Winter experiences that embrace the seasonal atmosphere without celebrating Christmas… not just yet
Bonfire night has been and gone but we’re reluctant to welcome Christmas too eagerly this early in November. We’ve found some perfectly-pitched, seasonal experiences to help you make the most of the cold, dark nights without inducing panic about the impending festive holidays (and all the presents you need to buy first!)
Holkham Hall, Norfolk
Enjoy a seasonal getaway to Holkham Hall in North Norfolk, as it adorns its magnificent state rooms with sweet-scented pine trees, festive greenery and twinkling lights. This November and December, Holkham Hall will open its doors for a whole host of spectacular seasonal celebrations, such as a Candlelight Tour (1,4,8,11,12,13,16,17 and 18 December) of the historic state rooms within 18th century Palladian-style Holkham Hall. You’ll be led through each themed room by an expert guide who will tell you the historic stories that have inspired each wondrous setting.
Later on, when Christmas may be pressing more firmly on your mind, the Festive Food Fair (14-15 December) will be back for its third year at Holkham, showcasing the best of local and regional food and drink. This year there will also be live cookery demonstrations from renowned local chefs to provide that extra bit of twinkle and magic for your at-home winter feasts. www.holkham.co.uk
Dennis Severs’ House, London
Dennis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields is a portal into a parallel universe. It is an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century, as frozen in time by its former, eccentric owner, Dennis Severs. It was Dennis Severs’ intention that as you enter his house it is as if you have passed through the surface of a painting, exploring with your senses and imagination a meticulously crafted 18th Century world.
There is no better time of year than this to fully enter into the other-worldly atmosphere of the house. Absorb the sights, sounds and scents on a candlelit journey at this unique 18th Century house from 24 of November to 6 of January.
Then, when you are ready for Christmas, visit this year’s Christmas installation, with an enthralling first time collaboration with Emily Garland from ‘Maid of Gingerbread’. This original and intricate replica of the house, made entirely from Emily’s top secret gingerbread recipe, is a delight in itself. www.dennissevershouse.co.uk
This is a one-of-a-kind experience in a magical location. This season you can book in for a magical family afternoon (1 December) watching the classic Nutcracker ballet and eating scrumptious afternoon tea in the stunning Ballroom at Gleneagles in Scotland. Performed by the world-class dancers and musicians of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it’s the perfect excuse for a wintry trip up north. www.gleneagles.com
This winter the Festival of Light returns to illuminate Longleat once more from the 9 November 2019 to 5 January 2020.
This year the theme will take visitors on a thrilling odyssey as myths and legends from across the world are brought to life. Filled with extraordinary creatures, ancient deities, magnificent scenery and stunning structures, it’s always a hit with families and a great start to the season of cold and night nights. www.longleat.co.uk
READ MORE: Review: Christmas Afternoon tea at Westminster Abbey