Seven must-see highlights from Helmingham Hall’s Illuminated Garden Trail 2023, near Stowmarket
Helmingham Hall’s illuminated trail is back for winter 2023 and we went to explore the historic gardens to see what this year’s visitors have in store.
The trail, at the stately home near Stowmarket, opened to guests for this year’s event on November 16 and will run each evening until December 17.
There is plenty of free parking, drinks and food halfway around, and the all important portaloos. Organisers welcome well-behaved dogs and there is an alternative route for wheelchair users.
So after wrapping up warm and putting on our most sensible footwear, a friendly lady checked our tickets and we were off on our night-time adventure.
Here are our top seven highlights from Helmingham Hall’s Illuminated Garden Trail 2023.
The enchanted entrance
Calming pastel colours greeted us as we started our walk and there was a hint of magic in the air.
My children were particularly amazed by the large wooden door, complete with mysterious smoke, which I am guessing was meant to be the official entrance to the trail. A nice touch.
Music to added to the magic
Music from Game of Thrones, Polar Express and the king of Christmas himself: Michael Bublé, could be heard along the trail as well as few more festive classics.
This added to the seasonal atmosphere and my daughter Rosie enjoyed breaking into an impromtu dance routine every now and then.
She wasn’t the only one, I saw a few adults strutting their stuff as well.
The Christmassy courtyard
My favourite stop off on the trail was the Helmingham Hall courtyard.
The classically decorated tree in the centre truly transported me back in time and I felt as though I was in an episode of Downton Abbey.
All adults are given a complimentary cup of mulled wine or hot fruit punch in the courtyard.
Sipping on my little cup of wine properly put me into the Christmas spirit and warmed me up, ready for the rest of the trek.
Deer and woodland creatures
My husband and son were both fans of all the animal inspired displays around the grounds.
It felt as though Helmingham Hall wanted to give a nod to the deer and other wildlife that live there.
We spotted lots of other families that loved the deer, with many stopping to take photos, just like we did.
Awesome projections and light shows
The thing that gave the Helmingham trail a real wow factor were the the projections and light shows.
My favourite was one close to the courtyard where trees twinkled like there was a swarm of fire flies floating above them.
The snowflake projection on to the walls of Helmingham Hall was a showstopper, the kids were really impressed how it reflected into the dark moat below.
As we came to the end of our adventure there were huge moving projections on the floor which my son really enjoyed jumping between, giving the display an interactive element.
Pictures wouldn’t do it justice.
The festive market
Rosie said one of her favourite bits of the trail was the festive market at the end which featured shops that are at the hall all year around and a few extras.
Lights were twinkling, Christmas music was playing, the wreaths were up, and it had a really cosy feel to it.
The important information
If you want to give the trail a go yourself, tickets must be booked online via the Helmingham Hall website – no tickets are available on the gate.
The first entry time is 4.30pm and sessions are every 15 minutes.
The last entry from Monday – Thursday is 7:45pm, the last entry on a Friday and Saturday is 9pm and the last entry on a Sunday is 8pm.