Illuminature at WWT

Illuminature at WWT

Illuminature at WWT

Sophie Belcher explores the Wetland Centre’s festive trail

2021 may be the year that outdoor light trails came into their own. They have been around for a few years but (perhaps accelerated by Covid) they have become a fixture of the Christmas season in their own right.

So it was with great delight that we were invited down to Barnes to see the latest addition to the festive calendar – Illuminature at the London Wetland Centre.

The trail is easy to follow – although I have to confess that we ended up doing part of the trail the wrong way. Luckily for us there were plenty of helpers along the way to get us back on the right track and even offer us information on the birds and animals who call the Wetland Centre home.

The lights themselves are charming, beautiful and genuine. I respect the fact that the Wetland Centre has stayed true to itself. Illuminature honours the animals, birds and insects that call the Wetlands home and that the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) works so hard to protect. I enjoyed seeing nature’s forms and figures honoured so closely in the lights.

While the authenticity resonated with me, I suspect it was less important to my daughter who accompanied me on the visit. Luckily WWT has experience in entertaining primary school aged children – and they pulled out some clever tricks on this trail.

There were buttons to press; lights that danced across the path; and a light room which created tricolour shadows. At every corner there was another light and another view. But it was more than a view – the trail was truly interactive.

There were lights that needed to be switched on. There were selfie opportunities with various birds and bats. There were even some where the lights mimic the beating wings of a bird. Naturally we had to get our arms in time with the beating wings.

The journey itself was straightforward. Heading out from Wimbledon, ours was an after school visit. Parking is straightforward although there are plenty of buses that go past the Centre.

We also took the opportunity to visit the shop and buy a Christmas present for an otter-obsessed 9 year old.

All in all this was a lovely trip that not only got us in the festive mood but inspired and educated. Illuminature is on until 9 January and you can visit every day throughout the school holidays apart from Christmas Day.


Gorgeous light displays in Surrey and London