Blenheim Palace Review

I’ve been waiting for so long to go back and review Blenheim Palace. We regularly visited for family days out a few years ago when we had annual passes, but stopped when Biggest Child got too old to be free. I’ve been waiting for Smallest Child to be old enough to appreciate it and she finally is!!!!

The majority of this review of Blenheim Palace was written before covid restrictions. There may be some changes in line with government guidance. Please see their website for the latest updates.

Blenheim Palace review | Family days out in Oxfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

Overview

Blenheim Palace is simply stunning and it’s a fantastic place for children. There is so much for them to do and with tickets valid for a year there will be plenty of opportunities to explore it all. Highlights include a butterfly house, maze, incredible playground area, parkland, miniature train, formal gardens, rose garden and even a waterfall.

Your visit can start in one of two places; either the pleasure gardens or the palace itself (which leads onto the formal gardens). If it is your first visit I’d recommend starting in the palace so you can convert your tickets to an annual pass (see note below regarding admission and how to get your pass).  They have lots of events going on throughout the year so keep an eye on their website.

2021 Blenheim Palace review update – currently there is a gate open at the side of the palace (to the left of the admission kiosk) which gives you direct access to the formal gardens. There is now also a gate open in the far left of the formal gardens which leads to the pleasure gardens. I hope this is permanent as it’s so much easier.

The Pleasure Gardens

This is the area your kids will love the most. You can get the miniature train that travels between the palace and pleasure gardens (50p for adults, under 5’s are free) or take the shortish walk. The train ride takes about 5 minutes and even includes a tunnel. They decorate this at Halloween to make it a ghost train which is really fun. If you do decide to walk then have a look at the numerous hollow Oak trees along the path. They’re really great fun. The centres are completely hollow but the trees are still alive. It’s a great place to do some bug hunting. You can also park by the pleasure gardens, but it can fill up pretty quickly and if you get there and there’s no spaces you cannot just turn around and go back to the main car park.

Maze at Blenheim Palace review | Family days out in Oxfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

Within the pleasure gardens you can find the maze, adventure playground, smaller playground area, giant games cafe, exhibition, a small model village and the butterfly house. The butterfly house has always been a favourite with my family, despite me not being the biggest fan of things flying at me. You can get so close to so a range of wonderful butterflies. Some of them are huge (have a look at the photo below and compare this one to a brick). It is really warm and humid in there, because that’s what butterflies like and it’s their house!

The seemingly never-ending adventure playground is one of the best I know. It’s very long and there’s a smaller section at one end with a sandpit and toddler frame. You can very easily lose the children in here for hours. They did some work to this at the end of 2020/early 2021 so I don’t know if this has changed at all.

Playground at Blenheim Palace review | Family days out in Oxfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

The maze is really good, and also really big, and surprisingly hard, and maybe still has some people lost inside it! I’d actually forgotten how hard it is. Unlike other mazes (like the one at Cliveden) it is possible to go wrong. If you do, then you’ll just go around in a very big circle but if you’ve been distracted by a grumpy toddler who wants to drink from the adult water bottle herself but isn’t old enough to do it and so spills allllllll the water everywhere you might not noticed you’ve gone round in a circle until you spot a familiar weed. Can you tell this is based on real events??

The Water Terrace

There isn’t a huge amount to say about the water terrace. It’s pretty and there’s water! You’ll find lots of beautiful statues all over the water gardens. There are steps all over the place so it’s not accessible by pushchair.

The formal gardens

These are also massive, with so many things to do. The size of the gardens is one of the may reasons you might end up needing that return visit. Scrub that, you’ll definitely need a return visit to explore all that Blenheim Palace has to offer. Make sure that you get a map so you don’t miss things like the waterfall or rose garden. It was in these gardens that Sir Winston Churchill proposed to his wife. There are various different parts to the garden; the water terrace, ginormous lawn, rose garden and the waterfall. There is so much space to explore and let the children have fun in.

Around the formal gardens there are lots of great trees that are excellent for climbing or playing hide and seek. There’s more hollow oaks (and their accompanying fairy doors) and the secret garden is incredible in autumn.

Hidden at the back of the formal gardens you’ll find the cascades. When the weather has been very wet this are very impressive! It’s also a great place for playing pooh sticks on the bridge.

Cascades | Family friendly days out and walks in Oxfordshire | Free Time with the Kids

Blenheim Palace itself

This is less child friendly and I only went in by myself the first time. I’ve actually been back with Smallest Child (3 1/2) and she was fine. There’s plenty of stuff to distract them whilst you look around properly. It is fascinating and the dining room table has to be seen to be believed. Make sure that you join one of the guided tours to get the most out of it. You can see the room where Winston Churchill was born, visit the state rooms and learn more about the history of the house and how it was built.

Blenheim Palace review | Family days out in Oxfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

Blenheim Palace review update 2021. Due to covid restrictions they’ve currently got some changes compared to how it was during my first visit. The room where Winston Churchill was born (and some other rooms) is currently closed. You have to pre-book your timeslot for the palace as well as the grounds. There’s a one-way system in place. Disappointingly the massive dining room table has been removed and there’s a much smaller one in place. I mean, small by their standards. It would pretty much fill my dining room!

The palace is full of all the things that you’d expect of a place like this. Stunning furniture, amazing artwork, intricate ceilings etc. They often have guest artists displaying their work here as well so you’ll see a mix of old and new.

My favourite part of the entire palace has to be the library. Oh to have a library like this! It’s just on another scale really. There’s also a massive -storey organ at the end of the library. Because everyone has one of those tucked in the corner!

The stables exhibition

This is a brand new exhibition for 2021 and it’s brilliant for both kids and adults alike. It might even be better for the kids than it is for adults. The stables here at Blenheim were MASSIVE (nothing like marrying into money to fund impressive building projects). You start off in the tack room and then move through the stables themselves. There’s some fantastic features in here. You’ll find a miniature horse to practice sitting side saddle (turns out Smallest Child isn’t great at sitting in a lady-like manner), a carriage to sit in, a horse race that you control so you can race your family.

The stables exhibition at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock | Review by Free Time with the Kids

Further into the exhibition there’s some interactive installations. There’s a talking oak tree (which terrified Smallest Child), talking hats, a massive shire horse and a bird-hide which lets you view all the wildlife you can find on the estate. It’s really cool.

The stables exhibition at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock | Review by Free Time with the Kids

The Park

Within the park there are two lakes, a monument and numerous walks. Some parts of the park at Blenheim Palace are actually accessible on public footpaths, and so are free to visit. It’s a lovely place to explore with the kids. There’s an area where you can get really close to the ducks to fee them, and you might spot a few sheep around the park. Near the bridge you can see the tree that was used in the Harry Potter movie when Snape was being bullied by James Potter.

Family friendly days out in Oxfordshire | Free Time with the Kids

Blenheim Palace throughout the seasons

There is no bad time to visit Blenheim Palace. In the spring it’s awash with daffodils. During the summer the gardens are stunning. In the autumn Blenheim Palace has a brilliant Halloween display and is ablaze with autumn colours. Blenheim Palace at Christmas is legendary! I’ve not been that that yet, but I’m hoping to go this year.

Spring at Blenheim Palace review | Family days out in Oxfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids
Halloween at Blenheim Palace review | Family days out in Oxfordshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

Social Distancing Information

As I mentioned this review of Blenheim Palace has been updated whilst social distancing measures are in place. You now must pre-book tickets, including annual pass holders, and you have a 30 minute slot to arrive. They are significantly reducing the number of people who are allowed on site. Some places may be closed due to government guidance. They seen to change the entrance pretty much every time I visit so just follow whatever the guides tell you to do!


Admission Cost

Adult (£28.50), Child (Age 5-16) £16.50, FREE for under 5s, Family (2 Adults and 2 Children) £69
Tickets are valid for a full year but **IMPORTANT INFORMATION** In order to get the annual pass you MUST 1) by a gift aid palace and grounds ticket. If you buy one of the cheaper tickets you won’t be able to exchange it 2) you must upgrade to the annual pass either at the kiosk in the courtyard on the day or online within 14 days. Again, if you don’t do this you cannot take advantage of the upgrade. Prices correct as of Mar 2021

Blenheim Palace Review updated – your annual pass now allows you free admission to the Soldiers of Oxfordshire museum which is just around the corner in Woodstock. I’m not sure if this is a permanent or temporary measure though to best to check on their website.


Parking / How to get here

Parking – plenty on site, free.

Address – Woodstock, Oxfordshire. OX20 1PP. I have always found it really annoying but as you come into Woodstock there is a brown sign for Blenheim Palace that has a straight ahead arrow but the entrance to the car park is a matter of meters away. I found it really confusing when I first visited.


Toilets

In the main palace area and the pleasure gardens. I have always found these to be in an excellent condition. Whenever they put on special events they always have extra loos, including adapted changing facilities.


Food

Various cafes and restaurants and kiosks dotted around. There’s a pizza restaurant in the pleasure gardens how. They’re all made to order and not excessively expensive. Kids boxes are £4.95 though. There are lots of places to have a picnic, in fact it’s one of my favourite places in Oxfordshire for a picnic.


Our Blenheim Palace Review

I really like Blenheim Palace. There is so much to do, and so much space to do it in. The children absolutely love visiting here (as do I) and even though we’ve been here many, many times the kids still enjoy going. The fact you can upgrade your ticket to an annual pass for free, and that under 5’s go free makes it excellent value. We are regular visitors to Blenheim Palace and will keep this review regularly updated.

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch contact@freetimewiththekids.com or get in touch via Facebook

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