Sunday 19 December 2021

Christmas at Bedgebury - Lights Trail: Your Questions Answered

Everything you need to know for a successful visit to Christmas at Bedgebury (Kent) to see the lights trail. It's a fabulous!

I am so pleased that we finally got to experience Christmas at Bedgebury this year. We were booked to visit last year but Covid stopped that, but no cancellations this year and despite high infection rates, as it is all outside we felt very comfortable to go along and enjoy the festive feel! First off, I can honestly tell you, it is such a lovely trail to walk with your friends or family and we will definitely be booking again for next year.

There are quite a few places that offer these kinds of Christmas lights trails now and if you book to go along to Bedgebury, you won't be disappointed for sure! There are over 1 million lights at Bedgebury and fifteen distinct areas, each with its own distinct sounds. It really is the most magical woodland walk and Bedgebury is a great setting for this light trail. 

When is the lights trail available in the 2021/22 Winter season?

Bad news, I think you might be out of luck for this year as I couldn't get any booking details when I was looking online today. The trail this year has been open since Friday 19th November 2021 and it is due to finish on Monday 3rd January 2022 (with a few exceptional closed days in this period).

It's normally in March that the dates for the next season are released, so get ready to book early and secure your perfect date. 

What times does the trail run each day?

Most days the trail is available for entry from 4.15pm to 8pm (bookable on a quarter of an hour), and you need to have left Bedgebury by 10pm at the latest. If you book for an earlier trial there is no time limit, so you can stay 4 or 5 hours if you so wish. When you book, you'll have to choose an entry time and this is the time that you should be on foot and ready by the entrance, having already parked. 

What happens if I arrive early/ late for my timed entry?

The official line is to arrive at the start of the trail 5 minutes early and to wait in your car until your allotted time, but we arrived about 20 minutes early and I heard a man saying he was an hour early and the steward told him, it wasn't an issue at that point. So, it appears they will always try and accommodate you, but perhaps if you arrive at the busiest time, on the busiest day you might have to wait a little while.

Where is it and how easy is it to get there?

Address: Bedgebury National Pinetum, Lady Oak Lane, Goudhurst, Kent, TN17 2SJ and for us it is a very easy drive, as it is well signposted off the A21. You do go onto the B2079 for a while and this gets much narrower in places but as long as you take your speed easy and are ready to stop and let people pass, it isn't far you have to go.

There isn't any public transport to Bedgebury, so I wouldn't recommend a visit unless you have your own transport, as even the nearest train stations of Etchinghamdand Wadhurst are both about 7 miles away. 

Is the parking free and plentiful?

We visited on Wednesday 15th December and I'd booked the 6pm slot, so I'm assuming this was quite a peak time. The main car park was closed when we got there and there was clear signage sending us a bit further down the road and we ended up parking in the Walled Garden car park, which I'd not seen before. The area had a temporary parking surface applied, which ensured it was easy for us to park and not too muddy. 

You have to pay to park for this event and it costs £8 for a car to park. You are advised to book this at the same time as you book the trail. We had to show our parking ticket as we entered the trail. 

Is it suitable for those with mobility limitations/ wheelchair users?

Bedgebury says that the trail has been designed to be as accessible and inclusive as possible but due to the natural landscape they cannot guarantee it. All the paths are hardstanding but some are steep and as we've had some rainy weather they were a bit muddy and in places a little slippy, so caution is advised.

Walking down from the Walled Garden car park there is a fairly steep hill, and also at the Neon web it was pretty steep, so you'd need to be cautious if a person isn't too steady on their feet, or you are pushing a wheelchair. 

Apparently, in past years there has been seating along the trail but I didn't see much at all this time, so I know a friends mum found it hard to walk the whole trail non-stop.

Should we bring the pushchair?

If you're taking children who are likely to get tired, then definitely bring the pushchair and you shouldn't have too much of an issue, just take it easy on the hills. By the time we finished our trail there were lots of toddlers and pre-schooler crying and whining as it was probably far too late for them at nearly 8pm, so it might be an idea to book for one of the earlier trails if you are bringing young children.

What should I wear? Wellies?

The whole trail is outside so dress appropriately for the weather - coats, scarves, hats and gloves would be recommended and some sturdy footwear. I did wear my regular shoes and they faired fine, with the exception of being a bit muddy by the time we finished. 

How long does the trail take to walk?

The circular trail is approximately 1.33 miles or 2.14 KM long and Bedgebury estimate it will take about 90 minutes to walk the trail at a slow pace, allowing for stops for photos. We didn't stop for any refreshments and we spent 120 minutes walking the trail including the trip form and back to the car park.

When you first enter the trail there is a large map and it is worth taking a photo of this or using the QR code to bring up more details about the trail and then you'll know where you are all the time and how close you are to the amenities such as toilets and refreshments. 

How busy does it get?

I was a little worried about it being so busy that it wouldn't be enjoyable. Most of the photos I had seen were from press nights and I wondered if they had kept the entry numbers purposely low. However, I need not have worried as we went at a busy time right close to Christmas and whilst there were plenty of people around there were parts of the trail where we were completely on our own and we certainly didn't have any problem getting photos without other people in them. The only tricky bit was in the tunnel of lights if you wanted a picture stood in the middle with no other person in sight. If you were happy to go to the edge and get photos there you looked as if you were alone in it. 

Can I bring my dog?

Yes you can, as long as your dog is well-behaved and kept on a short lead (not an extendable one) then they are welcome, but of course, make sure you are a responsible dog owner and you clear up their mess if they make any. 

Are the light displays the same as in previous years?

I have been looking at various other YouTube clips and blog posts and it appears that the light displays are fresh each year, with new designs and concepts used. I was very impressed with this as it keeps the feel of it fresh and means everyone has something new to look forward to. 

Can we see Father Christmas here?

Yes, you can. This year it wasn't in the traditional sense of a grotto where you get to chat to Santa, but as you go around the trail you come across Father Christmas in his wood cabin and the kids can go over and chat to him. There was a little girl about 5 in front of us and she was so excited to see Santa and he chatted happily with her. 

Is the whole of Bedgebury pinetum open?

No, sadly it is only the trail and you can't go off and explore further. I suppose this is understandable as it is a massive site and without the light trail it is pitch black. 

Are there refreshments available for sale?

The regular Bedgebury cafe is open whilst the trail is and we've always found their food to be good quality and not badly priced. It is normally around £4.95 for something like chicken goujons or sausage and chips. You can also buy hot and cold drinks and snacks from the cafe. There is lots of bench seating and some picnic tables outside so you can enjoy the Geo Forest display over the lake. 

There are also a number of street food vendors around the trail and you can enjoy an adult tipple like gin or mulled wine. Or a more traditional hot chocolate. 

Just after the beautiful waterlilies, there was a place to buy large marshmallows to toast yourself. They were £1.50 each, which of course is pretty outrageous for a marshmallow but it is the experience you are paying for and it was fun to toast the mallows and eat them. I did some see people had bought their own ones with them and I'd be tempted to do that too next year!

What about toilet facilities?

Yes, there are three different points on the trail where there are toilets, including by the Walled Garden car park and at the visitor centre by the main car park. We found the toilets to be clean and well-stocked. 

How much does it cost?

If you book in advance you'll make a saving and for peak days you'll definitely need to book as the trail will probably sell out. For the 2021 season, the price is £20 for an adult or £28 including your car parking space. A child is £13.50 (3-16 years) and an infant is free. 

We had a family ticket for 2 adults, 2 children (up to 16 years of age) and it cost us £72, so it wasn't a cheap night but we did really enjoy it and we will be booking again. 

You can access a small discount if you are a friend of Bedgebury or a member of Forestry England. Carers can book a free ticket if they accompany a disabled person in receipt of certain benefits. 

How can I book?

Easy, go onto the Seetickets website -

We had such a wonderful time during our evening at Bedgebury lights. You can check out other peoples photos and videos with the hashtag #ChristmasatBedgebury and Miss M made a short video for Tik Tok, which you can see on my Instagram channel.  A blogger friend of mine Clare at Mudpie Fridays also visited this year and you can see her review over here

Why not pin this post for later?

Everything you need to know for a successful visit to Christmas at Bedgebury (Kent) to see the lights trail. It's a fabulous!

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