Connaught@Christmas illuminated gardens in Sidmouth

Build underway to light up Connaught Gardens for Connaught@Christmas

Sue Cade
Authored by Sue Cade
Posted Monday, November 29, 2021 - 10:26am

With just days to go before opening night the Connaught@Christmas team has started getting everything ready for this magical illuminated experience in Connaught Gardens, Sidmouth.

There’s masses to do to make sure this sparkling new event gives visitors the perfect start to the festive season this year.

In Manor Road car park, the 800 sqm marquee is being erected. This will provide cover for visitors while they browse the 30+ food and craft stalls manned by traders from Sidmouth and Devon. The team are busy decorating the marquee with glittering Christmas decorations, as well as lining up the 50 ten foot tall Christmas trees – all from Cotley Farm in Whimple – to create a stunning entrance to the event.

Across in Connaught Gardens the lighting designers have begun dressing the trees, shrubs, flower beds, walls and pillars with spotlights, light curtains, uplighters and tree lighting, using 550 lighting units, 7km of cable, over 860 metres of fairy light strings and thousands of LED lamps to create a magnificent spectacle. They are also testing out the finale piece, a lighting projection adding colour and texture on to the cliffs above Jacob’s Ladder beach.

Heading up the organisation of Connaught@Christmas is John Radford. He said: “This is a more intimate experience than some illuminated events as we don’t have towering trees and ornamental lakes - but wow, what a location! On the clifftop overlooking Lyme Bay, with the sea air and the seagulls overhead. Everyone is feeling extremely excited about it.”

With the event team all based in Devon, Connaught@Christmas has been focused from the start on supporting local, from the traders and food vendors to the Christmas trees, and the musicians and choirs which include the town band and a group from Sidmouth schools. In the spirit of bringing on the next generation, one student is working with the event team to learn how to manage a professional PA system.

To keep visitors safe, the marquee will be well ventilated and picnic tables in the outdoor food court area are available for anyone preferring to eat outdoors. Using timed slots for visits means that the gardens won’t be overcrowded, and the later 8.30pm slot will be sold at half capacity ensuring even more space.

Connaught@Christmas runs from December 7 to 12 from 4.30 to 9.30pm, while the free-to-enter Christmas Craft & Food Village opens at 1pm each day. For more information visit

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