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Get festive at Hylands this winter

Photo Credit Aaron Crowe. Enlightened 2022 (1)
Photo credit: Aaron Crowe.

Bring on those festive feelings at Hylands Estate this winter! From a Christmas Market to decoration workshops and a family-favourite pantomime, the wide range of Christmas events and activities on offer are bound to get you in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year!

Lorraine Thorne, House Manager at Hylands Estate, says Hylands is the perfect place to celebrate the upcoming holidays.

"We’re so excited to see the return of our Christmas events programme that visitors loved last year. The festive season is a real highlight of the year at Hylands Estate. There’s something for everyone to get involved with, no matter how they celebrate the winter months, and we can’t wait to see everyone there."

Lorraine Thorne, Hylands House Manager


Following the success of last winter, Enlightened returns to Hylands Estate later this month with a whole new route to explore. Once again, the grounds will be transformed into a magical illuminated trail for visitors to enjoy with all the family.

This year’s event sees the return of some fairy-themed favourites from last year, as well as some exciting new elements, such as a dazzling UV maze! With new interactive installations also available to enjoy, visitors will be able to create their own light patterns in the sky or perform epic search light duels!

Delicious refreshments will also be available to savour, including sweet Dutch pancakes, German sausages, festive wraps, and a range of warm and spiced drinks.

Enlightened runs from 24 November 2022 – 1 January 2023, with first entry at 4.30pm and last entry at 9pm. Tickets must be booked in advance through Enlightened Moments. The trail will begin from the Writtle entrance to the Park (Greenbury Way, CM2 8FS), with free car parking available for ticket holders. Please note there will be no event access from the House entrance (London Rd).

Carl Miller, Director at Enlightened Moments, says this year’s light trail offers more for families than ever before.

"Enlightened is the perfect solution to those dark winter days. This year’s enchanted trail at Hylands offers a whole new route to explore, providing a little magic for everyone – young or old – to enjoy."

Carl Miller, Enlightened Moments Director

Christmas at the Stables

Make The Stables at Hylands Estate your one-stop-shop for Christmas this year! This event will have everything you need to make your festive season extra special. Exciting goodies from small traders and homegrown businesses will include hampers of award-winning pickles, chutneys and sauces; locally produced spirits; handmade vegan candles; and an alpaca shop with socks, scarves, jumpers and ponchos. HotBox Live will also be providing live music with jazz and acoustic sets.

Feeling inspired for more? Our community of artists will be opening the doors to their studios on the ground and first floor of The Stables, as well as the dedicated artists’ shop selling all things #MadeAtHylands. You’ll find 3D-printed Christmas decorations, personalised wood engraved gifts and bespoke silver jewellery.

Christmas at the Stables takes place on 30 November from 6pm–10pm. Parking is free from 6pm, and all stallholders will be accepting contactless payment as well as cash. Toilets are available on site, as well as places to sit for a rest between shopping sprees. Wrapping up warm is advised as most of the Christmas Market will take place outside. If you are attending Enlightened on the same night, Hylands’ friendly staff will guide you to The Stables should you wish to take a detour part way through.

Christmas Open Day and Farmers’ & Craft Market

Hylands House opens its doors for free once again on 18 December from 10am–4pm. Explore the elegant House and its meticulously restored rooms at your own leisure and enjoy the special exhibition in the library, ‘The Gooch family at Hylands’.

Outside the front of the House and inside the Grand Pavilion, you can enjoy a festive Farmers’ & Craft Market. The market is a treasure trove of fresh and local food, drink, and crafts direct from the producers and makers. Jewellery, soaps, ceramics, macramé, mulled wine and sweet treats are just some of the delights you’ll find.

Our resident artists at the stables will be opening their studios and the Stables Café will offer tasty festive delights, from hot food and sweet treats to spiced winter warmers and hot chocolate.

Hawthorn Heavy Horses will also be providing carriage rides around the Estate throughout the day. You can book your carriage place on the day of the event.

To top it all off, Santa will be popping by to say ‘hello!’ and maybe you’ll even see some snow!

Decoration workshops

If you like to get creative and you’re still wondering what to gift to your loved ones this Christmas, Hylands artist Mona Marnell’s glass-making workshops could be perfect for you. Limited spaces are available for sessions in November and December from 10am–4pm. Mona will teach you how to cut, grind and colour glass, as well as how to apply decorative features to personalise your beautiful glass decorations. And, by the end of the course, you’ll have some stunning pieces to gift to family or friends, or to adorn your own home with.

Light refreshments will be available throughout the day and The Stables Café will be open for bigger bites to eat. Parking is free for attendees. See Mona’s website for further information and to book tickets.

Many of the resident artists at Hylands Estate are also offering Christmas gift vouchers for those tricky gift recipients. Find out more on the Hylands Estate website.

Christmas Soirée

The ever-popular Cameo Players will return to Hylands between 5 and 7 December with another of their much-loved Christmas Soirées.

This year the eagerly anticipated theme is… P.G Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster in ‘It’s Christmas – By, Jeeves!’. Join Bertie Wooster, his trusty Valet, Jeeves and their eccentric friends and family as they celebrate the festive season in the glorious surroundings of Hylands House. Start your Christmas celebrations with a bang and enjoy all the usual features of a Cameo Players Christmas with music, drama, crackers and a good deal of fun!

The show runs for approximately 2 hours 15 minutes, including an interval. Mulled wine and light refreshments will be available to purchase during the event.

Traditional pantomime

After the success of Cinderella in 2021, The Pantaloons Theatre Company returns on 28 and 29 December this year with another panto classic: ‘Dick Whittington and his Cat’.

Adventure awaits brave Dick Whittington in the big city – and beyond – where he’ll need all the help he can get from his furry friend… and from you, of course! Expect musical mayhem, rampaging rats, silly sailors and a cat who’s convinced the story is actually ‘Puss in Boots’.

Four performances are available to book, with tickets starting at £8. Infants under two years on laps are free to attend. Book soon to avoid disappointment!

Dick Whittington 2022 Hylands
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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.