Visitors this winter to Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, in Horsham, West Sussex, will enjoy an ‘illuminated spectacular’ after-dark winter light trail. The historic Grade I Listed gardens will be lit up with light displays and large-scale installations throughout the estate, with live music and theatrical performances.
Leonardslee Illuminated runs from 4.15pm until late, from November 25th -28th, and then December 2nd – 5th, 9th – 12th, and 15th to 22nd. Advance booking online only, at https://leonardsleeilluminated.co.uk
The entrance area in the car park will include a funfair, food stalls and a Christmas market. There will also be a marquee selling a wide range of wines from Leonardslee’s sister estate Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate in South Africa.
The magic begins on fairy light lit walkways that meander down to the lakes in the valley below. Along the trail there are thousands of lights, artist performances and illuminated designs. Artpod has created the illuminated replicas of Leonardslee’s famous wallabies and other woodland creatures.
A further highlight is at the bottom of the 240-acre estate’s valley, where last year there was a huge illuminated moon over the lake, and atmospheric music created by Foz Creative, specialists in outdoor sound and music entertainment. This year sees the addition of an illuminated Earth suspended over the lakes, its reflection cast across the still water, which is sure to leave visitors mesmerised, as last year – when there were several marriage proposals pre-arranged with this spectacular backdrop.
Murmuration Arts are creating musical theatre performances of bed-time lullabies collected from local mothers and around the world. Elevated over the lakes in an illuminated nightgown, The Mother’s Voice is hushed and lulls her children with sublime lullabies as they drift in and out of sleep.
Further along the trail visitors are sure to be entranced by The Drummer Spark, creators of spectacular outdoor music and drama. Shared Space and Light project their large-scale 3D video animations onto the gardens’ trees and buildings. The programme also includes Same Sky, who design illuminated night-time displays and lighting.
The 240-acre estate was established by the Loder family, great Victorian plant collectors, who collected trees and shrubs from all over the world. The collection is exceptional in its diversity and maturity, with several rare ‘champion’ trees, threatened in their natural habitat. There is an acclaimed Pulham rock garden built in 1890, a deer park and a colony of wallabies wandering the estate.
The dolls’ house exhibition depicts the Edwardian era estate and neighbouring villages at 1:12 scale. Leonardslee House features classic afternoon tea and Restaurant Interlude, which was awarded a Michelin Star in 2019.
Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens are open every day except Christmas Day, 9am – 4pm.
For further information
Photo by Ray Gibson