Wiltshire’s own winter wonderland has officially opened for 2023, and I went to find out what all the fuss was about.

Christmas at Stourhead is set in the National Trust’s Palladian house and world-famous landscape garden just outside Warminster, and opened for the first time on Friday, December 1, 2023.

If you haven’t seen the huge posters at almost every train station in Wiltshire – where have you been?

Similar to Oxfordshire’s ‘Christmas at Blenheim’, the Wiltshire light trail features immersive illuminations around an accessible trail with music, food and drink, all set in a stunning historic backdrop.

The event is certainly rising in popularity, as Stourhead National Trust announced in November that they were adding new dates with extra tickets to accommodate the huge demand.

Armed with a camera and a warm winter coat, I was excited to go and experience a truly Wiltshire Christmas.

Before even reaching the lights trail, visitors are eased into the festivities with multiple food stalls, craft markets, a second-hand book shop and even a pub!

Set in a historic courtyard, even the food and drink feel somewhat magical, although the steep prices that you would expect at an event like this are somewhat less magical.

You’ll find it very difficult to walk through and not be persuaded to indulge in at least one hot chocolate brimming with marshmallows, which is exactly what I did.

Wiltshire Times: Stourhead's liquid lake and meadow of light set the tone of the stunning trail.Stourhead's liquid lake and meadow of light set the tone of the stunning trail. (Image: Oliver Welch)

The ‘liquid lake’ at the beginning of the trail certainly sets the standard high, with huge beams of light stretching out over Stourhead’s stunning lake and dancing to a soundtrack of seasonal music.

The illuminations are genuinely jaw-dropping, and the National Trust uses the historic setting to its advantage to create a grand and natural feel to a modern light trail.

This is something that is continued throughout the trail, as the ‘tree halos’ take nature's beauty and add a modern twist so that I felt like I was walking through a nighttime set of Avatar.

Wiltshire Times: The 'tree halos' turn natural beauty into a futuristic movie set. The 'tree halos' turn natural beauty into a futuristic movie set. (Image: Oliver Welch)

Along the way were pit stops for visitors to stop and enjoy, including a fire pit to toast marshmallows over, a champagne and drinks bar, and Santa waiting to greet children in his grotto.

These stops break up the trail perfectly and provide a great place for the oldies and younger children to rest their legs.

But at an extortionate £2 a marshmallow, I think many people like myself would choose to just use the fire pit to warm their hands and then move on.

Wiltshire Times: The trail is full of pitstops along the way.The trail is full of pitstops along the way. (Image: Oliver Welch)

The trail was busy but constantly moving, and quiet enough to be able to stop and enjoy the illuminations without the ‘winter wonderland’ feeling of being constantly pushed along in the crowds.

My personal highlight has to be the light show put on by the photogenic ‘Stourhead’ sign itself which, without giving too much away, can only be described as ‘Disneyland magic’.

I was so drawn into the Disneyland atmosphere that I was genuinely surprised there weren’t fireworks at the end of it all.

All in all, the light trail was an absolute delight that I would highly recommend.

Wiltshire Times: The Stourhead illuminations brought Disney magic to Christmas.The Stourhead illuminations brought Disney magic to Christmas. (Image: Oliver Welch)

The experience is priced at £21.50 for an adult, £15 for a child (aged 3-16) or £70 for a family of four, which does makes it slightly more expensive than London's Winter Wonderland experience.

However, my partner who was dubious of the prices at first, said he would "absolutely pay that to go again next year" by the end.

While it may not have the rides or ice skating that Winter Wonderland offers, Christmas at Stourhead is the perfect way to enjoy the magic of Christmas with the whole family in Wiltshire's natural beauty hotspot.