On Thursday evening we were invited to the press night of Christmas at Dunham Massey. This was our third year attending and it just gets bigger and better every year. We love this event so much, that it has very quickly become a highlight for the whole family on our festive calendar and never fails to get us into the Christmas spirit.
The magical after-dark illuminated trail is truly spectacular and features the popular favourites that returning guests have come to know and love, such as the Giant Glittering Deer and the Cathedral of Light, in addition to some brand new installations that definitely have that added wow factor.
Our evening began with a welcome reception where we enjoyed some sweet treats and hot beverages in the cafe, before listening to a short welcoming speech about the trail and the huge amount of work involved, which takes place throughout the year. We could hear the Christmas music begin outside and my children couldn't wait to get to the trail and experience Christmas at Dunham Massey 2019.
We made our way to the courtyard and found that there was a new layout to previous years. As you enter through the archway there is a lovely selection of traditional fairground rides, which include a Helter Skelter, Boat Swings, a Carousel and a Merry Go Round. It costs £2.50 per ride if paying on the night, however when you book your tickets online, there is the option to add five rides for a discounted price of £10 when paying in advance.
The food stalls are now located to the right hand side of the courtyard and are placed either side of the walkway. There is a great selection of food and drinks available to buy from the various vendors, which included dirty fries and hot dogs from Diamond Dogs, cypriot cuisine from Cyprus Kouzina, mulled wine and luxury hot chocolate from the Winter Wunderbar and delicious smelling burgers from the Little Heath Farm Shop to name just a few. We also noticed that The Stables restaurant was open selling hot soup and scones, so there is definitely something to suit all tastes and ensure that no one goes home hungry. Prices vary per stall, but the costs seemed reasonable and the food smelt fantastic.
Once you have walked past the food stalls, this then leads the way to the brand new entrance to the start of the trail. This new walkway brings you in facing the magnificent house which is decorated with a festive projection display. I had read in the preview about this and was expecting a few lights going across the front of the building, however I was completely blown away by the highly entertaining display which was absolutely incredible. The quality was amazing and you could see everything really clearly and this immediately created a buzz of excitement amongst the guests.
At the start of the trail there are two giant sized glittering reindeer, along with some large picture frames to help you create the perfect family photo. The reindeer are stunning and have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. They glisten and twinkle beautifully, whilst standing bright and tall and they are the perfect welcome to the one mile long magical walk.
The Heart Walk installation also grabbed our attention as we strolled past a collection of large floating hearts that created all kinds of colours to admire. The cleverly designed artistic hearts, helped us to think about the love that surrounds Christmas and we thought that they were a great addition to the trail.
My son Ben really enjoyed the Firework Trees, which created a beautiful multi-sensory display. The lights would raise up and down whilst sounds would crackle and zoom as they mimicked a firework effect. My children questioned just how long it would have taken to have decorated the trees with so many bulbs and it made us realise how much hard work goes in to creating this mesmerising christmas trail.
The Sea of Light created a breathtaking moment and uses the combination of sound and light to create the most delightful scene. It was so calming and enjoyable just watching the lights flow in waves of colour, that we all found incredible. This feature could be enjoyed from the walkway, or you could take in the full effect by sitting on one of the bright blue benches and enjoy the immersive experience of the Sea of Light travelling towards you.
In addition to the various installations, we loved how trees would just be simply lit with an attractive glow along the way, creating a warm and inviting environment to be in.
As you make your way around the trail, there is also the option to toast some marshmallows on the fire pits. My children absolutely love doing this each year and there are always a great range of flavours to choose from. We chose Vanilla, Chocolate Orange and Candy Floss which were all delicious and cost £1.50 each. There was a lovely red glowing trail around the fire pits and Riley and I took a walk around these and through the tunnels, whilst everyone else finished eating their sweet treats.
Of course no Christmas Trail would be complete without an appearance from Santa himself. This isn't a grotto opportunity, but more a brief show that entertains children (and adults), so there is no meet and greet. Personally I prefer this as it means no queues and instead everyone can enjoy the experience. Santa had guests doing a fun warm up, whilst the rabbit told a little tale which everyone seemed to enjoy.
As we continued on our walk we came to the Light Cathedral. This has been one of the stand-out features of previous years and so I was really pleased that it had made a very welcome return. It really looks fantastic in person and my photos don't really do it justice, but there are quite literally thousands of small lights which create a fabulous effect as well as a stunning feature to walk through.
We all absolutely loved the Rings of Fire, which were located in the lake. Light beams filled the air, accompanied by a great selection of music, which was really stunning to watch. I really could have stood there for several hours just watching the spinning snowflakes and fire glow. My youngest son Riley thought that this was amazing and I would absolutely agree.
Overall we had a wonderful time and would absolutely recommend this event to all. The style and creativeness of this magical Christmas trail, really makes it suitable for visitors of all ages. Whilst it is great for families, it is also equally as good for couples, groups of friends or even solo visitors due to its lovely festive atmosphere. The new installations were superb and we particularly enjoyed the projection show on the front of the main house. Christmas at Dunham Massey is a wonderful experience from start to finish and we will definitely be returning again in the future.
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
Attraction - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical, after-dark, illuminated trail.
Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Dates - Selected dates from 22nd November to 30th December 2019.
Admission - From: Adult £17.50, Child (3-16) £11.00, Family £54.00
Website - For full details and pricing, please visit the Dunham Massey website Christmas at Dunham Massey
*Additional charges apply for vintage rides, food and drink.
*Disclaimer - We were given press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the event. All opinions and photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the events own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.