Christmas at Windsor Castle and Holyrood Palace 2023

Christmas at the residences of His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla officially is just a few weeks away. Visitors to Windsor Castle and Holyrood Palace from 23 November until Christmas will be able to see the historic palaces adorned with twinkling lights, glittering Christmas trees and festive garlands

Here’s what to expect on a visit to either Windsor Castle or Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh this Christmas

Christmas at Windsor Castle – 30 November 2023 to 1 January 2024

This year’s spectacular Christmas displays at Windsor Castle will celebrate the 675th anniversary of the Order of the Garter, which was first founded in Windsor in 1348 by King Edward III.

christmas at windsor castle
A Garter Star Christmas decoration. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023.

In St George’s Hall, inside the castle, visitors will be treated to the sight of a magnificent 20-foot-high Nordmann Fir Tree, which was grown nearby in Windsor Great Park. This year the spectacular tree will be topped by a specially commissioned Garter Star (like the one above) to commemorate the anniversary of the Order of the Garter, alongside Coronation-themed decorations to celebrate this special year.

The Crimson Drawing Room will also be home to another magnificent Christmas tree topped with a garter star. This room is one of the most elaborate of the Semi-State rooms, created as private apartments for King George VI. These rooms are still used by the Royal Family for official entertaining and are open to visitors over the winter months.

christmas at windsor castle
The Crimson Drawing Room. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023

The 160-foot-long dining table in the Waterloo Chamber will be laid with porcelain from the Garter Service, and will feature a design inspired by the Garter star and the Order’s motto ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks evil of it)’.

And on the Grand Staircase, impressive festive garlands will greet visitors as they enter the State Apartments.

The Grand Staircase. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023.

On certain dates throughout December, local schools and community choirs will sing Christmas carols beneath the Christmas tree in St George’s Hall.

St George’s Chapel, where Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest, will be open to castle visitors on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and services are open to all, seven days a week.

Christmas at the Palace of Holyroodhouse 23 November to 1 January 2024

Meanwhile in Edinburgh at Holyrood Palace, two magnificent glittering Christmas trees will adorn the beautiful wood-panelled Throne Room and the Great Gallery, alongside festive decorated mantelpieces.

christmas at windsor castle
The Great Gallery. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023.

The Great Stair will be decorated with velvet garlands, vibrant berries and seasonal foliage, wreaths hung in the windows in the enfilade of the King’s Rooms.

And a spectacular table display will be seen in the Royal Dining Room, complete with a silver service, sugared fruit and festive foliage.

The Royal Dining Room at Holyrood. Credit: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023.

On Thursdays throughout December visitors can attend special talks to learn how monarchs have celebrated Christmas over the centuries and a programme of festive music will be performed in Christmas concerts on 10 and 11 December, finishing with a mince pie and glass of wine.

And if you fancy trying your hand at making some of your very own Christmas decorations, at The Carols and Crafts: Christmas Activity Day on Saturday 16 December families can make either clay decorations inspired by the Palace’s 17th-century interiors or Christmas crackers, which were invented by the Victorians.

Behind-the-ropes Christmas tours at His Majesties residencies

On selected dates throughout the winter visitors will have the opportunity to tour the Buckingham Palace State Rooms let be by an expert guide.

This winter visitors can also enjoy an exclusive tour of the State Apartments at Windsor Castle, concluding with a glass of English Sparkling Wine.

And, in Edinburgh, visitors can enjoy private evening tours of the State Apartments at Holyrood Palace once the doors have closed to visitors for the day.

Find out more here: 

For more British Christmas content, see below:

Festive feasts: A history of royal Christmas food

London restaurants for Christmas meals: our top five

Christmas film locations