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Christmas at Bedgebury festive illuminated trail at Bedgebury Pinetum has opened and here's what we thought of it


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We all know someone who says "I don't do Christmas in November, it's just too early."

To be fair, even when I was pulling into the well-organised car park at Bedgebury Pinetum in Goudhurst, for the opening night of Christmas at Bedgebury, I was dubious as to how festive I was going to feel - though I didn't let on to anyone.

Christmas at Bedgebury has opened Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music
Christmas at Bedgebury has opened Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music

But it doesn't matter how unChristmassy you feel when you arrive - you won't be able to fight the feeling: you will feel festive at some point.

The one-mile illuminated trail through the beautiful forest started back in 2018 and has become something of a must-see experience.

It has a delightful mix of colourful light shows in the trees, over water, and on grass throughout the trail, all teamed with festive music - we even heard Bing Crosby at one point - with several stop-off points for selfies or snacks.

Some lights you can't help but stop and enjoy them; just soak up the experience and revel in being able to openly enjoy music that you might in any other situation not choose to listen to at all.

It's very family-friendly, and is obviously a mesmerising experience for little ones from beginning to end. But you don't need to have tiny people with you to enjoy it - all ages can get in on the joy.

Christmas at Bedgebury has opened Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music
Christmas at Bedgebury has opened Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music
Christmas at Bedgebury is family-friendly Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music
Christmas at Bedgebury is family-friendly Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music
Angela Cole with her family at Christmas at Bedgebury Picture: Angela Cole/KMG
Angela Cole with her family at Christmas at Bedgebury Picture: Angela Cole/KMG

This year’s must-see sights include the Lantern Trees, Giant Lilies on Marshall’s Lake and, of course, the Insta-friendly Tunnel of Light with its 100,000 pea lights shimmering in the darkness.

It wasn't busy, but it was at times tricky not getting in other people's pictures - or for them not to get into ours.

There definitely felt like there was a greater variety of light displays - each one has a board next to it with a QR code which shows you which company was responsible for the display.

In past years, seeing Santa as you went past was a very brief experience. I think one year he just waved, but this year Santa (looking remarkably like the Ghost of Christmas Present from Muppet Christmas Carol) was very visible and busy chatting and interacting with visitors who stopped to see him outside his cabin in the woods.

You can toast marshmallows, or buy hot chocolates and mulled wine on the way round, and we did stop off at one of the cabins, though do be prepared for the prices for a captive market. For instance, I think my small hot chocolate was £5.

There are many different light shows as part of the trail Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music
There are many different light shows as part of the trail Picture: Paul Sanders, copyright Sony Music
Christmas at Bedgebury has numerous light displays
Christmas at Bedgebury has numerous light displays

One element from a past year which I particularly enjoyed, an illuminated, colour-changing bridge deep in the woods, was missing, which was a shame, but there were many sights to see along the way.

But the trail is definitely worth seeing and will be a Christmas highlight for many from all across Kent this year. You can skip along at a steady pace and be round within an hour or so, or you can take a very leisurely stroll - especially if you have small children with you - and spend considerably longer. No-one will rush you, and fellow visitors were very respectful of eachother, I felt.

Staff along the route were also friendly and helpful.

For all those Christmas doubters I say, don't fight the feeling - let Christmas at Bedgebury convert you.

You can walk as slowly as you like around Christmas at Bedgebury Picture: Angela Cole/KMG
You can walk as slowly as you like around Christmas at Bedgebury Picture: Angela Cole/KMG

* The outdoor event runs on selected dates through to Monday, January 3, but there are only a few tickets left for the later dates now.

Tickets cost from £20 for adults and £13.50 for children, with a family ticket for two adults and two children costing £64. There is free entry for carers and children aged two and under. To book the last few tickets click here.

Christmas lights switch-ons across Kent

For more Days Out ideas across Kent click here

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