Sunday, 2 December 2018

Christmas at Dunham Massey 2018 - A Review

One of our most popular festive reviews last year, was of the spectacular Christmas at Dunham Massey event, that featured the most wonderful and magical illuminated light trail. We were therefore extremely excited to be invited to the preview of this years event, which we attended as a family on Thursday evening.

Christmas at Dunham Massey has been made possible by a joint collaboration of the National Trust and leading events producers Raymond Gubbay Ltd, who have both worked together to transform the grounds and gardens into an incredible winter wonderland offering lights, music and plenty of festive fun.


On arrival we made our way to the restaurant where we were provided with some tea, coffee, mince pies and biscuits, whilst we listened to a short introduction to the event by one of the creators. After this brief talk we were invited to make our way to the courtyard and then onwards to experience the lights.

As we entered the courtyard we found that it varied slightly to the last year as there were more traditional rides for children which included a carousel, swings and a beautiful helter skelter, along with more food vendors to choose from. There were plenty of dining options available ranging from wood fired pizzas to pancake stacks & waffles. I also felt that the prices were very reasonable as well, with a lot more choice.

It was slightly too early for us to eat as none of the children were hungry just yet, so we made our way straight to the Christmas Light Trail. We had expected it to be very similar to our previous visit, but we were in for a huge surprise as this years event is even bigger and better than before!

As we made our way past the main property towards the trail, there was a mini-show featuring Mr & Mrs Claus, welcoming everyone to the event. The mansion was covered in a projection of snowflakes as Santa Claus asked for help to find his reindeer and for guests to look out for them around the trail. A short story was told in rhyme and the children were told to collect a wooden stick bearing a reindeer's name. They were then told to look for the reindeer on their stick and to tell a member of staff at the end of the trail where they had found it, in order to receive a large sticker. My children had Donner, Blitzen and Prancer and they loved trying to find the reindeer whilst walking around.


We were immediately blown away right from the very beginning, as we entered the trail through an incredible tunnel adorned with thousands of pea-lights. This certainly set the scene for the remainder of the trail as we were greeted with stunning displays at every turn. Each display was accompanied by well known festive tunes, apart from one area that featured the Harry Potter theme music instead, much to my children's delight.

Due to the poor weather, we had anticipated the path to be muddy and therefore came prepared with wellies, but it certainly wasn't as bad as we expected. Whilst a few small areas were a little squishy under our feet, the majority was absolutely fine, with some parts covered in rubber matting which showed that they were well prepared for any rain.


The singing trees were superb with lights wrapped around the trunks that moved in time to the music and we continued past coloured spheres that were scattered amongst the woodland. Riley was the first person in our family to find his named reindeer of Donner and he was absolutely delighted to have discovered it before his siblings. My daughter's favourite part of the trail came soon after as we walked through twinkling green lights accompanied by the theme music to Harry Potter. This led to her dancing through the trail, pretending to wave a wand around whilst singing along and I must admit that I did join in with this too!

We walked past a large tree with lights that replicated coloured raindrops falling from the branches, which was really beautiful to watch and quite mesmerising too. We also came across some giant sparkling reindeers that glistened against the night sky. You could also walk directly under one of them which Riley found fascinating. Another highlight for the children soon followed as we walked through another tunnel of lights, only this time they filled the entire walkway, so you needed to move the lights around you to make your way through.


My personal favourite of the entire trail was the huge grass area that had been filled with hundreds of football sized coloured balls. These lights shone brightly as they were perfectly choreographed to the relaxing music. It really was an incredible sight and something that must have taken a lot of planning to put together.

Photo Credit: This image was taken by a friend L.G (image not to be used elsewhere without permission from owner)

About three quarters of the way round, we arrived at the fire pits where you could purchase gourmet marshmallows for £1.50 each. Both Emma and Ben chose vanilla flavours, whilst Riley opted for a hot chocolate flavoured one. The marshmallows were mounted on sticks and we were directed to the fire pits where my children enjoyed toasting (and eating) them. There was a great range of different flavours to choose from including some extravagant choices such as blueberry & sipsmith gin, along with popcorn & cranberry.


As we made our way towards the end of the trail, we walked past a huge fire display that had a large quantity of stands that featured flickering flames. My youngest son thought that this was really interesting and it stood out as being something a little different to all of the other lights we had observed so far. We could also spot the fountain finale from across the water and Ben correctly guessed that he could hear the music from one of his favourite films 'Home Alone' in the distance.


Nearing the end of the trail, we found Ben's named reindeer which made him very happy as he had become slightly concerned that we might have missed it, but it was simply the last reindeer of the walk. There was a member of staff located shortly afterwards, who rewarded each of my children with a sticker.

It had been my intention to purchase some food to eat once we arrived back in the courtyard, but my children still weren't feeling hungry, so we headed straight towards the fountain finale. As you make your way there through the white exit gate, you finally spot the most famous reindeer of all, before following the path along the lakeside.

The finale at the end was superb and we sat on the conveniently placed benches as we watched the water fountains light up in time to the music. This was absolutely amazing and watching the lights against the watery backdrop to the soundtrack of "Somewhere in my Memory" by John Williams, was the most perfect way to end our evening.

Overall we absolutely loved the Christmas at Dunham Massey event. The effort that has clearly been put into this is tremendous and we didn't want the evening to end. My children grew increasingly excited to see what was coming next and around every corner there was something new to entertain us. In addition to the lights, we found the fire display and fountain finale to be spectacular and the festive courtyard added to the evening and made it a lovely place to relax both before and after we had entered the trail. The whole experience was wonderful from start to finish and I wouldn't hesitate to return in the future. I would definitely recommend this event to all and for me this was the perfect event to get us well and truly into the Christmas spirit!

For further information on Christmas at Dunham Massey, please visit their website or social media channels which can be found here:

Website - National Trust - Dunham Massey
Facebook - DunhamMasseyNT - Facebook
Twitter - @DunhamMasseyNT

Event Listing

Attraction - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical after-dark illuminated trail.
Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Dates - Selected dates from 30th November to 30th December 2018.

Admission

Advance - Adult £16.50, Child (5-16) £10.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £50.00
On the day - Adult £18.50, Child (5-16) £12.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £58.00

Tickets can be purchased from the See Tickets Website here: See Tickets - Christmas at Dunham Massey (affiliate link)

*Transaction charges/print at home charges/postal charges/agent charges may also apply.

Please note that advanced booking is recommended, as some dates are already sold out.

*Disclaimer: We were invited to this event as guests of Dunham Massey for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Thoughts and opinions are my own. Any event details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attraction's own website in order to obtain the most up to date details. This post contains an affiliate link, which means that I may receive a small commission should you choose to purchase tickets.

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