A floating candle tree that wouldn’t look out of place in Hogwarts’ dining hall and the chance to create your own sound and light symphony are just two new surprises for visitors to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas this year.

The event returns to the Forestry Commission managed National Arboretum, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 30 November to 23 December 2012.

Alongside the spectacular illuminated trail, visitors can buy festive gifts and enjoy warming winter fare or pre-book a Christmas carvery at Maples restaurant.

The illuminated trail finishes at the Education Centre, where children can make Christmas crafts with Westonbirt’s team. The centre will be transformed with snow and decorations to become a wintry delight.

Credit to Rob Cousins.

The one-mile easy access trail highlights the striking structures of Westonbirt’s trees as they are illuminated against the winter’s night sky. A new route is created each year to take in different specimens, paths and vistas in the tree collection.

Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-christmas for information and tickets.

Need to know information:

* The Enchanted Christmas takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 30 November to 23 December, 5 to 8.30pm, with the last entry to the trail at 7.15pm.

* Admission is adults £9, concessions £8 and children £5. Discounted entry is available for pre-booked groups over 10 people and Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum members receive half price entry on Fridays. For advance tickets visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-christmas.

* The trail is accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Reserve one for free in advance by calling 01666 881218 (there is limited availability so booking well in advance is advised).

* The Christmas carvery at Maples restaurant is available 5.30pm – 7.30pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Booking is essential; call 01666 880064 or email [email protected]. Adults £16.95, children (under 16 years) £8.95.

1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is part of the Forestry Commission estate and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to the National Japanese Maple (Acer) collection, The National Arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000 specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford, and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Westonbirt’s website is www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt.

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information at www.forestry.gov.uk

3. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity’s objects are to support The National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. More information at www.fowa.org.uk

Source: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum