7 Stately homes to not miss this season

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Twinkling lights, warm gingerbread aroma wafting through the air, squeals of delighted children on rides — all signs the Christmas season is almost here. Although it may feel as though you just pulled out your pumpkins and scarecrows, the festive holiday season in the U.K. extends from the middle of November through the first part of January. What better way to help you get into the spirit than visiting a beautifully decked out stately home? Here are 7 spots you won’t want to miss this year.

Hampton Court Palace
Nov. 22, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020

This favored home of King Henry VIII is transformed from a regal palace to an Elizabethan winter wonderland. Lace up your skates for a spin around the ice rink, or bring the kids for some fun Christmas crafts on the weekends. Warm up with festive cooking demonstrations and street food. Be sure to visit Dec. 6-8 for the Festive Fayre, complete with local handcrafters and sing-alongs throughout the palace grounds.

Blenheim Palace
Nov. 22, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020

The birthplace of Winston Churchill hosts one of the most well-known illuminated light trails in England. With more than 100,000 lights, walk through a canopy of sparkling colors and take in the impressive laser light show. Warm up by exploring the ornately decorated home, with this year’s theme borrowing from Lewis Carroll’s classic, “Alice in Wonderland.” Find one-of-a-kind gifts at one of the many market stalls in the courtyard.

Chatsworth House
Nov. 9, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020

While this home opened for the Christmas season this past week, there is limited access Nov. 15-17 due to the recent flooding in the area. However, it is absolutely worth the slight delay. Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House boasts more than 100 vendors at their Christmas market. The lavishly decorated manor is hosting Twilight Evenings each Thursday and Friday in December. Wander the halls while sipping wine and listening to live music after hours.

Holkham Hall
Nov. 14, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020

This palatial home situated on the tip of the eastern Norfolk coast is full of seasonal activities and merriment. Visitors can create their own wreaths, enjoy delicious treats and listen to carols sung by the spectacular operatic group, Diva Opera. For something a little more unique, partake in one of the two types of candlelight tours offered. The Champagne, Candlelight and Creators of Christmas tour takes you behind the scenes of decorating the immense space. The Candlelight Nativity is a state-of-the-art masterpiece, which includes computer-generated imagery and graphics.

Blickling Estate
Nov. 30 - Dec. 20, 2019

Four hundred years of Christmas is on display at the sprawling Blickling Estate just north of the southeastern city of Norwich. Wander through the beautiful Garden of Lights before feasting on tasty fare, including venison burgers featured during weekends. Inside the mansion, travel through holiday history, as each of the rooms is decorated from a different era. Find a treasure trove of gifts in the amazing second-hand bookstore.

Anglesey Abbey
Nov. 16, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020

Thanksgiving is often overlooked in the U.K.; however, Anglesey Abbey is paying homage to Lord Fairhaven’s American heritage with a Turkey Day celebration and exhibit from Nov. 16-28. On Nov. 30, the stately home will travel back in time to Christmas in the 1960s. This year’s theme is Tinsel and Tweed and features far-out decorations from the decade which gave us bell-bottoms and the Beatles. Visitors can enjoy carolers while sipping seasonal coffees and hot chocolate. Be sure to check out the Winter Lights which combine nature, music and lights.

Belton House
Nov. 28 - Dec. 30, 2019

This smaller and slightly unassuming manor is a fantastic spot for Christmas cheer. Complete with charming Victorian-era amusement rides for the whole family, visitors can walk through the breathtaking Tunnel of Light. Thousands of lights combined with music make you feel as though the trees are singing. Discover a carpet of ethereal glowing flowers, and marvel at the Fire Garden. Warm up inside and check out the glitzy Art Deco ornaments and decorations from the roaring ‘20s.

Waddeson Manor
Nov. 16, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020

Taking a quite literal approach with their seasonal theme, Waddeson Manor is taking their cue from Christmas music. Inspired by yuletide melodies, each room displays a spectacular interpretation of hit Christmas carols and songs. There are plenty of activities for everyone including make-your-own lanterns and a fascinating art installation in the stables. As the sun fades, stroll along the Winter Light Trail and delight in the stunning illuminations displayed on the manor facade.

 

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