Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is quite rightly a popular destination for garden and history lovers alike. The title of Palace is a worthy one given its splendour and pomp. The Palace, built between 1705 and 1722 is complimented by formal gardens designed by Henry Wise and a water parterre designed by Achille Duchêne. With landscaped grounds re-designed by Capability Brown, there is much to see and this winter, the spectacle of Christmas illuminations was not to be missed.
Best viewed at dusk for obvious reasons, the gardens and grounds took on a mysterious quality whereby visitors were encouraged to follow a path of light leading though the formal gardens towards the landscaped grounds beyond.
The trail began in the formal gardens with lighting setting the scene for the evening ahead. Through the paths around the water parterre beside the Palace and up a sloping path where trees were lit from beneath with iridescent green. Onwards, past the festively decorated Temple of Diana and Churchill memorial garden towards the rose garden where the most breathtaking display of hundreds of flaming torches awaited. Presiding over the torches was a magical and delicate phoenix, perched up high and turning gently according to the direction of the breeze. Pure theatre.
Onwards again, with giant neon flowers lighting the way towards music and two towering Christmas trees, each lit with hundreds of tiny fairy lights and away to the right, a sloping meadow of magical LED flowers leading down to the water cascades, theatrically dressed for the occasion with changing colour.
On the path beside the lake leading back towards the Palace, little boats stacked with presents and glowing balls of light lent a mysterious quality to the dark water with the arched bridge behind lit with festive lights. The lake path towards the boat house was decorated with artfully lit trees, twinkling lanterns and an enticing fairy-lit walkway.
The boat house played host to some very special guests – Father Christmas and a band of merry helpers, all suitably dressed in festive costume.
With kiosks lining the route offering festive refreshments, the tempting gift shop and traditional carousel in the courtyard, Blenheim at Christmas was a seasonal treat and a definite date for the diary next year too.