Pretty lights are synonymous with the festive period – but a tourist attraction in east Cornwall always takes it to the next level each year, with a lantern trail through its famous gardens that attracts people from all over the Duchy.

Heligan Night Garden is something I’d heard lots of good things about but never experienced, until this week. From mid-November to the start of January each winter, the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey opens up during the evenings, for visitors to walk through the grounds and woodland filled with lights and lanterns.

They range from illuminated wildlife in the form of a fox, pigs, beavers and a range of insects to lit up tractors and a wide range in between.

Falmouth Packet: A popular part of the Night Garden each year

From the moment you step through the colourful archway of glowing umbrellas and encounter lantern mushrooms and toadstools, the whole experience is magical.

One of my favourite parts was what I can only describe as ‘humming orbs’. Hung above head height, the colour-changing spheres are accompanied by a sound that is somewhere between singing, humming and a church organ, which reaches a crescendo before restarting.

Falmouth Packet: An array of coloured orbs accompanied by musicAn array of coloured orbs accompanied by music (Image: Emma Ferguson/NQ)

Falmouth Packet: One of the new exhibits for this yearOne of the new exhibits for this year (Image: Emma Ferguson/NQ)

Ethereal and spellbinding, I could have stayed there for some time, but with an impatient eight-year-old in tow we moved on to what turned out to be her favourite part – a snow machine in the courtyard.

There are other little surprises and treats along the way too, including toasting marshmallows over a fire pit, and a canopy of glittering, twinkly lights like fireflies in the trees.

Falmouth Packet: A family of beaversA family of beavers (Image: Emma Ferguson/NQ)

Falmouth Packet: Lantern pig and pigletsLantern pig and piglets (Image: Emma Ferguson/NQ)

In total there are more than 100,000 LED lights making up the experience, which has been produced for the gardens by The Lantern Company.

Those in the south and far west of the Duchy may understandably be weighing up whether driving over an hour on a winter’s evening is worth it; I’m here to tell you it is (and we even had to navigate the dreaded Perranarworthal temporary traffic lights – dedication indeed, although now thankfully gone).

Falmouth Packet: A colourful array of umbrellas at the entranceA colourful array of umbrellas at the entrance (Image: Emma Ferguson/NQ)

A final note for the foodies reading this – The Steward’s House café is open for hot food during the evenings, and the Yorkshire pudding wrap (filled with roast beef and veg), along with a warming cup of mulled wine was worth the drive alone. Thank me later.

Heligan Night Garden now runs until January 2, every Friday to Sunday for the next three weeks, and then every day from December 14 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), with arrival times between 4.30pm and 8pm.

Falmouth Packet: A magnificent fox stands proudlyA magnificent fox stands proudly (Image: Emma Ferguson/NQ)

Falmouth Packet: A robin in front of a Night Garden signA robin in front of a Night Garden sign (Image: Emma Ferguson/NQ)

Entry starts from £14 for adults and from £7.30 for children, with under-fives and carers free.

Heligan Lantern Workshops also run every half an hour from 4pm to 6pm throughout the Heligan Night Garden, which can be booked via the website, costing an additional £6 per child (must be accompanied by an adult).