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Enlightened returns to Hylands with brand-new Winter Catering Village

Enlightened Moments. Photographer Aaron Crowe
The 'ocean of lights' in the Enlightened light trail at Hylands Estate. Enlightened Moments. Photographer: Aaron Crowe

The popular festive light trail, Enlightened, has returned to Hylands Estate once again to captivate audiences in its fourth consecutive year. The trail opened on Friday 24 November and is available to visit until Monday 1 January 2024. 

Enlightened’s biggest, boldest and brightest year yet 

Enlightened Moments. Photographer Aaron Crowe 1
Two young boys interact with the talking tree in the Enlightened light trail at Hylands Estate. Enlightened Moments. Photographer: Aaron Crowe

Enlightened first arrived at Hylands in 2020 and has grown year-on-year to become a much-loved annual event at the estate. 

In 2023, visitors will once again see the outstanding beauty of Hylands’ grounds in a whole new light as the estate’s majestic woodland and historic Pleasure Gardens are spectacularly lit after dark.  

The trail promises to be Enlightened’s biggest, boldest and brightest year yet, with over 100,000 LED lights and 10 miles of cabling that took a team of 20 over eight days to install!

Features for 2023 include the return of the mesmerising 50-metre tunnel, filled with thousands of lights which change colour as you venture through. There are also incredibly realistic holographic fairies and fabulous disco balls hanging from the trees, creating dazzlingly sparkly effects as you stroll through the woodland.  

Brand new displays for 2023 include the ‘ocean of light’, a digital swarm of light created through hundreds of pixel mapped bulbs. 

Visitors can also try their hand at interactive elements, such as competing in searchlight duels in the sky and adding to the ever-growing wall of Christmas wishes. 

Enlightened Moments Director, Carl Miller, says the trail has become a much-loved annual tradition: 

“We’re thrilled to be back at Hylands Estate for Enlightened’s fourth consecutive year. There’s something truly magical about the estate lit up at night, which has become a favoured annual tradition for many of our visitors.

“This year’s route has some exciting new additions and, of course, provides plenty of opportunities for that perfect family photo. So, make sure you have your camera at the ready to preserve the memories of your visit for many years to come!”

Carl Miller, Enlightened Moments Director
Enlightened Moments. Photographer Aaron Crowe 10
Enlightened Moments. Photographer: Aaron Crowe

Brand-new Winter Catering Village offering warming and delectable treats for 2023 

As in previous years, Black Bull Events will be at the trail entrance and exit with tasty, sweet Dutch pancakes and various drinks available to purchase. 

Enlightened also welcomes a brand-new addition to the route this year – a Winter Catering Village – located in The Stables Courtyard. 

Enlightened Moments. Photographer Aaron Crowe 11
Enlightened Moments. Photographer: Aaron Crowe

The catering village is operated by The Deli Hylands, who are well-known for their delicious meals at The Stables café, and now also operate the refreshment kiosk in Hylands Park.  

The Deli have put together a mouth-watering menu of warming treats to purchase along the Enlightened route. Choose from a range of A&Co woodfired pizzas – including a specially crafted Christmas pizza with pigs in blankets and sprouts! Or visit their Deli Doghouse barbeque for locally sourced sausages from Ingatestone served in brioche buns. For those needing that festive cheese fix, there’s also classic Raclette dishes and croque monsieurs from the Gondola.  

Saffron Ice Cream will be at the catering village, providing sugary treats including a hot brownie ice cream sundae to keep off the chill. There’s also plenty of refreshing drinks including wine from New Hall Wines, beer, mulled wine and mulled cider. 

Visitors can also stop off at the Artist Studios and the Artist Shop at The Stables to pick up a Christmas treat or a gift for a loved one. The artists will be opening their doors to Enlightened ticket holders on varying dates and times during the light trail.  

Further beloved winter events to return to Hylands in 2023 

Enlightened is one of several special events coming to the estate this season.  

Hylands’ annual Christmas Open Estate Day will be taking place on Sunday 17 December from 10am to 3pm. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre to search for those last-minute gifts in picturesque surroundings. Browse the market stalls filled with unique handmade gifts and locally sourced produce as you enjoy some festive refreshments. Father Christmas will also be making an appearance, plus there’ll be the usual carriage rides from Hawthorn Heavy Horses; live music; and a history exhibition in the library.   

By 26 December many of us are feeling a little festive fatigue! The Pantaloons Theatre Company have the perfect solution to this with their ‘twixmas’ show, Alice In Wonderland, coming to Hylands Estate on 27 and 28 December. This hilarious take on Lewis Carrol’s nonsensical novel features all the beloved characters, including the mirthful Mad Hatter, the perpetually late White Rabbit and the quarrelsome Queen of Hearts. The two-hour show also features live music and audience interaction. Tickets need to be booked in advance. 

Alice In Wonderland

Hylands House Manager, Lorraine Thorne, says Hylands’ high-quality festive programme welcomes back some much-loved events, while providing something new for visitors to look forward to each year:  

“With Enlightened now open and welcoming visitors, we’re in full Christmas mode at Hylands!

“The historic estate’s festive programme offers the perfect blend of tradition and modern wonder, with our familiar events offering a fresh twist each year that they return. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors over the coming weeks for the memorable experiences that they’ve come to expect.”

Lorraine Thorne, Hylands House Manager

Tickets selling quickly for Enlightened 

Enlightened runs every day except 25 and 26 December until 1 January 2024. Gates open at 4.30pm each day, with time slots every 15 minutes until the final visitors are welcomed at 9pm.  

Tickets must be booked in advance through Enlightened Moments website. Prices vary based on the chosen date and time. Infants under three receive complimentary entry. Dates are selling quickly so book soon to avoid missing out on this mood-lifting festive experience! 

Enlightened Moments. Photographer Aaron Crowe 16
Enlightened Moments. Photographer: Aaron Crowe
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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.