Anglesey Abbey winter lights at Lode, near Newmarket, are the perfect lead-in to the festive season for families
What makes Christmas special for you? Food, presents, family – or TV specials?
Lights always do it for me. The more twinkly the better. They festoon my kitchen, my garage and even my computer at this time of year
But I have to admit defeat on my garden *display*. A couple of solar strings around two bushes looked nice – until I saw what can be achieved with inspiration, creativity and an electricity bill which might make my eyes water. So Anglesey Abbey, take a bow.
I was lucky enough to get along to one of the first Winter Lights nights – one of the National Trust venue’s largest fund-raisers. Nature by Night, Nature by Light is a gorgeous, sensory after-dark journey that brings the gardens of Anglesey to life.
I’m no newcomer to Anglesey, which sits just over the Suffolk border in the pretty village of Lode, close to Newmarket and Bottisham. It’s a 20-minute drive from Bury St Edmunds and well worth a visit at any time of year – and snowdrop time has always been a firm favourite.
I may just have to re-assess that. The first thing which grabbed me were the metalwork sculptures created by artist Jeni Cairns. These exquisite creations, featuring an owl, fox and deer, appear throughout the gardens and are brought to life with glimpses of light.
Anglesey has a lovely 18th century working watermill. And for 2023, it is used to feature a ‘Field to Flour’ story, a short film projected onto the mill. I’m certain this will live on in the memory as a firm favourite for many visitors this winter. And once, just once, my cringeworthy joke about the river leading up to the mill looking like a millstream, was actually spot on. Comedy gold.
Halfway along the walking route, we came across some foodie trucks, which proved a popular distraction. Alongside them was Cambridge Folk Festival live music, which was a perfect accompaniment to the evening’s walk.
Anglesey Abbey itself is a Jacobean-style house with expansive gardens and that working watermill. In all, visitors will find 114 acres. I’ve never gone the same way twice, always found something new to marvel at and the different seasons at Anglesey always off something unique – whether that’s winter and the lights, spring and snowdrops, summer and the beautiful trees and parkland or the millstream at any time of year.
Winter Lights at Anglesey Abbey runs on weekends to December 10. Tickets are allocated by staggered trail start times.
The trail is approximately one and a half miles long and took us about 60 minutes.
Car parking is available on site and is included in the ticket price.
Tickets for 2023 are available from the Anglesey website and cost £20 for adults, £15.50 for children (5-17 years), £47 for a family (1 adult, 2 children) and £66 for a larger family (2 adults, 2 children). It’s free for under 5s and carers.