With the nights drawing in, thoughts are turning to this year's big festive light events and there are plenty of them.

Whether it's the illuminated animals at Knowsley Safari and Chester Zoo, or the glittering deer at Dunham Massey, there are all kinds of events to help get you in the festive spirit.

This year we're lucky enough to get some brand new ones coming to Manchester too, with Christmas at Heaton Park from the company behind the ever-popular Dunham event and a new Twilight Trail at Mayfield Park in the city centre.

There's also a new event at Tatton Park from Wild Rumpus, the team behind the annual Just So family festival and the Lanterns at Chester Zoo.

Billed as 'a unique blend of an outdoor Christmas festival and winter light trail', Yuletide is based on 'festive folklore, ridiculous rituals and forgotten traditions' and will feature campfire stories, live musicians, fire jugglers and more.

Here, we've rounded up some of the biggest events that you might want to start planning now to avoid disappointment.

Christmas at Heaton Park

New for this year from the same company behind the Dunham Massey event is Christmas at Heaton Park.

In recent years, the park hosted the Lightopia event, but the firm unexpectedly went into administration in January.

Now Sony Music/Raymond Gubbay Ltd promises to transform the place 'into a world of dazzling lights, seasonal music and festive cheer along an after-dark trail like no other'.

Families are invited to: "Discover colour-changing globes of light stretching out into the distance, larger-than-life flowers and neon strings that reach high into the sky. Wander through a laser garden filled with thousands of tiny beams of light and into a giant twinkling tunnel that surrounds you with sparkle."

There'll be a fairground village with seasonal snacks on offer from hand-picked street food vendors and refreshments such as spiced winter warmer, hot chocolate or toasted marshmallows. And for those who don't want to leave their dogs at home, the trail is dog-friendly too.

Tickets for Heaton Park, costing from £10 for children, from £15 for adults, or from £47 for a family of four, can be booked on the website here. Relaxed sessions with fewer people and reduced volume are also available.

Heaton Park, Sheepfoot Lane, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 ODL

Christmas at Heaton Park is running throughout December
Christmas at Heaton Park is running throughout December

Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo

Animals of a different kind come out to play at Chester Zoo at Christmas time - glowing ones.

The Lanterns is a festive family event featuring animal-inspired illuminations, magical lanterns, twinkly costumed characters and Father Christmas himself.

The event promises to 'transform the zoo into a spectacular wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow' and tickets are already on sale for this year.

Expect colourful animal lanterns, spectacular Christmas scenes and festive characters delighting guests young and old.

New for 2023 there'll be fairground rides, marshmallow toasting, larger than life pea-lit animal statues, a sparkling forest of light and more.

The event is running on selected dates from November 17 to December 31. Tickets are available online.

Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1EU

Scroll through the gallery below to see more images from The Lanterns event

Christmas at Dunham Massey

One of the most popular festive events for families is the spectacular magical lights trail at Dunham Massey.

The attraction will return for a seventh year, transforming the historic National Trust venue - including its gardens and deer park - into a festive spectacle.

This family friendly, one-mile trail will be packed with captivating illuminations including light-covered tunnels as well as shimmering reflections that cast light on beautiful silhouettes of the trees, and is choreographed to a soundtrack of festive favourites. New installations this year include colour-changing batons of light, a huge silver star, shrouded in mist, and star-shaped arches, plus, there might also be a chance to grab a glimpse of Father Christmas.

The event runs from November 17 to December 31, except for November 20, 21, 27, 28 and December 4, 11 and 25. Tickets are available for time slots between 4.30pm and 8.30pm, except December, 24, 26 and 31 - and closes at 10pm.

Tickets for Dunham, costing from £12 for children, from £19 for adults, or from £60 for a family of four, can be booked via the National Trust website. Parking costs £8 or is free for National Trust members.

Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ

Scroll through the gallery below to see more pictures from previous Christmas at Dunham Massey events

BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas

Due to the demand for spaces at last year's inaugural festive event at BeWILDerwood Cheshire, this year's tickets for BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas went on sale even earlier.

The sparkly light and panto trail has also just been awarded silver for ‘Best New Event’ at the UK Theme Park Awards, so it's likely to be even more popular with families.

The event lets families follow a sparkly light trail, spotting silly snowmen, a giant Christmas pudding and interacting with favourite BeWILDerwood characters along the way.

They make their way to the Storytelling Stage for a mini BeWILDerwood pantomime.

This year’s event will run on selected dates from December 2 to 23. Tickets, costing £15.50 per person, can be booked for an arrival between 4pm and 6pm. The event lasts around 1 hour and 30 minutes and all children receive a small gift. They may even get a glimpse of Santa Claus too.

To book visit the website and click on 'Get your tickets' to find 'BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas'.

BeWILDerwood Cheshire, Malpas, Bickley Moss, Whitchurch, Cheshire, SY13 4JF

BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas is returning for 2023
BeWILDerwood Presents Christmas is returning for 2023

Enchanted at Knowsley Safari

An illuminated animal trail, enchanted woodland and moving rainbow road will be among the magical features of the big Christmas event announced at Knowsley Safari.

Visitors will get chance to see the illuminated festive event from Saturday, November 18 until Saturday, December 30.

Bosses say the 2023 event will be packed with brand new experiences as well as the return of old favourites. It will include a host of illuminated animals across the site where real-life giraffes, tigers and hippos are more usually to be spotted in the daytime.

Knowsley’s popular Foot Safari will be completely transformed into a cacophony of colour and festive fantasia for the event. This year it will include the new moving Rainbow Road, and a walk through the icy-blue Arctic Arcadia where families can converse with a Talking Tree.

Enchanted is returning to Knowsley Safari
Enchanted is returning to Knowsley Safari

Visitors can also spot illuminated hippos submerged in the Safari’s natural water features, explore an Enchanted Woodland, be amazed as they stroll through neon geometric-shaped walkways, as well as perform in their own shadow puppet show for everyone else to see.

Enchanted favourites will also return, including the Winter Village, marshmallow toasting, illuminated amusements and rides, light-up animals such as giraffes, penguins, zebras and polar bears – plus, of course, Santa’s Grotto.

Santa tickets are sold separately at £20 per child and include a Safari-themed toy as well as a goody bag full of treats.

Access to Enchanted at Knowsley Safari is from 4pm until 8pm, on dates between November 18 and December 30.

Tickets range from £8 to £15, dependent on peak periods and special discounts for members. Under threes and carers go free.

Guests are advised to book early due to demand via the official Knowsley Safari website here.

Knowsley Safari, Prescot, L34 4AN

Knowsley Safari's Enchanted Christmas event
Knowsley Safari's Enchanted Christmas event

Twilight Trail at Mayfield Park

Manchester's Mayfield Park is hosting a festive Twilight Trail this Christmas. The event will feature an immersive light and sound show and promises to transform the park into 'a dazzling city-centre winter escape'.

It comes as Freight Island is once again being transformed into Winter Island - billed as 'the UK’s largest heated outdoor and indoor winter festival'.

A Twilight Trail and light show is coming to Mayfield Park
A Twilight Trail and light show is coming to Mayfield Park

Visitors will be encouraged to enjoy the trail, taking in the lighting installations spread across the 6.5-acre park, before finishing at Freight Island, where they'll be encouraged to stay for further festive experiences – from Christmas food and drink to the chance to see Father Christmas.

Winter Island opens from November 9 until Christmas Eve, with the Twilight Trail running from November 17 to December 31. Trail tickets cost from £7 for November dates and from £8 for December dates. Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) available at £28 for November dates and £32 for December dates. Under twos go free.

You can read more about the event here.

Mayfield Park, Baring Street, Manchester, M1 2PY

The Twilight Trail winter light show comes to Manchester’s Mayfield Park
The Twilight Trail winter light show comes to Manchester’s Mayfield Park

Yuletide at Tatton Park

A new festive family experience is coming to Tatton Park in the form of Yuletide.

The event is billed as 'a unique blend of an outdoor Christmas festival and winter light trail, and is based on festive folklore, ridiculous rituals and forgotten traditions'.

It has been created by award-winning outdoor arts organisation Wild Rumpus, who run the popular Just So family festival and have also produced Lanterns at Cheshire Zoo for the past six years.

At the heart of Yuletide is the Yuletide Gathering, a unique take on a family festival at Christmastime.

Families can wrap up warm round a glowing campfire to watch live musicians, listen to campfire stories, toast marshmallows and even watch impressive fire jugglers. There will also be food vendors serving up tasty festive treats and mulled wine.

On one of the final days of the event - December 22 - there will be a special celebration to mark the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. It will include a torchlit procession, music and storytelling.

Yuletide will run on selected dates from Friday, November 24 until Saturday, December 23, with time slots between 3pm and 7.30pm. Tickets, costing £12 for children, £20 for adults and free for under 2s, can be booked online.

Read more about the event here.

Tatton Park, Knutsford, WA16 6SG

Yuletide is coming to Tatton Park this Christmas
Yuletide is coming to Tatton Park this Christmas

Glow at RHS Bridgewater

The enchanting festive illuminations return to RHS Bridgewater this Christmas.

RHS Glow returns on selected dates from November 15 to December 30 and tickets are already on sale.

This year for the first time, the RHS is working with lighting experts SLX on reimagined routes that will 'give visitors the chance to experience the RHS Bridgewater in a totally new light'.

Families are invited along to enjoy 'a magical evening stroll with stunning new light displays along the way'. Weave your way through yew domes festooned with fairy lights, dance to Manchester anthems under the rainbow lights at Garden Cottage, and be entranced by the twinkling magic of the Chinese Streamside Garden.

Jago Juggling Arts will also return for 2023 with their popular halo light show, performing every night of Glow. With double the number of performances this year, visitors are promised 'mind-blowing effects the whole family will love'.

Tickets cost £7.95 for children and £14.95 for adults. For RHS members it's £4.45 and £8.95 respectively. Visit the website to book.

RHS Bridgewater, Occupation Road, Worsley, Salford, M28 2LJ

Glow at RHS
Glow at RHS

Lands of Lights at Gulliver's World

Giant animal lanterns will make the Gulliver's World theme park glow this Christmas as a new lights festival arrives.

There will be 12 'Dreamworlds' for families to explore at the Warrington attraction, inspired by animals, mega monuments and wonders of the natural world.

Lanterns include everything from a mythical dragon and unicorn, to an elephant, snail and snake and each 'Dreamworld' promises to be 'bursting with colour, energy, and illumination'. There's a special treat for the dinosaur lovers too as the Jurassic zone will feature some glowing dinosaurs too.

The Jurassic zone will feature some glowing dinosaurs
The Jurassic zone will feature some glowing dinosaurs

Of course there'll be drinks and treats to buy too, with festive offerings of mulled wine, hot chocolate, waffles and crepes.

Land of Lights is a 90-minute experience and will be at Gulliver’s World theme park from November 11 until February 25, 2024. To book tickets, costing £19 each (£15 advance off-peak), visit the website. Under twos go free, concessionary tickets £9.50 (or £7.50 advance off-peak).

On November 17 there's a special Land of Lights Glow Walk for Children In Need, with families encouraged to dress up for the occasion. Tickets cost £12, with £5 of each one going direct to the charity. Everyone who takes part will receive a free ticket for the theme park to use at any Gulliver's site next year. Sponsorship forms for the walk can be downloaded here, although it's not essential.

Land of Lights is one of a number of light and lantern trails coming to the region this Christmas. You can see the full list of events here.

Land of Lights coming to Gulliver's World, Warrington this Christmas
Land of Lights coming to Gulliver's World, Warrington this Christmas

Magical Woodland at Blakemere Village

An enchanted, interactive forest walk is taking place at Blakemere Village in Cheshire this Christmas as it launches its Magical Woodland event.

Billed as 'the North West’s biggest and best Christmas light trail', it is set in 15 acres of stunning countryside and features all of your favourite Christmas characters along the journey.

Meet the Grumpy Grinch at Whoville, pop by and check out the 'amazing' house from ‘Deck the Halls’ and then make your way across the high seas and visit Tinkerbell in Neverland. There's also the ‘Frozen Woodland’ and the chance to meet Santa Claus, Mrs Claus and their trusty Elves.

Tickets are already selling fast for the event, which features more than a million fairy lights, multiple laser displays, digital animation, dazzling tunnels, and 'captivating' canopies of lights.

Guests get an allocated 90-minute time slot from the time of entry and the interactive sound and light experience can be looped as many times as you wish, with plenty of opportunities to refuel and warm up with snacks and hot drinks at the food court.

The event runs from November 24 to December 24 and tickets, costing £16.50 for children, £23.95 for adults or £75 for a family of two adults and two children, can be booked online.

Magical Woodland, Blakemere Village, Chester Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 2EB

Magical Woodland at Blakemere Village
Magical Woodland at Blakemere Village

Enchanted Winter Walk, Quarry Bank

Quarry Bank is set to sparkle this Christmas with an Enchanted Winter Walk.

Visitors are invited to wrap up warm with family and friends to 'enjoy the magic of Quarry Bank at twilight'.

With festive lighting, giant sparkling presents and illuminated walkways, guests can wander through the Upper Garden at the National Trust property.

Families are urged to keep an eye out for Mrs Claus preparing the sleigh for Christmas Eve, and little ones can pick up some reindeer food ready for the big day.

The experience lasts around half an hour with some time with Mrs Claus and a warming drink to finish. It runs on selected dates between Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 23.

It's the second year the event has taken place and tickets are on sale now costing £7 per person. The price includes entry and a hot drink and children will also get the reindeer food, as well as a child size hot drink. It's suitable for all ages and babies under 12 months go free of charge.

The Enchanted Winter Walk is one of many events running at the Styal venue between now and Christmas. For more details see here.

Quarry Bank,Styal, Wilmslow, SK9 4HP

Enchanted Winter Walk and other festive events taking place at Quarry Bank this Christmas
Enchanted Winter Walk and other festive events taking place at Quarry Bank this Christmas

Luminate at Walton Gardens

'Spectacular, illuminated trails full of wonder and intrigue' are promised at the Luminate event at Warrington's Walton Hall and Gardens.

The trail will run every night between Thursday, November 30 and Sunday, December 24.

The event features 'a captivating light trail' through the stunning grounds. 'Incredible lighting elements, fabulous light play and ambient music' promises an experience to 'enthral your senses'.

Entry slots are every 15 minutes between 4.30pm and 8pm and the trail takes 60 to 90 minutes.

Tickets, starting from £12.25 for children, £15 for adults and £48 for families, can be booked on the website here.

Walton Hall and Gardens, Walton Lea Road, Warrington, WA4 6SN