Halfway between the heady summer evenings and the festive December cheer, this time of year can be a bit dismal. The nights draw in, it’s gloomy, it’s cold. It can be tempting to huddle up indoors each evening, hiding under a blanket and wondering, like we do every year, whether it would be socially acceptable to go into hibernation.

But some places are welcoming the darker nights, flinging their doors wide open of an evening instead of shutting the world away. One such venue exploring the possibilities offered by the autumn season is Rufford Abbey, which has recently launched something called the “Spectacle of Light”, promising an “amazing illuminated trail” and a “magical after-dark adventure”.

Visit Nottinghamshire have enjoyed many a lazy afternoon stroll around Rufford’s beautiful parkland or a sail on the sun-drenched boating lake – but a night-time visit? Really?

Still, never one to pass up an adventure, Visit Nottinghamshire dug our warmest, woolliest clothes out of the bottom of the wardrobe and went to have a look, family in tow.

Even from the car park, we can hear ethereal music floating over the ruins of the Abbey. We follow the sound towards the gates, leaves crunching underfoot and our breath clouding in the evening chill. We make a quick pit stop in the courtyard to grab cups of rich hot chocolate before heading into the gardens.

The Spectacle of Light, it turns out, is nothing short of wondrous. The grounds have been lit up with all the colours of the rainbow: a kaleidoscope of shining lights and dazzling displays. The trees are illuminated with bright pastel hues, a stunning contrast against the black night sky. Glowing orbs float beneath branches and hundreds of brightly lit structures nestle in the grass. Shimmering stars sparkle in the bushes and lanterns sway gently in the breeze.

It’s accompanied by a magical, otherworldly soundscape, changing as you pass through each garden from soft flute music to twinkling percussion to iconic film theme songs. The whole thing takes our breath away.

We follow the trail with wonder, torn between gazing at every new light display and the utterly enchanted expressions on the children’s faces. Even the adventure playground has been transformed into a dream-like world of light and sound to dazzle tiny faces and captivate tiny imaginations.

Our toddler has clearly never seen anything quite so magical, clambering triumphantly up onto the Castle to gaze out over the stunning gardens and to the hauntingly beautiful Abbey ruins beyond, especially lit for the occasion.

The Spectacle of Light has to be one of the most magical ninety minutes we’ve ever spent. Explaining to our two-year-old that it’s time to leave is not the easiest of tasks – though he’s so exhausted by the excitement of it all that he sleeps like a log that night.

The event is well worth a visit – even more so for savvy customers who take advantage of the special midweek discount of a whopping 30% off the ticket prices (simply enter the promotional code MIDWEEK30 at the online checkout). We suggest you bring out your hats and scarves and gloves and kickstart the colder months in style. Carpe noctem and all that!

The Spectacle of Light takes place at Rufford Abbey until Sunday 3 November 2019, with entry slots bookable between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. 

This blog was written by Sophie Milne, Communications Executive at Visit Nottinghamshire.

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Spectacle of Light
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Rufford abbey spectacle of light

Explore the beautiful illuminated trail around Rufford Abbey's stunning gardens, marvelling at the majestic trees and romantic ruins. Enjoy the wonderful music as you discover each new secret of this magical environment.

Rufford Abbey Country Park
Country / Royal Park
Rufford Abbey Country Park

Rufford Abbey Country Park is the estate and grounds of a former 12 century Cistercian Monastery and country house.

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