13 country houses to visit this festive season

Britain's country houses can be a sight to behold during the festive season with sparkling lights and traditional decorations decking the halls of these spectacular buildings. Here's our pick of country houses to visit to get you in the mood for Christmas...

Wooden solider dummy before the House of Opera Budapest

1. Chirk Castle, Llangollen

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Medieval Castle Christmas

The castle courtyard will be transported back in time for a Medieval Christmas with all the trimmings. Have a go at some festive handicrafts while you take in the decorations, and children can come and meet Father Christmas in his grotto.

Father Christmas grotto tickets are £5 per child including a present, plus normal admission charges.

Chirk, Wrexham, LL14 5AF

2. Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Christmas at Chatsworth

Inspired by The Nutcracker, the traditional Christmas decorations here at Chatsworth are a breathtaking sight for young and old alike.

Normal admission applies. Opening hours 11 – 5.30 (last entry 4.30).

Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1PP

3. Mottisfont, Hampshire

The Twelve Days of Christmas

This year Mottisfont has been decorated to follow the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ on a family activity trail. Make your own ‘Lords-a-leaping’, play with pipes and watch the ‘Seven-swans-a-swimming’ on this festive day out. 

National Trust – normal admission charges apply.

Mottisfont, near Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 0LP

4. Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire

Winter Festival

The impressive mansion and gardens at Wimpole have been expertly decorated for the festive season, as has the farm. For those who like to get their hands covered in glitter there are decoration and gift making workshops, or you can just enjoy a stroll in the surrounding parkland and warm up afterwards at the hot chocolate bar.

National Trust – normal admission charges apply. Some pre-booked festive workshops cost extra – see website.

Arrington, Royston, Cambridgeshire, SG8 0BW

5. Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Christmas at the Castle

Various dates throughout the season – please see website for details.

Join us for a Wassail cup, tales of Christmas past & present and a visit to Father Christmas. Father Christmas will be visiting Bodiam for three weekends in  December to hand out presents, and there will also be storytelling about Christmas past and present. Alternatively you can take a swig from the Wassail cup and a mince pie. To book a visit to Father Christmas’ grotto, call 01580 831324.

For booking and pricing please see the website. 

Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UA

6. Belsay Hall, Northumberland

Christmas Choirs

3 – 4 December, performances at 12:30pm and 2:30pm. 

This year Belsay celebrates the festivities with carols from local choirs in the library, along with warming tearoom treats and a wintery tour of the stunning gardens. 

For a fun and festive afternoon, please see the website for pricing and further details. 

Belsay Hall, Belsay, Nr Morpeth, Northumberland, NE20 0DX

7. Castle Ward, County Down

Santa’s House

Selected dates throughout December.

Climb aboard the Santa Express which will take you to a secret  location where you will find Santa himself, ready to tell wonderful Christmas tales.

Booking is essential, for prices and available dates Call 028 4488 1204.

Castle Ward, Strangford, Downpatrick, BT30 7LS

8. Cotehele, Cornwall

At home with Mother and Father Christmas 

Come and meet everybody’s favorite Christmas couple. Attentive and chatty, this popular pair can often have a queue for an audience with them and they spend several minutes with each family.

When you’ve finished visiting Santa, you can go and see Cotehele’s famous winter garland, made from 36,160 dried flowers (until 31 December), before wandering around the famous food fair for some festive treats. 

For further details and pricing, please visit the website. 

St Domonick, Nr Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6TA

9. Killerton, Devon

The ‘Grimm’ Mansion 

This year Killerton House is celebrating Christmas like never before, and the house has been transformed with decorations inspired by five dark fairytales from Brothers Grimm.

Victorian Father Christmas

Various dates  and times from 3 December. 

For an authentic Victorian Christmas, a visit to Killerton is a must as this estate plays host to a Victorian Father Christmas – dressed in traditional green as in the Victorian era. He also has a gift for every child aged 8 or under.

Normal admission charges apply, plus £3 per child meeting Santa. Please see the website for more details. 

Killerton, Broadclyst, Exeter, Devon, EX5 3LE

10. Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

Enchanted Christmas Gardens

Feel festive this year at Brodsworth and take a tour of the stunning winter gardens transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Enjoy festive treats and music while strolling around the illuminated Christmas trails in Brodsworth’s biggest event of the year. There is also a chance to meet Father Christmas and enjoy a yuletide story or two. 

Booking is essential. For tickets and pricing, please see the website or call 0870 333 1183

Brodsworth, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN5 7XJ

  

11. Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

Father Christmas at Kedleston Hall

Visit Santa at Kedleston Hall for a day full of fun Christmas activities, amid crackling fires and traditional carols. There is also a signing santa each afternoon for families with limited hearing.

National Trust – normal admission charges apply.

Kedleston Hall, near Quarndon, Derby, Derbyshire DE22 5JH

12. Wallington, Northumberland

Santa at Wallington

Visit Santa in his Wallington grotto and receive a special Christmas present. Mrs Santa will be telling stories and the property is packed with Christmas activities ranging from carol singing to craft making. The house is on fine festive form with beautiful decorations enhancing the already stunning interiors which include a Pre-Raphaelite central hall and paintings by William Bell Scott.

If you fancy a more atmospheric meeting, Santa’s Grotto is also open for twilight visits. From 5 – 7:30pm. Please seeing the website for more details. 

Booking is essential, call 01670 773600. Normal admission charges apply. 

Wallington, Cambo, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 4AR

  

13. Castle Drogo, Devon

Father Christmas comes to Castle Drogo

Behind this castle’s imposing façade lies a comfortable family home which welcomes visitors this Christmas for festive frolics. A 1930s themed event, the castle will be traditionally decorated and children can meet Father Christmas in his grotto. To top the day off with some Christmas shopping, the weekend of the 10 & 11 December welcomes a Christmas food and craft fair of over 20 stalls selling homemade chutneys, woollen blankets and yuletide gifts. 

Normal admission charges apply, plus £2.50 per child visiting Santa.

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Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, near Exeter, Devon, EX6 6PB