Christmas is a VERY big deal at Waddesdon Manor. They’ve now even won the award for Best Christmas Experience! If you living within driving distance I highly recommend that you visit. Now the Christmas events at Waddesdon Manor have started the house tickets are few and far between. You might find a few if you’re lucky.
My review of the Christmas decorations inside Waddesdon Manor is below. Part two will be the the illuminated trail and I’ll be posting that soon. In the mean time have a look at the post from last year by clicking this link.
Inside the House at Waddesdon Manor at Christmas
This year the theme of the house is the music of Christmas. The decorations in each room of Waddesdon Manor are based on a specific Christmas song. As always the trees are massive, the decorations are beautiful and they’re plentiful. They are also incredibly detailed. There’s less rooms decorated downstairs than normal though, I’m not sure why. To make up for that there is a MASSIVE camel, obviously!!
As always there is a free Christmas trail in the house. This time it’s the Ornithological Orchestra. You have to spot the salt dough plaques hidden in each room to identify the instrument. There’s a sticker sheet and you then match each instrument with its owner. It’s a bit of a step up from last year and Smallest Child particularly enjoyed sticking the stickers to my face! I’m fairly sure most kids would enjoy spotting the plaques and following the trail properly though.
It really doesn’t take that long to go through the house at Christmas because only a few rooms are open. It is very busy however, especially at the weekends. The trees are very impressive and they clearly put a lot of effort into getting them just right. That said, I am glad that we’re National Trust members so that it only costs £5 per adult. Pre-booked tickets for the house are required (including for members). Pretty much all the tickets have been sold by now, but you might be able to buy a few in person on the day.
If you cannot get tickets to the house don’t despair. There is so much going on in the gardens and grounds.
Light in Motion Review
This is a light installation in the coach house. Entrance is included with garden admission. It’s a short show of moving light orbs set to much that repeats every few minutes or so. We thought it was really good. The fact the show is set to a version of one of my favourite Christmas carols made it particularly special. Because it’s in the coach house there isn’t a huge amount of room in there. When we visited there were only about 10 people in the room so I think we were quite lucky. I assume they’ll limit the number of people in there at any one time but I do wonder if it will be less impressive when it’s full though? Definitely make sure you pop in to see it though.
The Christmas Market Review
The amazing Christmas market runs from 11am – 6pm 16th November until 22nd December. The stalls may vary across the month so it’s worth popping back. Entry included with house or garden tickets. Stalls typically include clothes, crafts, beauty products, cheeses, meats, jams & preserves, hot and cold food & drinks and lots of ideas for Christmas presents. Most of them take cards as well as cash, but the wi-fi signal can be a bit temperamental.
There seem to be certain stalls that return year after year. Personal favourites are the preserves at Carved Angel and the burgers at Kerbside Kitchen. A new discovery this year was the skittles fudge at iCandy. O. M. G. I always buy at least a few presents each year (but no photos of those so I don’t spoil the surprise.
The illuminated trail at Waddesdon Manor review
Winter light is the name of the illuminated trail that goes around the Aviary. It starts near the fern walk at the fountain end of the lawn. If you’re not sure where that is don’t worry there’s a MASSIVE sign saying Winter Light to guide you. The trail follows basically the same path that it has done in previous years but slightly shorter. There’s nothing near the Aviary lawn itself this time. Everywhere is roped off so you don’t go wrong.
By and large the trail consists of trees lit up in various colours. There’s a couple of installations along the way (a weird web thing for example) but there’s noticeably less big installations than I can remember from any previous years. It’s all about quantity of lights rather than artistic lights really.
There are three big installations on the trail; a circle of lights, a shooter (push the buttons and coloured smoke comes out of chimneys) and a display of glowing orbs set to music on Daffodil Hill. There’s also a display of lit up trees that is set to music.
The whole trail is very pretty and all the children loved it. If I’m being honest however the trail really wasn’t as good as it has been in previous years and I was but disappointed. I’m thinking in comparison to previous years; the massive of glass bulbs, the field of moons, light tunnels and the glow in the dark washing lines. Even the slightly weird but cooI tent thingy. I know that Light in Motin and the giant baubals in the stables but I’m not sure that actually makes up for it. I’d love to hear what you think.
The illuminated Christmas trail at Waddesdon Manor runs from dusk until 6pm (included with admission, dogs welcome).
Other Christmas Events at Waddesdon Manor in 2019
The house itself is light up to music from dusk each day, and this year there are TWO shows. Here’s a snippet from last year. In 2018 there was an additional, more dramatic, display against the wall of the stables but I’m not sure if that’s happening again this year. In 2017 the show was against the main house and it was fantastic. I hope that’s what they’re doing this year. There will also be two giant LED baubles in the stables for a truly festive photo opportunity.
Waddesdon Manor are doing another Christmas illuminated woodland trail in 2019. This year it will be carol themed and will help raise money for local schools. This will be on Miss Alice’s Drive and is included with admission.
Food and drink at Waddesdon Manor at Christmas
Whilst food and drink has never been a problem at Waddesdon Manor (there are several different places dotted all around), it’s positively full of treats at Christmas! The winter wigwam is back for 2019 near the summer house. There’s more formal Christmas dining in the manor restaurant, including their lovely afternoon tea. We did the children’s afternoon tea a couple of years ago and it was really good. There is also the stables cafe, a coffee cart and the Treaterie.
Don’t forget allllllll the food and drink stalls in the Christmas market. There’s also the really good Kurbside Kitchen good burger hut, lots of mulled wine and plenty more. You definitely won’t go hungry!
Sat 16 Nov 2019 – Sun 5 Jan 2020, Wed-Sun
Open: Mon 30 & Tue 31 Dec
Closed: Mon 23 – Thurs 26 Dec
Grounds: 11am-6pm. House: 11.30am-6pm, last entry 5.30pm.
Ground tickets only (including the Christmas market)
£11 Adult, £5.50 Child, £27.50 Family (up to 2 adults + 3 children). National Trust members: Free.
***UPDATED ADVICE RE GROUNDS ONLY TICKETS, INCLUDING FOR MEMBERS*** Due to massive issues with mud in the overflow car parks Waddesdon Manor have had to seriously limit the amount of people visiting. At weekends people will only be admitted to site if you have a pre-booked ticket – this includes grounds only admission and NT members. Once the school holidays are underway this may be extended to cover weekdays too. Make sure you pre-book if you’re planning on visiting this year.
House tickets – pre-booking is strongly recommended. You’ve previously been able to buy a few tickets on the door but these tend to see out within minutes of opening. I’m not sure if they’ll be offering this again in 2019
Wed-Fri: £26 Adult, £14 Child, £66 Family (up to 2 adults + 3 children)
National Trust: £5 Adult, £2.50 Child, £12.50 Family (up to 2 adults + 3 children)
Sat-Sun: £28.50 Adult, £15.25 Child, £72.25 Family (up to 2 adults + 3 children)
National Trust: £7.50 Adult, £3.75 Child, £18.75 Family (up to 2 adults + 3 children)
Note on parking – there are different parking, entrance and exit arrangements at peak times. The overflow car parks are VERY muddy and people have needed to be towed out of the mud. Make sure you wear wellies, particularly if it’s been raining.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook