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Christmas at Harlow Carr | Glow Winter Illuminations

Have you wondered whether to take the kids to the Glow Winter Illuminations at Harlow Carr?

Ever since the children were babies, one of our favourite things about Christmas is the lights; so many sparkly lights! So we were really looking forward to visiting one of the RHS Glow Winter Illuminations this Christmas. The beautiful gardens to be illuminated this year are Rosemoor (Great Torrington, Devon), Wisley (Woking, Surrey) and our local garden, Harlow Carr (Harrogate, North Yorkshire).

We are RHS members so know Harlow Carr well due to frequent visits. There are several fantastic play areas within the garden, so the children were disappointed to find that these were closed, indeed, quite a bit of the garden was closed. Given that this attraction is clearly best enjoyed at dusk (or indeed in the dark) and the garden is usually closed when the light fades, this should not have been a surprise to us. A well signed route had been set up around the garden guiding visitors around the illuminations. Well placed different colour lights truly enhance and magnify the beauty and mystery of nature lighting up trees, willow statues (including the BFG), streams and shrubs.

Christmas at Harlow Carr | Glow Winter Illuminations

It really was a lovely walk and the children (8 and 5) really enjoyed the lighting effects. Although, even walking slowly, we did the route in 40 minutes. We spent as long in the fabulous gift shop afterwards! Whilst the onsite Betty’s was serving take away drinks, the queue was horrifying. It’s such a shame that hot drinks and snacks were not being served in the café in the garden as this would certainly have extended our stay.

For non-members a family ticket for the illuminations is £22 (2+2, under 5’s free). This would be a bargain Christmas activity if you took advantage of the free children’s activities on offer: “Put on your best Christmas jumper and get in the festive spirit on the Christmas trail. Make a 3D snowman or Christmas tree, decorate a Christmas pudding plate and cookie and don’t forget to enter our Design a Christmas Jumper competition.” In addition, we also saw an offer for children to make reindeer food. Unfortunately, those activities finished at 4pm.

We arrived at 4pm to take advantage of the illuminations in the dark! It’s a shame the times weren’t advertised on the website, but if you do choose to visit, hopefully this review will allow you to take advantage of the additional fun on offer and do these activities before 4 and the illuminations after.

Having been to numerous events a Harlow Carr I would assume that these actives were as well organised and managed as usual. Until Christmas there is also the opportunity to book a “Stories with Santa”. This comes highly recommend, slots fill up fast though.

If you live within an hour or so of one of the RHS gardens taking part in Glow Winter Illuminations, then they are well worth a visit. They offer something a little different this Christmas. Arrive in time to take part in all the activities on offer though (but bear in mind the illuminations are much better in dark than at dusk) and perhaps research a nearby restaurant where you can enjoy dinner and warm up. If not, you might find your visit is over far quicker than you expected.

NB: Kelly and her family paid for their own entrance to Harlow Carr as they are members and were not compensated to write this review.

 

Kelly-Louise Kirby

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