A year in the planning, the Connaught@Christmas illuminated trail is finally ablaze with a delightful atmosphere created by thousands of colourful LED lights.
Although the first night was cancelled due to extreme high winds from Storm Barra, the lighting, structures and marquee escaped the ravages of the storm, allowing the event to go ahead on the second night. Ticket holders were refunded and most immediately rebooked for another day.
Nine creatively lit zones in the gardens have been designed to be enjoyed at a relaxed pace, with seating available for those who would like to take their time. From trees, shrubs and flower beds to walls, pillars and the bandstand, everything is festooned with delightful lights. Even the cactus greenhouse has had a makeover with multi-coloured lights. From a viewpoint near the Clocktower Café, which is open for hot drinks and snacks, visitors can see the light projection over Jacobs Ladder beach and cliffs.
An array of locally grown Christmas trees add a festive element, and younger visitors may spot Santa himself taking a turn around the gardens, happy to chat with them to find out if they’ve been good!
Over in Manor Road car park, the covered Food & Craft Village is brimming with local traders, with street food vendors selling burgers, spicy dumplings, tempting vegan dishes, churros, and, of course, warming mulled wine. Meanwhile the craft stalls are stuffed full of unusual and unique gifts for Christmas from handmade candles and beautiful jewellery to the softest sheepskin cushions and perfect pressies for pets.
Despite the challenges of Storm Barra, the weather looks reasonable for the remaining days, with visitors advised to check the forecast ahead of their visit and wear appropriate outerwear.
Connaught@Christmas runs until Sunday December 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 connaught-at-christmas.co.uk
Photos by Kyle Baker Photography