AGLOW, the newest Christmas light trail in the North East opens to the public today! From 22 November through to 31 December, a glittering trail of twinkling festive lights will be open to visit (closed for Christmas Day). Here’s everything you need to know to help plan your visit.
There are 17 installations to see along the trail, including the biggest Christmas tree in the North East. I’m not kidding, this tree is huge – over 30m high. I like to think they had some contraption inspired by the Grinch that shoots out the lights to cover the tree, but I expect it was a more considered approach (and probably involved a cherry picker)
You can’t miss the Tunnel of Light, over 100m long and the longest outdoor light tunnel in the country too. This will be right in front of you when you arrive through the Robinson Arch to Auckland Castle. You might be tempted to take a walk through it right then, but resist the urge – if you follow the trail route you’ll go through it twice anyway!
A huge tree illuminated with neon lights will immediately capture your attention, even if you don’t want to look ahead and spoil what’s to come. I don’t want to pick favourite points along the trail, but this is really impressive!
There’s disco balls, life sized deer in the old Deer Park, real fire, gingerbread characters and even… maybe, a sighting of Santa!
Wrap up and wear proper shoes
As with any outdoor trail in the winter, make sure you wear proper shoes – boots or wellies are a good idea. AGLOW is not the event to wear your best trainers as there’s mud around and some of the paths are uneven. As it’s all outside, wrap up with warm layers and maybe consider taking an umbrella. It’s not totally accessible due to the nature of the paths and inclines around the trail.
Food / drink
Along the AGLOW trail there are points where you can pick up some hot chocolate, mulled wine and snacks to warm your hands. Son et Lumiere (by the castle) The Deer House/Forest of Light and Santa’s Village which also has vintage fairground rides and a firepit for roasting marshmallows. The food/drink stalls at Santa’s Village were card payment only so I expect others along the route will be the same. Prices were pretty reasonable. Tea/coffee £2.50, hot chocolate £3.50 (including cream and marshmallow) or boozy hot chocolate (Baileys or whisky) is £6 and mulled wine £4.50. There’s beer and soft drinks available too.
Book your AGLOW tickets online. These cost £21.50 for adults, £19.50 off peak, £14.50 for children, £13 off peak and family tickets are available for £66.50 peak or £59.50 off peak. Family tickets cover one adult and three children, or two adults and two children. Children 2 and under go free. Off peak tickets are Monday to Thursday running from 22 Nov to 7 Dec. 10% discount is available for those with DL4 and DL14 postcodes and 20% discount is available for The Auckland Project Annual Pass holders.
Entry to the trail begins at 4:30pm and you can book your half hour arrival slot up to 8:30pm. AGLOW closes at 10pm each evening and they recommend allowing an hour and a half to complete the trail.
AGLOW takes place at Auckland Castle, in Bishop Auckland. Make your way to the Auckland Tower to get your tickets scanned and begin the trail.
Looking for somewhere to park? North Bondgate car park is only a few minutes away from the start of the trail and free after 6pm, but while AGLOW is on, it will be free parking from 4:30pm.
Have you got your AGLOW tickets booked?
I was invited to a press preview evening for AGLOW. All photos are my own.