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Review: We Begin the Festivities at Auckland Castle's AGLOW

Winter light trail
November 2023
Reading time 3 Minutes

Light trails are making local towns and cities sparkle and shine this Christmas, and we headed along to Bishop Auckland's AGLOW to check out The Auckland Project's brand-new trail

With the tallest Christmas tree in the North and the longest outdoor light tunnel in the country, AGLOW really is a sight to behold.

Until New Year’s Eve (excluding Christmas Day), visitors to Auckland Castle are invited to follow a glittering one-and-a-half-mile trail through the grounds, the Deer Park and along the River Gaunless. A special Santa’s Village, complete with a performance stage, awaits families too. 

Following a trail of Christmas trees, we reach the castle where colourful projections of light put on a Nutcracker-themed show of their own. Cameras at the ready! There are also neon angel wings to pose in front of. Following the sparkling 100 metre-long tunnel of 100,000 stars, we arrive in the parkland where lasers, neon ropes, mirror balls, LEDs and starburst trees dazzle us. Be warned, it gets particularly muddy under foot and the trail isn’t completely flat – so be sure to wear the right shoes.

Further along the trail we’re greeted by life-sized illuminated deer at the Deer House, stopping to film the dancing water fountains at the River Gaunless and dancing fire illuminations further along the trail (both in time to music). As we turn a corner, the tallest Christmas tree in the North is in sight.  

At 32 metres tall, it towers over Santa’s Village where wooden cabins offer festive food and drink, and we warm up with a mulled wine by the fire pits. The man himself and his mischievous elves head to the stage to entertain both children and adults with a live show performed every 20 minutes. In between the shows, children can make the most of the vintage fairground rides and games, including a 1934 children’s train with carriages named after North East towns and a Hook-a-Duck stall. 

A slightly uphill walk leads us back to the tunnel for the perfect photo opportunities before heading back into the town. The sheer scale of this trail means you can easily spend a couple of hours here (especially if you’re taking as many photos as we did!). It’s a fabulously festive treat for the family you won’t want to miss this Christmas. 

For those making a day of it, The Auckland Project has plenty more to offer with Auckland Castle, the Spanish Gallery, Faith Museum and Mining Art Gallery, open Wednesday to Sunday from 10.30am–4pm. Tickets for AGLOW are £21.50 for adults, £14.50 for children or £66.50 for families (one adult and three children, or two adults and two children). Children aged two and under enter for free. The Auckland Project Annual Pass Holders receive 20 percent discount on the ticket prices. Tickets can be booked at 

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