see Tinkerbell flitting around the grounds. The kids will also love exploring Wendy’s House and meeting Captain Hook himself.
Look out for the wishing tree towards the end of the trail and make a donation to add your wish ribbon to the branches.