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 www.cwsellors.com, 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 www.chatsworth.org