A botanical gardens has opened its gates after dark for a magical trail of light and art.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural light trail, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens has been transformed by Hampshire company Light Up Trails for Christmas.

The 180-acre arboretum site, in Ampfield, has been brought to life with installations, including a field of glowing tulips, moving projections and returning kids’ favourite - the musical stepping stones.

Daily Echo: The musical stepping stonesThe musical stepping stones (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Co-directors, Libby Battaglia and Lucinda Croft, said: "Our artists are greatly inspired by the natural beauty of this wonderful location and work very hard to incorporate that in their installations.

"Of course, all the pieces look amazing in photos and visitors love taking selfies and filming themselves interacting with the pieces, but Light Up Sir Harold Hiller Gardens is much more than pretty lights - the stories behind the installations are what makes Light Up Trails totally unique experiences." 

The Projection Studio’s Song of the Pine, a three-minute loop projected onto conifer trees in Hillier's Pinetum, makes its debut. The story tells the life cycle of a pine tree.

Karen Monid, Projection Studio sound and visual artist, said: "It's a fully immersive experience with hidden speakers on the approach to the tree - it's almost a surprise to find it.

Daily Echo: Song of PineSong of Pine (Image: Adele Bouchard)

"The soundscape is a simple poem I've written, read by broadcaster and environmental historian Dr Eleanor Barraclough, mixed with sounds and music. The imagery also explores the wildlife, both real and imagined, that is associated with pine trees, so there's a stag, a fox, an owl, as well as the Green Man and mythical woodland creatures. 

"It's quite short, but absolutely magical. At the end a pinecones drops and the cycle begins again." 

Daily Echo: Written in the starsWritten in the stars (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Beyond by James Smith uses reflected and refracted light to create an immersive kaleidoscopic experience for visitors as they see their own reflection repeated into infinity. 

Other new features include the Winter Wonderland with its giant reindeer and Written in the Stars where visitors can write and send their own messages into the night sky. 

Daily Echo: Time for foodTime for food (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Half way along, guests can warm up with some food and drink with stalls including Greek, American, German hotdogs, crepes, waffles and churros as well as mulled wine, warm cider and hot chocolate.

The trail is open from Thursday, November 30 to Sunday, December 31. Tickets start from £20 for adults and £12.50 for children.

Click on the top image to view our gallery from the preview on Wednesday, November 29.