Christmas at Waddesdon Manor
Now is the time when local towns and houses begin holding their Christmas events and shopping fairs to get us all in the spirit of the festive season. I thought therefore I would share with you how I spent my Saturday this weekend. I got in early so I could tell you all about the Christmas fair and carnival at Waddesdon Manor in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
As you can imagine with so many fabulous interiors, I am a national trust member, often taking inspiration from the renovation work the trust does and used them as references when studying - looking back at previous architecture and interior styles during my degree.
Being a member means it is free to enter the national trust grounds at Waddesdon so you can take part in the Christmas Fair and all the fabulous stalls as well as the displays that run through the gardens.
The car park, which is where most of us start, was well sign posted, a good size and well organised. Being a distance from the house there were frequent buses running and plenty or toilets. On entering the site the fair is the first thing you see. The stalls are set against the backdrop of the floodlit North Front of the Manor, with its 20 ft Christmas trees and magical light and sound show - it was truly wondrous.
You soak up the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas exploring the 86 hand-selected exhibitors all housed in charming little wooden chalets decorated to their brand with Christmas touches.
There was an exciting variety of quality, unique gifts like clothing, personalised decorations and candles as well as an abundance of festive food stalls - most of which were offering tasting ...which was very popular.
Some of my favorites included Blacks Cheese (try the Charcoal Black!), Cherry Tree Preserves and The Old Fashioned Pudding Company. As well as filling up on the festive food for entertaining at home, there were of course, plenty of foods to keep you going.
The crepes and burger (street food) stalls both seemed busy most of the day but we chose the festive dishes of the Smoke Yard Kitchen. The turkey burger with homemade slaw, sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce went down particularly well (see below). For something sweet you wouldn't be disappointed either, with curros and marshmallows, sweet stalls and ice-cream. Of course Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without plenty of mold-wine, beers and gin too.
The Christmas Carnival displays take inspiration from the wondrous festivals and celebrations designed by the unique and special treasures held at Waddesdon's - from sumptuous feasts, lavish gifts and masked balls to theater, fancy dress and fairy tales - there was really something for everyone.
The event aimed at families was a fabulous festive day out and it was great to watch at dusk as the grounds come to life with a light show (created by the Guildhall School) projected onto the stable walls, inspired by the objects, architecture and gardens of Waddesdon. Also at the stables we enjoyed the walk through tunnel of lights and a bauble make session.
The weather was still holding out so we followed the festoon lit playground path back to the Manor, with sounds accompanying the journey.
As if that wasn't enough, you can choose to pay £5 adult, £2.50 child, £12.50 family (up to 2 adults + 3 children) for advance booking to decorated rooms in the house (you do have to remember to book these as there are no house tickets for sale on the day - under 5's are Free). If you are not national trust then normal garden admission applies to the grounds too.
Inside you'll find dazzling decorations and trees sparkling with lights in their dramatic scenes. Each room decorated to fit the unique treasure found at Waddesdon (you can also see more on these in a video showing in the Power House building). The house was closed for 2 weeks to decorate and is a beautiful display. Although they didn't have the physical sheets, Evie also got to join in on a treasure hunt around the house finding numbered stars as she went.. this was a highlight for her.
If you want to see the carnival, gaze at the decorated house, explore Christmas fair and indulge in the celebratory foods and shopping for gifts... The grounds are open 11 am - 6 pm, Wed-Sun, Sat 10 Nov - Sun 16 Dec (A week longer than ever previous years) and in my opinion, well worth a family day out this Christmas!
Video from National Trust