A different light
There's a chill in the air and the nights are dark, but this means there's a lot of sparkle on show. I've always loved this time of year, and if you can get past the crowds it's a great opportunity to see some beautiful places shine.
When I was little the switch on of the town's Christmas lights was a date for the diary. It was something that brought the community together - a rare treasure in a commuter town. We'd hope for dry weather, then beneath the tree, huddle in the cold surrounded by smiling faces of all ages. Amid the scent of pine needles and anticipation, there would be a speech from the mayor and a round of carols. Then the count down would begin to the muffled sounds of stamping feet (to keep warm) hushing (from the parents) and excited whispers (that would have been me!) until... ta da... the lights would blaze out into the darkness. Well, ok, it was a small town, maybe that should be twinkle on in a quiet manner - but still, it was magical.
I still love to go back and see those lights, maybe spot an old favourite amongst all the changes since I was a child. And whenever I'm travelling in the dark at this time of year, the unexpected colour and sparkle of some festive lights in the distance makes me smile.
Following my love of light, last week I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the illuminated Christmas trail at Kew Gardens. This is an inspired event involving art, music and activities. As such, it is right up Heritage Open Days' street as it allows you to experience the gardens in a whole new way, encouraging new visitors to discover the site. I don't want to give anything away to those who may yet be visiting, but suffice to say I was entranced, particularly by the carol of the bells spectacle and the present tree.
There are lots of these kinds of events across the country now. So go on, step outside, whether it's your local town lights or a garden spectacular, enjoy seeing your neighbourhood under a different light!