Monday, 17 November 2014

Christmas at England's greatest Elizabethan house - Burghley

Christmas at Burghley

Christmas will be even more sparkling this year at England’s greatest Elizabethan house – with a free craft fair, extra seasonal shopping and a feast of festive food.

Dressed for the occasion, Burghley House, on the edge of Stamford, will have more Christmas decorations than ever before, while this year the annual Craft Fair will move to the House, adding to the festive feel around the cobbled courtyards.

For 2014, the Burghley Christmas Fair, run by the Rural Crafts Association, has been brought up the House and will nestle within the Brewhouse and courtyard, close to Burghley’s Orangery restaurant and shops. Entry this year is free of charge and stalls will feature unique textiles, unusual sculptures, artisan chocolates, jewellery and cashmere and silk pashminas (27-30 November, 9am until 5pm and 4pm on Sunday).

Also over that weekend, the free-to-enter Christmas Fine Food Market returns to offer visitors even more tasty treats. A celebration of local produce, stall holders will be selling local cheese, meats, cupcakes, cider and much more in the festively decorated courtyards, Saturday 29th November - Sunday 30th November.

Or how about Christmas carols in the intimate surroundings of the family Chapel within the House? What more traditional way to begin festive celebrations than at the Chapel Carol Concert with music spanning the House’s five centuries of history. Mulled wine and mince pies will be served in the candlelit Old Kitchen during the interval. (Sunday 14th December). 

For a chance to warm up with some seasonal food and drink, Burghley’s ever-popular Orangery Restaurant - housed in a building that provided space for the family’s love of horticulture and designed by Capability Brown – is now open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am until 4pm, until 21 December.

As well as the autumn and festive menus, a Christmas Afternoon Tea (available 19 November - 21 December) features turkey and cranberry or Stilton and red onion marmalade sandwiches, cranberry and white chocolate blondie and dark chocolate yule log.

For a spot of retail therapy, Burghley's Courtyard Shop is also open while extra seasonal shopping will again be available at the special Christmas Shop in the Brewhouse offering a selection of decorations, festive lighting, winter fragrances, chocolates and cosy winter accessories. Both shops open Wednesday through Sunday, 10am to 4pm, until 21 December.

While the house may be closed for winter, Burghley's parkland, with its resident herd of deer, remains open with free entry right through the year - perfect for winter walks or a chance to blow away the Christmas cobwebs.

For full details, opening times and to book tickets, see

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Kirstie Allsopp starts the festive season in style at Living Crafts for Christmas, Blenheim Palace

Kirstie Allsopp to film at Living Crafts
Queen of all things handmade Kirstie Allsopp will be spoilt for choice when she films at Living Crafts for Christmas on 21 November. This event is a unique Christmas shopping experience with so many contemporary crafters, jewellers, ceramicists, milliners, artists and toymakers who travel from across the UK to Blenheim Palace. Over 150 specially selected designer-makers will be showcasing British handmade art and craft in floored and heated pavilions and the Orangery, and the Campaign Rooms will feature a Jewellery Quarter.

Kirstie Allsopp to film at Living Crafts
This four day craft extravaganza is the perfect place to find presents for all the family from special commissions and original gifts to quirky stocking fillers.  The pavilions will be brimming with high quality art, craft and Christmas cheer and remember to enjoy the Christmas entertainment, roasting hot chestnuts, mulled cider or steaming hot chocolate. Be inspired by the handcrafted decorations, wreaths, candles and garlands, perfect for decorating your festive home. Specialist food and drink producers in ‘Tastes of Christmas’ will tempt you with traditional treats and perfect foodie gifts: everything from handmade chocolates, wines, connoisseur preserves, oils and marinades to Christmas cakes and puddings. Blenheim Palace will be dressed for the season with sumptuous gold and glitter. The Great Court will be adorned with twinkling Christmas trees, creating a magical ambience, while the beautiful parkland, lakeside walks and formal gardens are majestic in the winter light, just waiting to be explored. A feast of winter warming food is available in the Water Terrace CafĂ© and the Oxfordshire Pantry, featuring local produce, and don’t forget to drop into the Champagne Bar!

This is a perfect pre-Christmas day out for all the family.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole with Alice at Chatsworth this Christmas 8 November 2014 - 4 January 2015

Visitors to Chatsworth this Christmas should prepare to head down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass as this year’s Christmas theme takes inspiration from the vivid and fantastical world created by author Lewis Carroll in his classic ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland’, from 8 November to 4 January. 
Chatsworth Christmas

Chatsworth Christmas

Chatsworth Christmas

Fifty-two Christmas trees and 900,000 fairy lights will ensure Chatsworth dazzles with lots of traditional Christmas sparkle. Inside the house, 18 fir trees will be adorned with 6,000 tree ornaments. Preparations for this year's Christmas started almost a year ago, with the staff at Chatsworth creating most of the wonderful displays and costumes in-house. 

Head housekeeper Christine Robinson said: "Teams from the textiles department, carpenters, painters and housekeepers have been working all year to create the individual displays to bring the theme to life. This year, we have a giant rabbit's burrow for the White Rabbit, costumes for visitors to try on and a magical hall of mirrors as visitors journey with Alice through her dream of a Chatsworth wonderland."

Chatsworth is extending its Christmas opening period this year and re-opening the house, garden and farmyard after Christmas for visitors to enjoy over the remaining school holiday period. The house will be closed on Dec 24, 25 and 26, and re-open on Dec 27 until 31 December, and from 2 to 4 January 2015. 

Chatsworth will be expecting grins as wide as a Cheshire Cat as visitors are taken on a magical journey through the lower floors of the house.  The interiors are transformed to recreate classic scenes from the enduringly popular story of a girl named Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar creatures such as the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, a sleepy Dormouse and the Queen of Hearts.

On arrival, the North Entrance Hall will be dressed to create the illusion of tumbling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, where visitors will encounter the Mad Hatter's Tea Party; the Game of Croquet, and the table with the infamous ‘Drink Me’ bottle and ‘Eat Me’ cake. 

Playing Card Soldiers, White Rabbits, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee costumed guides will be on hand to direct visitors through to majestic woodland scene. There, a giant Caterpillar will be smoking his pipe on top of an oversized mushroom as psychedelic sitar music plays. 

Classic lines from the book are on show en route while sounds include the White Rabbit muttering 'I'm late, I'm late' or Alice crying out 'Curiouser and Curiouser' add to the feeling of entering the disorientating story. 

Always popular with children - and grown-ups too - is the opportunity to get into character themselves by dressing up in some of the Alice in Wonderland themed costumes, made by the Chatsworth Textiles team, in the Inner Court Marquee.

The Painted Hall is the perfect setting for the extravagant Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The huge dining room table will be adorned with dozens of tea cups, saucers, cake stands, and even an over-sized steaming teapot. 

The displays will also feature traditional Christmas elements, with numerous fir trees and Christmas garlands adorned with baubles and fairy lights. 

This year’s theme extends to farmyard and adventure playground with Alice in Wonderland themed craft activities in the Christmas marquee where little ones can make a mad hat, white rabbit ears, teapot card or a traditional reindeer headband. Magician Professor Shell will be making rabbits disappear while the popular nativities featuring the farmyard animals and young visitors take place on weekends in December. This is offered on a first come first served basis and will incur an additional £2.50. 

Other Christmas at Chatsworth events to look out for include C.W.Sellors* Christmas Wishes on 8-9 November, register online at, the popular Christmas Markets from November 13 to 23, and Wreath Making on December 3-4 2014.For information on opening times, advance tickets, prices and other events, please visit 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wallace And Gromit Anti-Pesto Van Is The Latest Star To Join Beaulieu’s On Screen Cars Exhibition

Wallace & Gromit Anti-Pesto Van,
Beaulieu's On Screen Cars
The Wallace and Gromit Anti-Pesto Van is the latest exhibit to arrive in Beaulieu’s On Screen Cars display. A plasticine version of this Austin A35 van was created for the film Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Nick Park, creator of the Wallace and Gromit animations, used to own an A35 and thought it was the ideal model to use in the film because “the van needed to be big enough to transport Wallace’s invention, the Bunvac 2000, while slick enough to go on high-speed chases.”

In the film, Tottington Hall’s Giant Vegetable Competition is fast approaching and Wallace and Gromit are running a vegetable security and humane pest control business, Anti-Pesto. In order to cope with the increasing amount of captured rabbits Wallace invents a brainwashing machine, but a mistake during the operation creates a ‘Were-Rabbit’, a giant rabbit which eats vegetables of any size. It’s down to Wallace and Gromit to capture the rampaging beast before the competition!

The Anti-Pesto Van, which has been loaned to Beaulieu following a call-out for new vehicles for the exhibition, joins a host of other star vehicles.

The ‘flying’ Ford Anglia on display was used during the making of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In the film, the enchanted flying car is stolen a number of times by Ron Weasley, on one occasion to rescue his friend Harry Potter from the Dursleys’ house, and on another to return to Hogwarts after the gate to Platform 9¾ is sealed by house elf Dobby.

Sharing the spotlight with the Anglia is TV favourite, Mr Bean’s lime green mini. This particular car was used in the character's third series and made its first television appearance on 1st January 1991.

Another TV favourite on display is Del Boy’s beloved Trotter Van. Possibly the nation's most famous three-wheel vehicle, this Regal van featured in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the sole transport for the Trotter family of Del, Rodney, Grandad and Uncle Albert, until Del Boy later went ‘upmarket’ and purchased a Capri Ghia.

On Screen Cars can be seen as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction, which also includes the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Abbey, and Palace House and gardens. Visit for further information.

Exclusive Dining at Burghley House – Feel like Royalty as you dine in the exclusive surroundgs of Burghley House

Burghley House Great Hall
Burghley has been entertaining guests throughout its history and today provides a wonderful backdrop for a variety of events.

The Great Hall, with its stunning Tudor fireplace was once used by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who dined here during their stay in 1844.

This beautiful room can accommodate up to 100 people seated on rounds or the Victorian banquet table (the very same table used by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) which seats up to 42 people which provides an unparalleled historic grandeur for those looking to hold a quintessentially English dining experience within one of the country’s finest Elizabethan homes.

For Private or Corporate Dining Enquiries please contact Event Manager Kara Lockyer to discuss your event requirements on 01780 761 992 or

Monday, 3 November 2014

Victorian Christmas Celebrations At Beaulieu - 20th December 2014 – 4th January 2015

Giant Christmas Tree
Visit Beaulieu this Festive Season, between 20th December and 4th January 2015, for a glimpse of Christmas Past in a Victorian country house.

See one of the largest outdoor Christmas trees in the New Forest, adorned with seasonal decorations and follow the fairy light path to Palace House, the home of the Montagu family since 1538, which is a place of enchantment at this special time of year.  Children can follow the Christmas Cracker quiz trail and hear how festive traditions have developed over the ages before delving into a  ‘Box of Delights’ to dress up in period costume. In the Lower Drawing Room there will be carol singing and musical entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

Visitors can talk to characters from Victorian times to discover what life was really like ‘Upstairs and Downstairs’ at Christmas time and warm themselves in front of the yule log in the hearth of the great fireplace while enjoying a glass of hot fruit punch. The splendid Victorian-style decorations around the house and the magnificent Christmas tree in the Upper Drawing Room will add to the flavour and charm of the season.

Palace House Staff at Christmas
In the National Motor Museum, the Victorian theme continues as visitors can see what driving was really like in those early days. Don’t miss ‘Wheels’, a pod-ride transporting you on a journey through one hundred years of motoring history.

In the World of Top Gear Enormodrome watch exclusive footage as the presenters take you behind the scenes in the Top Gear production zone, enjoy clips from some of the best Top Gear moments and see actual cars from some of the presenters’ most ambitious challenges.

To complete the day, take a ride on the high-level Monorail or hop on the Veteran London Bus to see the Beaulieu sights.

For shopping delights visit the Beaulieu gift shops which offer everything from soft toys and stocking fillers for children, to a wide selection of motor related items, traditional gifts and festive fare.  There is free parking and free entry to the extensive Gift Shop which is conveniently located in the Visitor Reception Hall.

The Beaulieu attraction is open from 10am to 5pm daily, except Christmas Day. For further information visit: