ARTISTS and schoolchildren have transformed an Elizabethan manor into a spellbinding winter wonderland.

The annual Gow Wild event at Wakehurst features a river of fire, a radiating pool and an incredible tree-scape projection.

If you haven’t already got your tickets then you’ve already missed out. Wakehurst bosses have already sold this year’s 38,000 tickets, which is more than the capacity of the Amex.

It is the fourth year the event has been held with many of this year’s lanterns made by schoolchildren in a joint outreach project run with arts charity SameSky.

Among the new installations at Wakehurst, which is near Haywards Heath, is a river of fire which runs into a pool of radiating light.

Fire torches create reflections in the water and mystical music adds to the atmosphere on the lantern trail.

The estate’s main pond has been bought alive with floating lanterns, many of them containing a thought or wish from schoolchildren who were asked to reflect on the passing year.

The Elizabethan mansion is the backdrop for a projection which shows plants and trees rising from the ground and growing to the full height of the home and then gently falling back into the earth.

To the side of the mansion is Wakehurst’s giant redwood – the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree, which is adorned with 1,800 lights.

Inside the house, youngsters have created fox lanterns which they will take home after the festive period.

They also created animal lanterns that are scattered throughout the grounds.

These include a dormouse in its nest, moles digging holes, a stoat and a family of badgers, a squirrel and, of course, a robin.

There are also plenty of festive refreshments including hot chocolate, mulled cider and roasted chestnuts.

Visitors can also take to Wakehurst’s giant firepits to toast marshmallows.

Visitors are advised to wear warm and waterproof clothing.

Sturdy outdoor footwear is also essential. The trail is just under a mile and takes about an hour to walk.

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