On the edge of the National Forest in Staffordshire, you’ll find The National Memorial Arboretum. Only half an hour from Birmingham, it’s an emotional day trip any time of year. Not only to remember those who have served and sacrificed – with over 400 memorials over 150 acres of woodland – but to also experience breathtaking riverside walks and an overwhelming 25,000 trees.
For the festive period, however, the area becomes extra special. Throughout Christmas, Illuminated Arboretum sees the trees light up after hours with kaleidoscopic colour. Until December 23, this new mile-long trail uses mesmerising light, colour and sound to bring the fascinating stories of the Arboretum to life in an entirely new way.
From fun hands-on and immersive spaces to quieter areas for personal reflection, it’s a journey that all ages can enjoy. Just some of the highlights of this Christmas light trail include the Beacons of Light that reach high into the night sky at the Armed Forces Memorial; Flowers of Remembrance, a beautiful indoor garden featuring hundreds of flowers; and Archway of Hope, a piece created by social collectives and willow artist Nita Rao.
As you head around, you’ll also pass through the Windrush Path of Illumination. This 75th-anniversary tribute to the Windrush generation features projections created by those with lived experience of journeying to Britain in 1948. Newly composed songs by Ken Burton, sung by associate artists Black Voices and local choirs, will soundtrack the illumination in the arboretum.
But you’ll find mesmerising displays behind every corner between 4.30pm and 7.30pm. In fact so dazzling are the lights, you’ll be able to spot them lighting up the skies as you approach! Not only that, but you can warm up on a whole selection of festive foods as you wander around. Tuck into everything from German-style sausages to waffles, hot chocolate and mulled wine. Or pop into the restaurant after for pizzas, fries, soups, churros, sandwiches, cakes and more.
Tickets for Illuminated Arboretum are £24 for an adult, and £14 for a child, while under-5s go free. If you want to learn more about the Christmas light trail and to purchase tickets head here.