Visit “The Loveliest Castle in the World” this Christmas to experience the glamour of a country house in the festive season.
From 5 December 2011 to 2 January 2012, traditional Christmas decorations will fill Leeds Castle and many of the rooms will be beautifully decorated with scenes inspired by classic children’s stories for the whole family to enjoy.
A selection of traditional and contemporary stories will be represented throughout the castle using colourful costumes, decorations and props.
This winter, the Queen’s Gallery will be transformed into Alice’s adventures in wonderland and the Queen’s bedroom will become tales from the Arabian Nights with inspiration taken from ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’. The Lady Baillie bedroom will be inspired by a scene from the classic ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ and the Seminar Room will become Willy Wonka’s famous Chocolate Factory.
Younger children will enjoy visiting the magical world of ‘The Gruffalo’ in the Fountain Courtyard at the centre of the castle. Other classic stories will include ‘Narnia’ and ‘Twas the night before Christmas’.
On 15, 19, 20 and 22 December, winter wonderland characters will bring the castle to life with Christmas evening tours. Be guided on an entertaining and lively tour with Jack Frost and other traditional festive figures, who will bring the castle to life. Enjoy a glass of warm mulled wine or hot chocolate together with a delicious mince pie in the Gatehouse on arrival, before your magical tour begins. Tours last approximately 45 minutes. Entry is timed from 5pm to 7.45pm. Tickets cost £15 for adults, £12 for seniors and £10 for children (under 16 years). Tickets must be pre–booked by calling 01622 880008, open weekdays 10am to 5pm.
Children can also visit Father Christmas in the castle along with an evening tour for an extra £5 per child. Tour and visit must be booked together.
Warm up by the crackling log fires in the castle before visiting the oak–beamed 17th century Fairfax Hall Restaurant which offers an excellent choice of freshly prepared dishes and spectacular views of the castle over the moat.
Children can visit Father Christmas in his mini castle grotto in the courtyard on 10 and 11 December and daily from 16 – 24 December. As Father Christmas is very busy this time of year, pre–booking is essential to avoid disappointment. Tickets to see Father Christmas cost £8.50 per child which includes a surprise gift. A valid Key to the Castle ticket is also required. Please phone the Leeds Castle Box Office on 01622 880008, open weekdays 10am to 5pm.
For adults, come and try Christmas shopping somewhere different this year. Avoid the Christmas rush and visit Leeds Castle’s shops where you can browse at leisure and purchase unusual, quality gifts for friends, family and even find some glittering decorations for your Christmas tree. The shops will be stocked with Christmas gifts from late October. You do not need an admission ticket for the Leeds Castle Shop at the main entrance and parking is free. Key to the Castle tickets cost £18.50 for adults; £16 for seniors and visitors with disabilities (carer goes free); £11 for children (under 4s free). Tickets are valid for 12 months so you can pay once and visit all year round. Leeds Castle is located near Maidstone in Kent just off Junction 8 of the M20 and only one hour’s drive from London. Grounds open at 10am daily and the castle is open from 10.30am. Last admission is 3pm and gates close at 5pm.
Elsie the Castle Train Leeds Castle’s exciting new land train. Children and adults will enjoy riding on Elsie from the main entrance up to the castle. A charge of 50p per person each way applies.
World of Wings Shows Exciting falconry and free–flying bird shows in a flying arena near the maze at 1.30pm (weekends only during winter opening times). Featuring an exotic collection of species from five continents, the presenters aim to inform as well as entertain visitors about the birds they fly each day. Children and adults alike will be spellbound at the sight of storks, black kites, blue and gold macaws, conures, falcons, a bald eagle and a young brown wood owl flying overhead.
Aviary Talks Join one of the expert keepers for a guided tour of the castle’s internationally renowned aviaries at 2.15pm daily. Enjoy a fascinating glimpse into the world of modern conservation and captive breeding programmes as you learn more about the birds in the collection. Included in the castle admission price.
Go Ape! Test your nerves and agility on the Go Ape! High wire forest adventure in the castle parkland. For further details and to book online visit goape.co.uk/leeds-castle or call the Go Ape! booking centre on 0845 643 9215.
Pay & Play Golf Course The castle’s scenic 9–hole, par 33 golf course offers a combination of blind tees, strategically placed bunkers and medieval moat to provide challenging and rewarding holes from start to finish. 9 holes from £9.99. Call the Golf Shop on 01622 767828 or visit leeds-castle.com/golf
General Admission Prices: Key to the Castle tickets Adult £18.50 Senior Citizens/Students/Visitors with Disabilities £16 (carer goes free) Children (4–15 yrs) £11 Prices from 1st April 2011 – 31st March 2012 Group and education rates available on request by contacting the Group Reservations Co–ordinator on 01622 767865.
Opening Times: Open throughout the year. Closed 5 & 6 November and Christmas Day 2011. Please visit our website for up to date information or call: 01622 765400. April to September; Castle opens 10.30am. Last admission 4.30pm. Gates close at 6pm. Shops 10am – 5.30pm. October to March; Castle opens 10.30am. Last admission 3pm. Gates close at 5pm. Shops 10am – 4pm. Grounds open at 10am daily. Latest entry to Castle is 30 minutes after last admission time.
Directions: Leeds Castle is located near Maidstone just off Junction 8 of the M20 between London and the Channel ports, clearly signposted from the motorway with brown tourist signs. It is one hour’s drive from London, 25 miles from the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone and 38 miles from the port of Dover.