My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

‘One of the best light trails’ – Our review of Christmas at Bute Park 2023

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Christmas at Bute Park is back for 2023 and has opened its doors to thousands of visitors in its first week.

Organisers have introduced an all-new layout with live music and an extra half a mile of illuminations.

Highlights this year include a magical Twilight Garden, a dazzling disco ball spectacular, a magical rainbow road, a giant sleeping dragon, and a whole lot more.

Tens of thousands more are set to follow suit over the next five weeks and experience a string of seasonally sensory delights – which this year also include an immersive light spectacular called ‘Light of the Night’ and live performances of festive tunes from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s brass quintet.

So, what can you expect?

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Those attending in 2023 will also notice a new shared entrance with Cardiff Council’s Winter Wonderland at the Castle North Gate Entrance to Bute Park, where North Road meets Boulevard De Nantes. It makes it easier to find and you can cross safely under the road using the subway passage.

When you enter Bute Park, staff will scan your tickets or you can buy tickets on the day. Although, booking is recommended due to the event’s popularity.

The first part of the event site is dual flow until you reach the start of the trail at the Christmas Village. At peak times, you may encounter large groups of people walking towards you as they exit, but this is only for a short distance until you pass the toilets.

The new entrance definitely makes it easier to find and is handy to know the start and finish points are at the same location. Handy for families or groups to meet up. The only thing that we felt was missing was the grand entrance that they had last year with pathway of lit up trees. They also missed out on the lilies in the castle moat too. We thought this was very impressive and a missed opportunity to repeat these this year.

Those buying tickets to Christmas at Bute park also have the option to visit during a number of different time slots to suit those on a budget. As always, the event is fully accessible to those with wheelchairs and prams, aiming to offer an inclusive celebration of Christmas for all the family.

The Christmas Village

‘Foodies’ visiting in 2023 are also in for a festive feast of delights this year, with a wider range of local street traders based at the new Christmas Village, accessible at the start and finish of the trail for the first time too.

We found this to be a much larger space than last year, most of which is sheltered to protect visitors from the elements if it does decide to rain. There is a good variety and large number of catering outlets to choose from, so have a good look around before deciding.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Visitors will get to make the most of mouth-watering stone-baked pizza, gourmet hot dogs with slow-roast toppings, sriracha-fried chicken, fresh Yorkshire pudding Christmas wraps, loaded halloumi fries and more. For those fancying a sweet treat, Nomad Waffles is on standby with its famous ‘stick waffles’ that are dripping in liquid chocolate. Just make sure you grab a napkin or two!

Stick Waffle (Malteaser) from Nomad Waffles. Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Live performances of specially arranged Christmas and traditional Welsh tunes from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s brass quintet will also feature during peak slots throughout the five-week run for the first time this year too. There is nothing like a Welsh brass band at Christmas and it really sets the tone whether you are just starting the trail or coming to the end!

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

The Christmas Light Displays

The light display feels and looks much bigger than in previous years. It covers a lot of ground and although not every part of the pathway is covered in lights, it doesn’t feel as if it has been spread out too much.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Those with smaller legs, pushing prams or wheelchairs may find it a challenge due to the length of the route, although it is accessible and there are plenty of stops along the way. Fans of Pettigrew Tea will be delighted to see that it has been incorporated into the trail, as well as plenty of huts offering hot mulled wine, cocktails and chocolate drinks.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

A favourite of ours is always seeing what the organisers have done with Cardiff Castle. It looks absolutely spectacular and is one of the event’s highlights in our opinion. it really pulls in a crowd, especially with young children who are left wondering where the rest of the dragon might be.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Although there are plenty of selfie spots along the way, one of the most popular had to be the ‘Give us a Cwtch’ sign. Lots of visitors were keen to grab a photo of themselves under the bright neon lights, whether they were on their own or part of a group. It’s in this area you will find a number of fire pits, where you can buy marshmallows to toast over the hot embers on cold winter evenings.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

The ‘Hiraeth’ display created by Citrus Arts and their Artworks Trainees offers something a little different and unique to the Bute Park display. Pay particular attention to the windows and see what you can find! The students and young artists have been developing set design skills in the creation of a flock of festive sheep and a mini village of illuminated Welsh cottages.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Another display that is popular as you near the end of the trail is the rainbow run. As the name suggests it lights up in an array of colours that people love to hop, skip, run and walk over. It’s also one of the most stunning displays to photograph, but you’ll need to be quick before it changes colour again.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

The Festive Finale is the one that you can see from all around the city centre. Its great big spot lights shine up into the night like something out of the batman films. There is music like a lot of the displays have this year, but it’s captivating as the lights go to sound and is one that people love to watch and take in.

Credit: Rhys Gregory / Wales 247

Those attending Christmas at Bute Park are in for a fresh, new string of sensory delights this year, with a magical Twilight Garden, heavenly host of festive fireflies, a dazzling disco ball spectacular and a whole lot more also on show.

If you are thinking of booking, you won’t be disappointed. The pathways are really accessible and we didn’t have any issues with mud like we have had on previous years. With it being half a mile longer, you do feel like you are getting your monies worth but so do your legs, so keep that in mind with little ones. It’s probably worth bringing the pram, just incase.

The Christmas Village is a hub of activity with plenty of food and drink on offer. The music adds to the atmosphere and it is nice to have it start and finish all in one place, even though the entrance can be a little confusing when there are lots of people.

Christmas at Bute Park’s third annual outing is on until January 1st 2024, with tickets for its newly introduced On and Off-Peak slots already selling out fast.