We were meant to be exploring the Luminate light trails twice, once at Southport in Lancashire and then again in Warrington in Cheshire. However Storm Arwen put a stop to our first visit. Then we did start to wonder if our second would be rained off too. Thankfully though, it went ahead and we were able to visit with our friends this weekend.
Luminate Cheshire Location
Luminate in Cheshire is at Walton Hall & Gardens close to Warrington and really easy to get to from the M6 and M56. We met with the friends that we made at Spike’s baby group when she was tiny. In total there were three families. The kids were aged 7 months to 6 years. As we have all moved since having our babies 6 years ago, this location was ideal for us as its a kind of easy middle spot! It was just me and Spike on this occasion, as her dad was otherwise occupied, but we made the most of it and had a great time. Spike played Animal Crossing in the car while I drove, following at first the Sat Nav, then the super easy to spot yellow Luminate Event signs.
Exploring Walton Hall & Gardens
We’d been to Walton Hall & Gardens before, back in 2018, with the same group of friends – although they were littler then and the baby of the group didnt exist! And I really enjoyed it with its wide open spaces and lovely courtyard. This was the entrance we walked through to get to the Luminate trail. It was also where you could get food and drink from at the end, or start of the trail. With a quick nip to the loos, we were on our way, stepping through a gorgeous lit arch way. Then walking through a series of stunning disco balls to welcome up to the trail.
Our Beautiful Welcome
The disco balls were magical, but they led the way to a projection which honestly looked like it was part of a tree, which welcomed us to the trail. This was one of the kids’ favourite parts and one in particular kept asking if we could return to the talking tree! Unfortunately there is no return to any part of the trail. There is a clear one way system in place and you follow the lights throughout. This made it easy to keep hold of the kids but did upset them that they couldnt return to their favourite parts! However on the whole, they forgot about going back to parts of it.
The Luminate Trail
There was a lot to see too, we stepped through flared archways, visited fairies trapped in birdcages. We watched as a fairy flew through a whirlpool on the side of the hall, watched the most mesmerising light square and played in a geo dome of light. The projections on the side of the hall were incredible. But even the littler displays offered plenty of wow moments for the kids. We loved their reactions to some of the displays, though the interactive dome was by far Spike’s favourite. We also absolutely loved the Make a Wish wall. Spike wished everyone a Very Merry Christmas!
Food and Drink at Luminate
As I said, most of the food and drink at Luminate is at the start of the trail, which we had no problem re-entering once we had finished to grab our food. This was run by the existing Cafe at the gardens’ within the stable courtyard area. It was reasonably priced – around what I’d expect to pay at the Cafe itself, however it was a shame that there werent “kids” options on the menu. Spike had a “classic hot dog” which was £6 and was meant to come complete with onions, ketchup and mustard. She wouldnt eat onions and mustard so I had to ask for it without and it was far too big for her to eat. So a child version of this would have been a lot better for her and probably priced accordingly. I had the Mexican inspired hotdog and it was amazing. I really enjoyed our tea at least!
Marshmallows and More
In addition to the Cafe, part way round there was a marshmallow and mulled wine stall. This was complete with firepits! You could buy a single, huge marshmallow for just £1.25 and toast it on the pits. We had a couple! You could also bring your own marshmallows too, which is unusual for an event like this but I really liked. One of my friends had the foresight to do this so our kids enjoyed plenty of time around the fire pits as we got warm. Finally there was a Churros van too, which sold bottled drinks.
A Winter Event with no Christmas
Luminate is a winter event with no Christmas in sight. It is not a festive event, its a really cool light trail with two fun fair rides for the kids to enjoy towards the end. With everything so focused on Santa at this time of the year I really enjoyed meeting up with Spike’s friends and my friends for something that they enjoyed. Without Spike being overwhelmed by the festivities. Spike gets a bit shy and worried about the thought of Santa so there was none of that and the fact its outside made her happy too. Luminate was cool, and artistic, and she loved sharing it with her friends. We loved every minute – even when it rained for the brief 5 minutes it did!
Info about Luminate
Luminate Cheshire runs until 24th December and tickets are available online now. There are 4 other Luminate sites, one in Southport so if you are a fellow North Westerner you may want to check that one out. The Southport event at Victoria Park runs until 23rd December. There are also events at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk running until 19th December, Coombe Abbey in Coventry until 24th December and Margam Country Park in Wales which is the longest running event; on until 2nd January. More info and tickets can be found on the Luminate website.
Disclaimer: I was sent family tickets in exchange for a blog review.