Dark nights, bright lights and all the beauty of a winter wonderland – yes, it’s time to get your Festive Trail on!

Here in the magical New Forest, you’ll find a festive trail to suit every visitor, whether you’re looking for a traditional Father Christmas experience, or an awesome display of starry lights leading you into the wintery woodland.

If you want to see what 10,000 twinkly lights look like, then head over to Sandy Balls Holiday Park, where you’ll be blown away by the beauty of their Forest of Light. Their festive trail and seasonal activities are on until December 31 but are only open to those staying at the popular Fordingbridge centre, so why not book a night away, for an early Christmas treat?

Sandy Balls LightImage - Sandy Balls Holiday Village 

For something completely different, check out Christmas at Calshot Castle, right on the forest’s eastern tip, beside the Solent. Santa will be in his grotto, there will be Christmas crafts, a festive activity pack including a Christmas Pudding Trail, a tunnel of light and a Christmas Tree forest. The event is on from December 9- 23.

Staying in the eastern forest, Lepe Country Park is hosting a festive adventure with the one and only Peter Rabbit. Follow the enchanting trail inspired by Beatrix Potter’s beloved characters, including Flopsy, and Benjamin Bunny, and enjoy helping Peter Rabbit to organise the perfect party. The bookable trail is on until January 1 and is suitable for children aged three and upwards.

Lepe xmas trailImage - Lepe Country Park

For those prepared to travel a little further still, to just south of Winchester, Marwell Zoo’s magical Christmas Light experience, Glow Marwell, is already underway. You’ll see more than half a million lights in a rainbow of colours featuring a 36-metre multi-hued light tunnel, a towering Enchanted Tree, colourful clouds and meet some new animals brought to life in a Glow Forest. There’s also the chance to meet Father Christmas in his beautiful grotto, and receive a gift. The event is on until December 30 but MUST be pre-booked.

For the most wonderful time of the year, pay a visit to Paulton’s Park and Peppa Pig World, where they’ll be getting their Christmas on in the most spectacular fashion. Along with Santa’s daily appearance on the show stage, visitors can meet Peppa and George in their winter outfits and explore the seasonal treat that is Paulton’s at this special time of the year.

christmas paultonsImage - Paultons Park

For Santa with cars – and the chance to take a peek at magnificent Palace House in full Victorian Christmas mode, along with carols, music and fabulous decorations - Beaulieu is the place to be. Their winter event takes place on specific dates from December 2 until January 1.

If you’re looking for some festive cheer on December 2, don’t forget to visit Lyndhurst’s Christmas Fun Day. The High Street of the New Forest’s ‘capital’ town will be filled with street entertainers, jugglers and stilt walkers, with Santa and his real reindeer at the Community Centre. After Santa has met all his little friends, he’ll travel down the High Street to meet visitors for carols, mulled wine and a hog roast round the Christmas tree.

christmas beaulieuImage - National Motor Museum Beaulieu

*More Christmas fun suggestions here: thenewforest.co.uk