Last Updated on January 1, 2023 by Suzy McCullough

We have Christmas at Blenheim Palace listed on our round-up post – Ultimate Christmas Bucket List. We were kindly invited to review the preview event and it was, for us, an ultimate family bucket list experience. It was so utterly beautiful, magical and clever. I hope my review can do it justice because honestly, it has to be seen to be believed.

This is a review previous to 2023 – some aspects may not be the same this year. Please check their website.

About Christmas at Blenheim

For this spectacular event, Blenheim Palace lights up its formal gardens and creates a festive trail full of thousands of lights. The trail is recommended to take an hour and you will see sights and sounds that will bring Christmas to life. It has been designed with all ages of visitors in mind. Blenheim Palace is in Woodstock just a few miles out of Oxford.

Our Visit to Christmas at Blenheim

We arrived mid-afternoon at our hotel for the night which was the Travelodge on the Abingdon road in Oxford. After chilling in our room for a while we donned our hats, scarf, gloves, coats and warm clothes and set off on the 20-minute drive to Blenheim Palace

Upon Arrival

Once we arrived at Blenheim we entered a courtyard with some traditional fairground rides and a few wooden huts selling food and drink. I recommend that you visit everything at the end of your trail. I will talk more about this later. There are toilets here which I recommend you get your children to use before starting on your adventure.

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In the courtyard before our adventure began

We arrived for preview drinks and mince pies in the great hall and set off at 5:30 pm on the trail. We were one of the first on the trail and it was a really lovely experience and one I’m sure we will never forget. The website states that the trail lasts an hour.

We were on it for at least 1 hour and 45 minutes and we could have spent longer on it. No one will usher you along. If you want to go slow, go slow. I know some people are concerned that it’s a lot of money just for an hour but we were at Blenheim for three hours and what we experienced is more than worth the entrance costs.

Christmas at Blenheim Palace - A Family Bucket List Experience
Arriving at the Palace for the preview
Christmas at Blenheim Palace - A Family Bucket List Experience
Warming up with a hot chocolate

 The Trail – Christmas at Blenheim Review

You start your trail at your designated time. You will be let in with a group of people with the same time slot. The first main entrance to the trail is at the big gates opposite the main door to the palace. It is not officially the start of the trail but it is a beautiful start to your adventure with giant snowflakes lighting up the ground. You will meet event staff along the way. They are there to make sure you know which way to go. They are incredibly helpful and friendly.

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Walking through giant snowflakes on the ground

You make your way down to the actual main entrance for the trail. This is where you have a toilet break opportunity in case your kids have realised that they do actually need it after all. It is now that the sights and sounds of the trail really begin.

As you make your way around the trail you will hear different Christmas songs being played. Some are in time to the lights which adds an even more magical element to the whole experience.

Jamie loved the elf workshop and was desperate to go inside. We spent some time standing here watching and listening.

Please take note of where you parked. It will be dark and it can be disori
Elf workshop – they are in there, honest

One of the trail’s highlights is the tunnel of light. The walkway is covered in hundreds of twinkling lights.

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The tunnel of light
Christmas at Blenheim Palace - A Family Bucket List Experience
In the tunnel of light – thank you to the lady who took this photo for us

Moving along the trail there is always something new and different to be seen. They have lit up just about every tree with lights of many colours. Sometimes you’d be able to see or hear something else up ahead. We were torn between enjoying where we were for a bit longer and moving on to see what else there was to see. The lights we loved the most were lights that danced in time to the music. One of the best examples of this was the hundreds of boats lit up on one of the lakes.

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Dancing boats on the lake
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Cascading lights

Often we came across lights or ornaments dangling from the trees. We especially loved these baubles and the stars previous to them.

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Halfway around the Trail

There is a really magical halfway stop on the trail. They have brought their waterfall to life with lights of many colours and a fabulous display to Christmas music. This included fire and it runs on a loop so you won’t miss it.

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The Magical waterfall
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Stop and enjoy the show

You can stop to toast a marshmallow over a fire or warm up with some soup. Here you will find the first toilets since the ones at the entrance to the trail. I paid £1.50 for a luxury giant marshmallow for us to toast.

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Warming up halfway, why not stop and toast a marshmallow?

The final half

I was left wondering if anything could really top what we’d just seen. The answer was most certainly yes. Next along the trail is a slope with thousands of lights that seem to almost wave to the music. You can watch the lights moving up and down the slope and setting off two big spires of light at the top. We found ourselves happily marching along in time to the music.

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The beautiful slope of dancing lights

Then came our absolute highlight. A walkway of dangling lights. You are allowed to spend as long as you want walking amongst the lights. If you watch my video at the bottom of the post you can hear just how much Jamie loved this. It was so much fun, what an experience.

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Walking through the magical lights
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You pass a few more beautiful displays before you come to the last few highlights of the trail.

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Jamie’s face was an absolute picture when he recognised Santa’s voice talking in the distance. Imagine his face when he actually saw Santa in front of him on stage. It was his first time seeing the main man this year and he was beside himself with happiness. He was on stage with one of his elves. We arrived near the end and although they were going to do the show again we really had to press on. We had already been on the trail for a lot longer than an hour and Jamie had been promised hot food at the end. Saying that he had wanted to stay though!

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Santa’s elf interacted with everyone stood watching

It was now nearly the end of the trail and we walked down the hill to the fountains and the finale of the trail.

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Coming to the end of the trail

The finale is a projected film onto a wall by the beautiful area pictured above. The film has been really well made and it feels life like. It runs on a loop so you will be able to watch it all before completing the trail.

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The grand finale

Final thoughts – End of our visit

Jamie did not want the trail to end. Yes, he was hungry but he could have happily done it all again. In fact, the first thing he did was ask when could we come back. I don’t blame him as it was the most magical Christmas experience that I have ever had. What we saw was well executed and thought out. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. You could not tell that it was only their second year it was all very professionally put together and run.

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Fairground rides
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Food wise you could either purchase food from Blenheim’s café or from one of their wooden huts. In the courtyard they had stew in a box, burritos, pulled pork or German sausages. For £11.50 I bought two large sausages in a bap with 2 soft drinks. You could purchase many different drinks including mulled wine and hot chocolate. All perfect for warming up after the trail.

Important Information – Christmas at Blenheim

You can book your tickets online and book an allotted time to start the trail. Entrance is not covered by a Blenheim Palace annual pass or Blenheim Palace admission. Some of the times and days are selling out fast so to make sure you get the time you want it is advised to book online in advance.

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Tips for Visiting Christmas at Blenheim

  • Make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare. The traffic in this part of the world can be very heavy at times, especially around rush hour.
  • Pre-book your tickets online in advance. Not only to save money but to ensure a time slot for the trail
  • Don’t forget to pre-book parking if you want to park at the Palace itself.
  • Wear wellies if you can. Jamie got his boots absolutely filthy. It is hard to see the ground properly in places and for kids, they have no clue what they are walking through
  • Wrap up well. You could be on the trail from anything between 1 hour to 2 hours. Although there is a fire to warm up by halfway through it won’t make any difference in the long run.
  • Plan to be there for at least 2-3 hours.
  • I was advised to bring a torch. Although I have this option on my phone it wasn’t needed.
  • Don’t forget to take extra money for drinks, food and rides.
  • Please take note of where you parked. It can get quite disorientating in the dark.
  • Toilets are in the café/shop area, at the start/end of the trail and halfway around the trail. Make sure your kids go at some point so you don’t have to rush any part of the trail to get to the toilets.

You can watch my video from our visit here –

Disclaimer: We were invited to the preview press event for the purpose of my review. All words, photos and opinions are as always entirely my own.


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