Blenheim Palace is one of the most famous stately homes in England. Close to the Cotswold village of Woodstock in Oxfordshire the palace and surrounding grounds celebrate the festive season in grand style. The Palace itself becomes a floodlight canvas of images associated with the festive season. It is with a sense of anticipation and excitement I walk through the grounds to the palace itself.
I step through the main entrance and into Christmas in the East Courtyard. Lights twinkle on Christmas trees, music from the carousel, shrieks from the helter skelter, and the sizzling of sausages swirl around me. Tempted by the tasty pastries on one of the food fans I linger here, munching on a shortbread, sipping a coffee and soaking up the atmosphere.
I move on, into the Great Court and after crossing this huge square and climbing some steps enter the palace itself. I am in wonderland – beautiful Christmas trees, representing the gifts of a good fairies, line the corridors and coloured lights dance on the domes above me.
I wander through several state rooms delightfully transformed into tableaux relating the tale of Princess Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty. I particularly enjoy the one with flowers that open and close accompanied by haunting music. There is no sense of haste here and I take my time enjoying the moment.
The happy ending to this fairy tale has been re-created in the Library. Here, I am spellbound by the sight of a huge bed with images of butterflies fluttering around it and the ballet music of Sleeping Beauty resounding around me. Centre stage is a pretty fairy tale castle and Aurora herself at the entrance welcoming her guests.
Dusk is gathering when I leave the palace so I make my way to the West Courtyard and the start of the Christmas illuminated light trail at the entrance to the Formal Gardens. This trail meanders through the formal gardens and down to the Grand Cascade. It is a glorious mixture of colourful sculpted lights and music to match the mood. So skilfully put together each section is sound-proofed from the next one. I was glad I had given myself plenty of time and ambled from one brilliant display to the next – admiring threads of light integrated into a majestic tree.
And some splendid Triffid-like blooms.
Below the Grand Cascade a row of fountains weave their magic as they change colour while dancing to different genres of music from Christmas songs to classical favourites. Visitors are encouraged to spend some time here sustained by a row of refreshment vans. This also the turning point on the trail and it continues alongside the Great Lake back to the palace.
Towards the end of the trial I meet a very jolly Father Christmas. Who can resist having a photograph with Santa? Not me. So I pause for a photo before ending my visit browsing through the Christmas market. A good opportunity to buy some unusual Christmas presents and some memories of a perfect start to the festive season. My visit was all the more enjoyable as I was staying in one of the luxury lodges at the Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat on the perimeter of the Blenheim Palace Estate.
Click” here”: https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/christmas/ for more information about Christmas events at Blenheim Palace and here for information about the Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat the ideal place to stay when visiting Blenheim Palace.
Reviewed by Valery Collins, the Experienced Traveller An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 27 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.