Bournemouth’s annual Christmas Tree Wonderland is a trail including replica Christmas trees from cities around the world, other festive illuminations, plus ice skating, a Christmas Market and Alpine Bar. It runs from Mid November until the New Year. Since we moved to Bournemouth, it’s become part of our family Christmas tradition to take a wander round the gardens enjoying some of the decorations. Below are some musings on and photographs of Christmas Tree Wonderland. It peters out before the end, basically because I’m too lazy to walk the whole trail.
The illuminations stretch all the way from the sea front, through the gardens to the Square, then on up to the Triangle and along Old Christchurch Road as far as Lansdowne Road. I have covered the entire route on running club Christmas sessions, but it is quite a trek (in the region of 3 miles in total). To limit walking too far, we usually stick to the first 25 or so items on the the trail. It’s also worth noting that the recommended route; starting at the pier and working its way through town, involves quite a lot of uphill walking.
Starting at the pier (which nobody actually does unless they’re Poseidon or the Man from Atlantis and have just waded in from the sea). It is apparently lined with 60 Christmas trees. When we went, only one was lit, which was somewhat of an anti-climax. But, seemingly feeling the need to compensate for the lack of illuminations, the sun provided a spectacular sunset.
2) Walk Through Bauble (Pier Approach)
This year’s illuminations focus heavily on that Insta moment, with an abundance of walk through ornaments. The first of these is a bauble on Pier Approach.
3) Snowman Simulator
There is often a simulator on Pier Approach. Usually it’s a Red Arrows simulator, but for the festive period we have a Snowman simulator. The mind boggles. Is it the same simulator? Did The Snowman have a maximum speed of 645 MPH? Did James have to withstand gravitational forces of 7G? My kids would have been terrified of this ride when they were little. Next…
4) Kyiv tree
New for this year is the blue and yellow striped Kyiv tree.
5) Smugglers Cove
The Mini Golf Course has been given a a festive makeover, because everyone knows pirates love Christmas. Why are pirates so obsessed with Christmas? Because they aaarrrr!
Santa seems to have got himself stuck on the big wheel. If you want to take a look at the illuminations from up high, this is your chance.
7) Giant Reindeer (Bournemouth Gardens)
Moving into Bournemouth Gardens for more festive illuminations. The giant reindeer has been around for a few years, but I think this is his first appearance in the gardens, he’s usually further up.
8) Seattle and Sphere Tree
Likewise, the Seattle Tree has been part of Christmas Tree Wonderland for a while now. This year it looks like it’s had a tree baby!
9) Giant Boot
New for 2022 is the giant boot. When we went, it was switched off.
10) Liberty and Teddy Tree
Also new and also in darkness when we visited. Has Bournemouth Council not paid its electricity bill?
11) Rockery Installation
Outside the Pavilion Theatre, the rockery has been transformed into a magical waterfall of lights. This is one of my favourites. Beautiful to watch but takes rubbish photos.
12) Colour Changing Tree of Light
The colour tree of light is, unsurprisingly, a tree. With lights. That change colour. I love how the lights reflect in the river.
13) Warsaw Tree
The pink Warsaw Tree is a Wonderland stalwart. It is next door to the Lucerne Tree.
14) Lucerne Tree
15) Bethlehem Tree
The Bethlehem Tree comes complete with its own nativity scene.
16) Picnic on the Piste and LED Light Stone Trail
We missed this one completely.
17) 5m Etoile Tree
18) Polar Walk
The polar bears are fenced in so not particularly photogenic, unless you are a fan of fences.
19) Curtain of Light
20) Trees of Light (Westover Road)
Just outside the gardens are the Trees of Light. This doesn’t form part of our lazy pootle round the garden route, so here is a photo from a more energetic running club outing.
21) Bournemouth Wonderland Tree
This 20 metre high walk through Christmas tree is adorned with 30,000 LED lights. There is a regular sound and light show (every 30 minutes from 4pm until 9pm). There are a number of different themed performances from Classical music to 80s pop to children’s favourites.
To be honest, the poor old Wonderland Tree has seen better days; a big panel of LED lights were out leaving a brown rectangle in the midst of the display. Here’s a photo from 4 years ago of the tree in its full glory.
22) Cluster Trees
A cluster of small trees.
23) Ice Rink
The Ice Rink is open daily from 10.30 am to 11 pm. It is necessary to book in advance for a one hour slot. Tickets cost £13.50 for adults, £12.50 for concessions (teenagers, students and senior citizens), £11.50 for children under 12 or £44 for a family of four. A skate aid costs an additional £5. If, like me, you find skating all a bit stressful, you can unwind at the Alpine Bar. Or just avoid altogether.
24) CTW Sign
The CTW Sign isn’t at the top of the gardens as indicated on the map, but at the other end overlooking the pier.
25) Christmas Market (Bournemouth Square)
In the Square you will find the Christmas Market and another Alpine Bar.
26) 5m Grand Vega Tree (Commercial Road)
Continue up past the market onto the pedestrian precinct in Commercial Road for the Grand Vega Tree.
27) Romance Arch and Swirls (The Triangle)
The Romance Arch and swirls are another Instaworthy photo op. I’m not sure what the swirls bring to the Christmas party?
28) Santa (Old Christchurch Road)
A giant Santa sits watching shoppers go about their business in the town centre. And this is as far as we got before (a) getting tired and (b) running out of time on our car parking.