Presented by Light up Trails, a unique and mesmerising mile-long Christmas light trail will shine bright this festive season bringing the magic of Christmas to Cowdray, a historic country estate set in the heart of the South Downs National Park.
At this joyful and exciting time of year, visitors to the magnificent grounds of Cowdray will be able to walk under starry skies while experiencing the wonder of large-scale light and art installations including a trail emblazoned by millions of LED lights.
Along the way, visitors and families alike will be captivated by a series of installations created by international artists. Magical scenes include the enchanting Star Drop Wood, a festive Snow Globe, the awe-inspiring Tree of Joy and Written in the Stars, an opportunity to join in and write personal illuminated messages.
Inspired by the theme of ‘Joy’, the showpieces include artist Benjamin Clegg’s captivating, surreal and utterly charming ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ that has been loved by audiences around the world. And there is a chance to experience joy at the time of Henry VIII with a ‘Tudor Christmas’ illuminating the historic Cowdray Ruins, one of England’s most important early Tudor houses.
Visitors will be able to interact with many of the installations as well as enjoy an array of after dark festivities including joyful music and delicious festive delights from hot food and sweet treats to spicy winter warmers.
Light Up Trails is the brainchild of Libby Battaglia and Lucinda Croft. Friends since school, they trained professionally as dancers but had never worked together until recently. Last year they realised their shared passion for all things creative and collaborated to create a venture that would showcase light art to a wide audience.
After a successful Light Up Trails project at Wiston Estate in nearby Pulborough, West Sussex with some 25,000 visitors, their latest venture – Christmas at Cowdray – is set to be even bigger and better.
“There’s something elemental about a light in the darkness that draws us to it,” says Libby. “On a dark night, the presence of light brings us together and makes us feel closer and in the hands of artists that becomes a magical thing, showing us the way and reflecting our feelings and emotions.”
After dark, the imagination comes out to play and Christmas At Cowdray promises to be a joyous, uplifting experience that revels in the stunning location and will enthral people of all ages.
“I was enthused by the possibilities of what could be achieved with light art after visiting a festival called Light Up Poole that Libby created in 2018,” explains Lucinda.
“The way that people responded to the installations and the sense of wonder as they made their way between the pieces was absolutely inspiring. I was so proud of Libby and what she had achieved, and I wanted more people to have the opportunity to see a light trail. Thankfully, we got some funding from the Arts Council to explore ways of making light trails work and the idea developed from there.”
Libby and Lucinda are taking Light Up Trails to beautiful, unseen places on a mission to create safe spaces for people to have fun, make memories that last forever and have their sense of hope restored.
The venture consolidates more than 30 years of designing and delivering high-profile artistic events around the world. Libby has worked as a commercial dancer, West End choreographer and international event producer (she worked on the Jubilee Family Festival in Hyde Park) and Lucinda was Managing Director of Dragons of Walton Street, the bespoke children’s furniture makers founded by her late mother that counts royalty and celebrities from around the world as clients. Lucinda managed the company through the recession, developed international trade partners and eventually sold the business.
United by their shared vision of bringing the work of a close band of light artists to a more diverse audience, Libby and Lucinda have thrown themselves into the project determined to make it a success despite the difficulties that have arisen over the last year.
Lucinda said: “We work with some amazingly creative and incredibly industrious people, from our production designer James Smith and the brilliant artists to the technical crew and support team. It is a real privilege to work with these people and the events of the last year have only served to bond us even closer.
“Ultimately, we are all working together to create wonderful memories that last a life time.”