Warwick Castle begins any Christmas event with a distinct advantage – it has over a thousand years of experience.
It is also well-placed to create an atmospheric Christmas experience given the impressive backdrop of the castle walls.
The Great Hall and State Rooms of the castle’s interior are once again decked in traditional Christmas trees and decorations.
The format here hasn’t changed for at least a decade, but rightly so because the décor remains stunning and film-like in quality.
Tourists and locals in equal measure take pictures of almost every tree and every setting, all of which have their own unique character.
Outside the castle walls, there is a small collection of festive food and drink stalls which – as is now common in the UK – are heavily European based.
Open fires cook deliciously authentic German bratwurst sausages, and marshmallows are also on offer for self-toasting.
Other stalls offer traditional Christmas market staples including waffles, pastries, hot cider and mulled wine.
And slightly out-of-place, but welcome in its diversity, is an oriental noodle and chicken bar.
The only other thing slightly unusual is the modern pop music that provides the backing to the ice skating rink.
It is possible to experience the Christmas market and its offerings without paying an admission fee.
But the ice skating comes at a cost, including for annual pass holders. 45 minutes costs between £15 and £19 depending on what day you choose to go.
The Light Trail opens from 4:30 pm, by which time the sun has set and total darkness isn’t far away.
The walkthrough event comes at an additional cost on top of castle admission (which isn’t required), and annual pass holders are also required to pay the cost, which is similar to the ice rink.
Pass holders get a 20% discount on both the ice rink and the Light Trail.
But the trail is undoubtedly the highlight of the castle’s – and probably the wider West Midlands’ – Christmas offerings.
It stuns throughout, being a clever mixture of the modern and traditional. White light and colour compliment each other perfectly and it is never tacky.
The Light Trail takes a good hour to walk through the experience, which also features a powerful tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Excerpts of the monarch’s past Christmas messages play before her famous side portrait is lit up in silvers, pinks, purples and blues.
Down by the river, the lighting almost resembles lasers when photographed, but there is actually no such intrusive technology here.
The walls of the castle itself also serve as the screen for a continuously re-running light and music display.
Virtually everything on the Light Trail deserves a moment of pause and, for many, a photograph.
As we head to the event’s exit, the market area seems disappointingly quiet on this sharply cold early-evening, an apparent shame that more aren’t coming to experience this great event.
But just then a small army of school children file into the castle’s entrance.
There’s no doubt that they are in for an evening to remember.
Christmas at the Castle and the Light Trail run through to 2 January in the New Year.