IT'S just under four months away, but they're already planning Christmas at Hestercombe.

The Hestercombe plans for the festive season feature a sparkling programme of events, in addition to its first-ever Christmas light spectacle - ILLUMINATE, a brand-new, colourful illuminated winter trail that will see the gardens transformed into a winter paradise.

Highlights include:

●ILLUMINATE - Hestercombe’s first-ever light display will see its famous gardens illuminated by a charming light spectacle, leading visitors along a beautiful trail full of colour and joy.

●A series of warming Yuletide events, from its established Christmas Market, working with independent artisans and producers, to wreath-making workshops, festive suppers and listening to the dulcet tones of singers at Christmas carol concerts.

●Magical family events, including the return of Santa Claus, who will be welcoming children into his enchanting grotto, as well as festive garden trails taking place across Hestercombe’s historic landscapes.

Hestercombe’s famous Christmas Market will kick off the festivities from November 19-21 November. Local, independent, artisanal craft makers and producers will be back at Hestercombe with quality, unique gifts, delicious treats and beautiful hand-crafted items.

Launching this November in time for the holiday season, ILLUMINATE will light up the entirety of Rook Wood and Victorian Shrubbery with a beautiful multicoloured display from November 27 to January 2. Visitors will journey through the enchanting terrain, into a light-studded Yew Tunnel, culminating with a fascinating, dynamic pixel display on the turning circle by Hestercombe House.

To complement this exciting new addition to Hestercombe’s seasonal offer, a variety of events will bring a festive glow, including Christmas wreath-making led by an artisanal flower grower and willow angel making workshops, which sold out in record time last year. All sessions are to be accompanied by festive refreshments to relax you into the creative Christmas spirit.

The Taunton Military Wives Choir will be returning to the Bampfylde Hall, warming visitors with the sweet melodies of their favourite Christmas carols, with charming new arrangements from the Taunton Concert Band. There will also be the chance to wine and dine alongside some holly-jolly musicians at a festive suppers. Meet with friends and family to enjoy a sumptuous menu from Head Chef Mathew Taylor and his experienced team, with music, drinks and canapes on arrival to be enjoyed underneath the twinkling lights in the glass-covered Courtyard, as the fire pit crackles away.

Hestercombe is giving the gift of Santa to families this year, bringing a sprinkle of magic to the festivities by welcoming children into his grotto at the Octagon Summerhouse, where a log fire will be slowly crackling away, surrounded by fairy lights, gifts, holly and friendly cheer. His visits taking place after 4pm will include tickets to ILLUMINATE). There will be a series of fun Christmas trails taking place around all corners of Hestercombe’s gardens. Each trail will have a distinctly festive theme, linking together to give a special Christmas prize when all are completed.

For many people, the highlight of Christmas is the food - something the team at Hestercombe is keenly aware of. Every day from November 22, visitors will be able to enjoy a fabulously festive afternoon tea or lunch in the sumptuous surroundings of the Stables and Courtyard. Those enjoying the ILLUMINATE light experience trail will be able to finish up with a rich hot chocolate or homemade sausage roll from Caffe + Gelato.

For those who want to buy some high-quality, unique presents for loved ones, late-night shopping in Hestercombe’s inviting gift and book shop will be available in Hestercombe House every evening during which ILLUMINATE is running. Explore the exclusive ranges in the gift shop with a wide variety of home and fashion gifts