Hampton Court Palace (our local palace, if you will) is a beautiful structure built by Henry VIII. The palace is now open to the public year-round. Although we haven’t actually been on a proper tour of the house and grounds yet, I frequently check their website because they have some wonderful events. In the summertime, there are evening concerts, flower shows, and lawn parties. In the autumn and winter, they have events like ghost tours, carol singing, and an ice skating rink.
As you know, going on one of their ghost tours is on my BBAL so you may be reading about that in the next several weeks ;-). I also wanted to go carol singing before Christmas and Hampton Court Palace does a carol singing event. I tried to get tickets but it was sold out by the time I got to it so I decided on another festive event: Light up the Palace.
Light up the Palace is a lights display around the palace’s gardens. You start by going through the garden’s maze in the dark which is a really cool experience. The maze was constructed around 1700 for William and Mary and is the oldest surviving hedge maze in the UK. To help you get around in the dark, they line the paths with lights that turn on as you progress. We wandered around for a while, bumping into the same family ahead of us a couple times, and eventually found our way out. Did we actually see the center of the maze? We’re not sure! We’ll have to go back again sometime in the daylight to really get a good look.
The next part of the tour was what they called the Wilderness Porthole, a lit trellised path to walk through.
This path led to the next section called Talking Trees. In this section, they had rainbow lights illuminating a semi-circular row of trees. At the start of the trees was a microphone. When you spoke into the microphone the lights would activate and shine brighter depending on your volume and length of sound. It almost looked like the trees were talking to you. This area was the prettiest and most magical section of the tour.
At the end of the Talking Trees we were led back toward the palace, past a fountain and reflection pool with illuminated lily pads.
The lights on the back of the palace were also interactive. There were foot pads set up on a stage in front of the palace, each corresponding to a different color. When someone stepped on a pad, that color would light up the palace. I gave it a go but it was a bit hard to control since I was surrounded by what felt like fifty kids jumping up and down on the various pads. This part was definitely a kid favorite!
Overall, Light up the Palace was a fun little treat to celebrate the festive season and a good substitute for carol singing. It also whet our appetites see more of the palace – really looking forward to that ghost tour!