If you're a lover of decking the halls with all things tinsel, you'll certainly appreciate the Christmas decor at these English stately homes. With larger-than-life Christmas trees and grand staircases festooned in festive fairy lights, these Christmas houses make for the perfect December day out.
Castle Howard is as grand as they come and when this baroque Yorkshire pad is festooned with traditional decorations – including twinkling Christmas trees spiraling towards painted ceilings – it’s almost too much for the eyes to handle. Give them a rest, then, by mooching around the Christmas market in the Stable Courtyard.
Modelled on the Temple of Fortuna Virilis and the Pantheon, Holkham’s Marble Hall is one of England’s most elaborate spaces and its majestic beauty reaches new levels come Christmas time. Columns are wrapped in fairy lights, Christmas trees line the staircase and giant baubles dangle from the ceiling. See this and lots of other decadent state rooms as part of the Christmas candlelit tours of the house.
Blenheim Palace may be the birthplace of Britain’s most iconic Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, but come December we’re only visiting for one thing – the show-stopping Christmas decorations. Lasers, light tunnels, a scented fire garden, and thousands of twinkling pea lights, oh my! And we haven’t even touched on what’s waiting inside – more lights, giant Christmas trees and The Nutcracker-themed displays.
This 15th-century country pile takes Christmas and its decorations very seriously. There’ll be twilight events with mince pies and mulled wine, festive music, and plenty of bejewelled Christmas trees for those essential Christmas selfies.
The holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – aka the real-life Father Christmas who introduced many of the traditions we still celebrate – is arguably the best place to relish in all things festive. See the Italianate villa adorned in plenty of festive finery, enjoy rides on a vintage carousel and make your own traditional wooden toy.
Visit Waddesdon, the Rothschild House & Gardens in Buckinghamshire, for magical lights and gardens aglow. Set against the backdrop of the North Front of Waddesdon Manor – complete with six large Christmas trees – is the Christmas Fair, full of festive treats from over eighty hand-selected artisan stalls housed in charming wooden chalets. As twilight falls, watch the landscape come to life with Waddesdon’s playful Winter Light trail. Take a stroll beneath sparkling tree canopies, past giant dandelions and walk through a tunnel of light hoops before stopping to admire Waddesdon Manor’s façade illuminated with dancing lights set to music.
See the childhood home of Anne Boleyn transformed into a festive paradise this Christmas. Spot Jiminy Cricket on the Adventures of Pinocchio on this year’s themed Christmas trail – you’ll begin in Geppetto’s Workshop before journeying through the land of toys and under the sea before seeing the Blue Fairy grant Pinocchio’s wish of becoming a real boy. Once the sun goes down, enjoy a walk under the stars on the Magical Christmas Light Trail to admire the castle, gardens and lake festooned with fabulous colours and twinkling lights, before jumping on fairground rides and cuddling fluffy Huskies. Inside the castle, you’ll be met by beautifully and traditionally decorated rooms, welcoming log fires and twinkling Christmas trees – more than enough to get you into the festive mood.
Encounter a ‘Riotous Christmas’ at Moseley Old Hall
Step back in time to 1652 when Oliver Cromwell is said to have banned Christmas. Sound bleak? Don’t despair – the party won’t stop at rebellious Moseley. Celebrating Christmas in a way that would make Charles II proud, the house will be dressed with traditional decorations, have board games to play in the Parlour and 17th-century sweet treats to taste in the Brewhouse. You’ll be able to gather around the fire for some Christmas storytelling and even try your hand at crafting some of your own decorations using a selection of handmade materials. Just try not to get caught!
This year, Hanbury Hall is turning back the clock for a Christmas inspired by rumours of wild parties at the Hall in the 70s and 80s. Celebrate in true retro style as you explore the ground floor of the 18th-century house, dressed to the nines in bright lights, baubles and tinsel galore. If you were a child of that era, you can reminisce over your favourite toys from across the two decades and even sing along to all the catchy Christmas number ones. Also keep an eye out for Father Christmas, you might spot him having a snooze in front of the television.
Discover tales of Christmas past at Belvoir Castle
Styled by award-winning interior designer, Charlotte Lloyd-Webber, Belvoir Castle will be kitted out with exquisite Regency-style decorations, similar to how past residents used to decorate for the Christmas period. Discover state rooms adorned with festive lights, colourful trees and exciting displays before embarking on the Enlightened Belvoir light trail around the Castle grounds, complete with talking trees, interactive stepping stones and breathtaking light displays.
See Buckland Abbey decorated head to toe this year, with every room adorned with festive Tudor cheer. Admire the Georgian staircase festooned with over 700 decorations, all made by the Abbey’s volunteer costume group, and fireplaces draped with garlands handmade by the local florist. On the top floor of the Abbey, the trees will be decorated by local Girl Guides groups and in the Great Barn you can walk through a Christmas tree forest along a River of Light, which showcases the importance of the river at Buckland.
Every weekend leading up to the big day, choirs, musicians and groups will perform festive classics around the large Christmas tree in the Great Barn and on selected days you can even meet Olde Father Christmas, dressed in all green, to help him finish making some all-important gifts.
Snoop around this 17th-century mansion in Hampshire as it’s luxuriously transformed for a Victorian Christmas. The ground floor rooms are filled with authentic decorations, twinkling Christmas trees dripping with beads, candles, cornucopias and angelic cherubs, and a warm festive glow. Little ones can follow indoor family trails that take them back in time to learn about intriguing characters – from Tudor courtiers to Civil War Royalists – who have called The Vyne their home, and keep their eyes out for woodland creations hidden among the decorations.
After exploring the house, wrap up warm and take a glorious winter walk across the ancient estate. Families can also follow Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander trail, to search for Percy’s activity points and give nature a helping hand.