Get into the Christmas spirit at some of the country’s most magical places.
The festive season is about more than just mince pies and rocking around Christmas tree: some of the National Trust‘s most exciting properties have spectacular Christmas events, inviting visitors to celebrate in historic surroundings.
The Winter Lights at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until 15 December) are nothing short of majestic. Explore the abbey and its surroundings during a one mile walk through the Winter Garden, which is lit up to perfectly showcase all that is on offer there, including the uniquely beautiful Himalayan silver birch grove. Live music will play throughout and visitors will be fortified with mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.
The west wing of the splendid Ickworth House in Suffolk will host a Christmas carol service (9 December, 6pm) featuring children from Ickworth Park Primary School. The Georgian Italianate palace, with its famous rotunda, is a magical place to celebrate the festive season. Each weekend in December before Christmas will see the house open up for sessions of decoration making and storytelling by the Christmas tree.
Plenty of National Trust properties are perfect for Christmas markets. Belton House, a 17th century English country home in Lincolnshire that perfectly illustrates the upstairs-downstairs culture of previous occupants, will hold a fabulous festive food and craft market (15-17 November, 10.30am – 4pm), specialising in handmade gifts.
In Carmarthenshire, the Christmas Fayre at Dinefwr Park and Castle (23-24 November, 11am – 4pm) will boast entertainment as well as stalls full of unique gift ideas. The 12th-century castle sits in a lush valley, surrounded by a medieval park full of deer, ensuring that visitors will get a dose of atmospheric excitement before they have even seen what’s on offer inside!
At Petworth House and Park, in West Sussex, A Festive Feast for the Eyes (30 November – 22 December, excluding Thursdays and Fridays, 10.30am – 3.30pm) awaits. This spectacular Christmas event allows you to discover the historic kitchens adorned with the makings of an imaginary feast surrounded by eccentric decorations, dramatic lighting, and figures in extraordinary costumes. Look out for the mice making their own miniature meals in nooks, crannies and even pots and pans. There’s a wonderful Gingerbread Petworth House that sits proudly in the kitchen, twinkling with lights.
Wrap up warm for Winter Solstice at Sutton Hoo (21 December, 2:45pm until sundown). This ancient site will host the pagan celebration, where you can learn about the Anglo-Saxon midwinter feast. A special tour of the burial mounds is available and admission costs include hot drinks and a delicious chocolate Yuletide log.
After an indulgent Christmas day, head to the Chilterns Gateway Centre at Dunstable Downs on Boxing Day at 11am for the Burn Off Walk. The fresh air and breathtaking views will help your mind and body recover from an excess of turkey and truffles.
For tickets or more information visit the National Trust website or contact the NT Box Office on 0844 249 1895.
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