I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year – Charles Dickens.
It seems like ages ago since Warren and I visited Blenheim Palace one Thursday evening to have a wander around the castle and grounds full of magic and wonder. It was the perfect festive pick-me-up; previous to that evening, I hadn’t felt a single ounce of festive spirit. Not one. Normally, I’ve started my Christmas shopping in the height of summer and have everyone nearly ticked off my list. This year, everything Christmassy went straight to the bottom of the pile, until the night we got to experience The Illuminated Light Trail and go down the rabbit hole to find Alice in the Palace.
I had never been to Blenheim Palace before and it has been on my Cotswold to do list since I met Warren last year. I adore castles, palaces and manor houses: the history and the fascination that they all hold, from the architecture to the stories that make them special. Blenheim is no different and, although I went purely for Christmas Wonderland, it is a place of beauty and somewhere that I definitely want to explore again.
As we walked through the magnificent archways to the castle courtyard, it already had that festive ambience. Full of carousels, fairground rides and food trailers covered in fairy lights, it was hard to decide which way to turn first. Before anything, we wandered through the court to another huge archway which took us to a plaza sized courtyard. The palace was illuminated with glittering Christmas trees to the left of us and to the right was an abundance of markets surrounded by sparkling Christmas lights. However, our mission was to find Alice as we arrived a little later than the rest of the press attendees, due to being in work. Me being me got distracted by all the pretty lights and then wanted to get everything on camera which delayed us a little bit more. Eventually, we found the right spot to enter the festive Wonderland and I cannot express how indulgent and magical the palace was.
First, we wandered down the hallway towards the mirage of Alice who had just shrunk from her potion. We passed carnival mirrors and people dressed in mad hats who pointed us in the right direction. Once in Wonderland, we had to find the white rabbit in each room. In some, he was in plain sight – as though the room itself belonged to him; in others, he hid beneath a tree or was placed upon a chair in the back of the room. There was so much to see in every room that you could have easily missed him among the decorations, the trees, the fantastical elements of the original Alice in Wonderland story. Chapters included the Caterpillar, the Queen of Hearts, the Flamingo Croquet and finally the biggest banquet table your eyes ever dared to desire: that of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Illustrious cakes and tea pots were spread over a beautiful cloth, surrounded by chairs and rose bushes that were half painted red. The colours and the lights were stunning and I’m pretty sure I’ll be dreaming of that table for my future wedding or party of some sort, whichever comes first.
After we had successfully found Alice, I placed a wish on the wishing tree; a beautiful creature inside the chapel of Blenheim Palace that had wishes from children and adults alike; one had even written, “I wish everyone’s wishes came true.” How lovely is that! And then, it was time for the enchanting lights of the Illuminated Light Trail.
I have never seen lights like them. It was a maze of lights, twinkling in various colours, dancing to songs from Fantasia and glistening in their own little world, making ours that much more beautiful. It took a good hour to wander through, witnessing the colours and magic that Blenheim Palace grounds had to offer. I couldn’t believe the amount of lights there were, full of charm and almost alive. It was a fascinating experience, one that I highly recommend everyone to witness at least once. Nevertheless, the price for the combined occasion is very steep and only to be booked if you have the money spare or have saved for such an occasion. I, personally, wouldn’t be able to fork out £40.50 for one ticket (plus car parking) especially at this time of the year. Nevertheless, if you have a family of four, it works out far less at £28.00 which is incredible for young families to experience Christmas at Blenheim Palace! For children under five years of age and carers, it is completely free.
I would love to visit next year and hope I can. I wonder which fairytale will be appearing at Blenheim Palace at Christmas 2020.
Have you visited? Which was your favourite part of the magic?
Love, Faye xo