Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount
Car-free trips to seeChristmas Magicaround England
Brighten up the gloomy winter months with these fabulous displays of festive wonder. Flowers, animals, incandescent waterfalls... you're sure to be enchanted. If your immediate response is to say "bah humbug" then these are particularly for you. Here are five gold rings: skilfully-created extravaganzas that can convert even the most grumpy Scrooge to the magic of Christmas. Make sure you book ahead though - they are deservedly popular. If the one you've set your heart on is sold out already, make a note to get in early next year! Bring sturdy shoes and plan how you'll get away at the end (not all buses are as frequent as we'd like in the evenings).
1. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
The first of our car-free trips to see Christmas Magic starts at Blenheim. Inside the palace, the state rooms have been transformed into a sparkly maze of Alice in Wonderland themed dioramas. Every room is shimmering with detailed and intricate decorations, from the White Rabbit’s sitting room to the Mad Hatter’s tea party. And seasonal music, stirring and haunting by turns, also swirls around the spectacular mile-long trail of Christmas lights that winds through Blenheim’s gardens. There are lasers, pulsing vines, tunnels of pea lights and a rose garden full of flaming torches. There are also beautiful moments when coloured lights pick out the intricacies of a craggy oak or stately cedar or sweep across the wooded banks of the huge ornamental lakes that make Blenheim’s park so attractive at any time of year.
- How to get to Blenheim Palace: follow Good Journey’s directions. There are very regular buses from Oxford and Oxford Parkway stations to the gate of Blenheim Park in the pretty market town of Woodstock so it’s easy to visit – and make a day of it.
- When? Until January 1st 2020
- How much? See Blenheim Palace website for the range of tickets. 30% off the Palace, Park and Gardens tickets when you come by bus, train or bike! (Illuminated trail is extra).
- Last bus back? Bus 7 (Stagecoach) runs hourly back to Oxford via Oxford Parkway station until late at night so there’s no problem heading back after you’ve walked through the gardens.
2. Chester Zoo
Glowing birds and animals, a twinkling tunnel, a luminous blue frog or octopus… the after-dark Lantern adventure at Chester Zoo encounters some incredible sights. Multicoloured lamps hover over the fields and huge bright flowers float beside giant lantern creatures. Chester Zoo is always a wonderful place to get some colour therapy on a wintry day: clownfish swim through coral, huge blue morpho butterflies hover among scarlet hibiscus and candy pink flamingos balance in a grey-green lake. But this Christmas event takes it to a new level. The path winds through the zoo, crossing the bridges into nine areas, each with a different theme. It kicks off in the Moonlit Meadow, where there is a lifelike giraffe and elephant. huge model animals, lit from within…
- How to get to Chester Zoo: Follow Good Journey’s directions. There are regular buses from Chester station.
- When? Until December 23rd.
- How much? Adult ticket prices vary from £12.50 to £18, depending on the time and day.
- Last bus? Although there are regular buses until late at night, they only stop at the zoo until 5.28pm. Getting there will be easy, but you might want to book a taxi for the way back.