The best Christmas light trails in Greater Manchester and beyond

Manchester is extra twinkly this year, with lanterns, neon, and even fire gardens.

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 7th December 2023

Greater Manchester has been invaded, with so many light trails taking place this year it feels like you’ve been swarmed by fireflies.

There are light trails in parks, light trails in the city, light trails in zoos and light trails in gardens.

There’s a style to suit every taste too, whether you’re into a colourful, nostalgic Christmas, or ultra-tasteful festivities that take your breath away.

There’s even a light trail that will hit the brief if you’re particularly interested in blending winter light trails with disco music…

So we’ve travelled the length and breadth of the north west to pick out the best light trails that are worth your time and money this Christmas.


Know of one we’ve missed? Reach out to us through our socials.

Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester

A brand new festive light trail has opened in Manchester this winter, filling Heaton Park with glowing orbs, neon trees, and fairylit tunnels.


The spectacular new festive event loops around the park’s lake, where installations on the water include colourful ships and light beams.

And down in the woods you’ll find a laser garden, a flurry of bubbles, larger-than-life glowing flowers, and twinkling pink trees.

You can stop off at a festive teepee for a mulled wine, toast your marshmallows on an open fire, and whizz around the fairground rides at the end too. Did we mention the whole trail is dog-friendly, too?


Adult standard tickets £18 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here

The Twilight Trail, Manchester city centre

Manchester’s newest city centre park, Mayfield Park, has been transformed into a festive ‘Twilight Trail’ for the first time ever this Christmas.

This brand-new immersive experience is made up of several spectacular light displays, unique lantern installations, and a captivation sound-scape dotted around the pristine new park – with each circuit estimated to take around half an hour.

And at the end you can dive into Winter Island, Freight Island’s Christmas season, and grab yourself some food and drink, from a build-your-own boozy hot chocolate bar from Cocoa Cabana, to the Smoking Coal German BBQ, serving a whole bratwurst menu, Schweinshaxe in a bun, and a classic hog roast butty. 

Adult tickets £10 | Running until 31 December | Tickets here


The Twilight Trail is now open, and running right through until the new year, and you can find out more and grab tickets here.

Put Big Light On Bolton, Bolton

Easily the light trail with the best name in Greater Manchester is Put Big Light On Bolton, which has a range of light installations installed in the town centre.

There’s everything from a giant moon by Luke Jerram to a Dan Archer creation that brings the Northern Lights to our hometown.

There are special events taking place around the light festival too – but most of it wraps up this weekend, so you’ll have to move fast.

Various dates | Free | Find out more here.


Land of Lights, Warrington

Land of Lights has transformed Gulliver’s World in Warrington into an immersive winter wonderland with 12 ‘vivid dreamworlds’.

The gigantic lanterns are inspired by animals, mega monuments, and wonders of the natural world.

As the sun goes down and the nights draw in, visitors to the North West attraction can explore an amazing array of light installations as they walk all around the park.

More than 7,000 individual lanterns and hundreds of thousands of LED lights create the spectacle.

Until 25 February | Tickets from £12 here.


Lightwaves, Salford Quays

The completely free Lightwaves Festival is back at Salford Quays this week for its 10th instalment, this time with 15 artworks – three of which are brand new commissions.

Highlights include a luminescent artwork in the shape of a six-metre-long whale shark, complete with transparent fish scales, and a tunnel of giant mirrored rings across the piazza that people can walk through.

Then there are giant glowing flowers and a fire garden you can roam around too.

7-10 December | Free, no tickets needed

Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester city centre

Castlefield Viaduct has a series of night time events including a Lantern Lates light trail
Castlefield Viaduct has a series of night time events including a Lantern Lates light trail. Credit: David Bewick/National Trust.

Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester, the lush National Trust site built up on a disused railway viaduct, is inviting visitors to see the urban green space by nightfall.


There’ll be a free Lantern Lates series where the park will transform into a ‘magical, sparkling grotto’.

Visitors can climb up to Castlefield Viaduct , the huge industrial landmark that has views right across Manchester city centre, and savour the winter wonderland created for the coming season.

It’s before the National Trust project closes for a few weeks in the new year for work to refresh the gardens for spring and summer.

Until 1 January | Free | More information here

Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

A brand-new immersive experience has opened at Chester Zoo for the festive season this week.


Lanterns and Light gives visitors the chance to explore captivating light installations and be transported into enchanting lands filled with colour and festivity, all while meeting orangutans, lions, dolphins, and woolly mammoths as they make their way along the trail.

There’s also colour changing displays stretching as far as the eye can see, birds and stars adorning the zoo’s winding paths and trees, and a spectacular Winter Cathedral tunnel of lights.

Until 31 December | Adult tickets £22 | Buy tickets here.

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Featured image: The Manc Group