Kenwood House has had a glow up.
Over its 250 year history, the palatial stately residence at the top of Hampstead Heath has been home to six generations of Earls, its own private dairy, and the largest Pipistrelle bat roost in London.
But never before has it had its very own festive lights trail.
That’s all changed this year with the inaugural Christmas at Kenwood, a stunning illuminated walk through the grounds of the house after dark.
Your journey will begin a little way behind the house, so that you get a decent run-up to the main event. And it’s worth saying at this point that it can take a bit of forward planning to get to – your options are either a trek across Hampstead Heath in the dark, or coming in from Hampstead Lane (which has quite a few handy bus routes). Just be warned that you can only walk in through one specific entrance, so make sure you build in enough contingency time to find it.
Ok, boring logistics chat over.
Once you’ve successfully found your way to the starting line, you’ll be able to stock up immediately with a warming beverage – there’s mulled wine and cider, and you can add an extra shot of something else if it’s really nippy outside and you need the booze jacket. There’s hot chocolate, too, and they’re all served up in eco-friendly reusable cups, which is nice.
The first part of the trail takes you through an avenue of wintry trees illuminated with a shifting spectrum of frosty colours and surrounded by frolicking, fairy-lit woodland creatures, all leading to the house itself, which has been bathed in a huge projection of snowflakes. Here there’s also a little marketplace where you can stop off for street food from the likes of The Duck Truck, Vegan Elves and Throwback Toasties (plus more mulled wine). And it’s at this point that the lights really step up a notch.
Following a twisting path through the rest of the Kenwood grounds, you’ll stroll under an avenue of dozens of fairy-lit trees; warm up by a flickering fire garden; walk through a tunnel of twinkling arches; stand beneath a canopy of giant, glowing light-bulbs; and (genuinely) immerse yourself in the futuristic laser garden, with its hundreds of rotating, colour-changing beams transforming the surrounding woodland… all before winding up at the front of the house, where an animated audio-visual spectacle cleverly combines all the usual festive motifs with Kenwood library’s famous pink and blue interiors.
Oh, and there’s another mulled wine stand.
After all, those cups are reusable…
NOTE: Christmas at Kenwood runs until 9th January 2022. Tickets start at £21.50, and can be booked HERE. Please note a shuttle bus service runs most days from Golders Green station – find out more, and plan your journey, HERE.
Christmas at Kenwood | Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, NW3 7JR
Like winter lights? This guide should prove illuminating…