Sandringham is known as the place that Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family spend Christmas. In 2020 things were a bit different. The Queen stayed at Windsor Castle and the public could visit Luminate, a Christmas light trail at Sandringham.
Note: We were lucky to visit Luminate Sandringham before it had to close early as a precaution with coronavirus cases rising. Everyone that had purchased tickets for dates that were cancelled could choose from getting a refund or tickets for 2021. If you are interested in going to the 2021 trail, early bird tickets are available now!
Note: Photos coming soon!
What is Luminate Sandringham?
Luminate is a 1-mile long winter light trail through the Country Park at Sandringham Estate. In addition to the lights, there are special effects, music, and interactive installations. It’s more of an enchanted experience as the decorations don’t have a traditional Christmas theme.
Visiting Sandringham Luminate
We booked our time-entry tickets to Luminate over a month in advance as I knew it would be a popular event. I hoped the weather would cooperate. When the day finally came it was chilly, but no rain forecasted. If we bundled up, it should be fine.
When we arrived at Sandringham we were directed to park and then made the short walk to the entrance. Since we had a few minutes before our time window, we went to the courtyard to use the bathrooms and grab some hot drinks. I was impressed that there were a few food trucks and the café and gift shop were open as well.
With our hot drinks in hand, we headed to the start of the trail to check in. I showed my order number on my phone and they gave us tags and pencils for the wishing tree. We put them in our pockets and moved on.
The trail started with giant lit up letters spelling out Luminate so we knew we were in the right place. Then the bear sculpture (here all year) came to life to welcome us.
We continued further into the woods and there were more light displays and even a spot to take a selfie. There was a short wait for us to go inside the colorful igloo, but it was worth it. The kids loved stepping on the circles and seeing them light up.
When we turned the corner, the displays got more impressive. First, a field of lights, then a section with a disco ball that was absolutely magical. It’s hard for pictures to do it justice.
Up next it was time to roast marshmallows. These weren’t just any marshmallows but the largest I think I have ever come across. They were very tasty too. It was fun to roast them over the fire pits that were set up. At this pit stop, you could also get mulled wine or other warm beverages.
Tip: Mulled wine does not pair well with roasted marshmallows.
After eating what we could of the marshmallows, we carried on. We made it through the maze, then it was time to search for faires. It didn’t take long before we spotted our first one, a realistic hologram that made me smile. There were several more all just as magical.
Then it was time for us to make our wishes. We wrote them down on the tags we were given at the start and then tied them to the wishing tree. It was interesting to read what other people wished for too.
The last part of Luminate had more lights and a talking tree. Those are just some of the highlights of the Luminate trail at Sandringham. You need to visit yourself to see it all.
Sandringham Luminate Review
Visiting Luminate was definitely one of the highlights of our year. The displays were creative and the atmosphere was magical. It was definitely different than the typical Christmas light trail.
The kids enjoyed it just as much as the adults. There were interactive installations so it kept the children engaged. They also had fun roasting marshmallows.
The staff did an excellent job at keeping things moving and making sure guests followed the rules. The trail was well-marked with white lights so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. It felt very safe.
Sandringham Luminate Logistics
If you plan to visit Luminate, there are a few things that you should know:
- You must buy timed tickets in advance. Tickets are a bit more expensive Thursday through Sunday. Family tickets will save you a few pounds.
- Parking is included with your ticket.
- There are no bathrooms along the trail. Go before you start and at the end if needed.
- Dress for the weather. It’s the winter and it’s dark so it will most likely be cold. If there is the chance of rain, be prepared for that as the trail will still go on.
- The trail is a mile long and well lit. We spent two hours at Luminate. You can go through it faster but I would allow at least an hour.
- You will not see Sandringham House on this trail.
Is Sandringham Luminate Worth It?
The tickets to Sandringham Luminate are expensive, so I definitely thought twice before booking. We could see other Christmas decorations on display around Norfolk for free.
Looking back, I am glad that we decided to go ahead and visit Luminate at Sandringham. We had so much fun and the decorations were quite different to what I have seen at other displays. The event was well-organized and it never felt crowded. Both kids and adults had a fun night.