A visit to Castle Howard is a fairly new addition to our family festivities but has fast become a non-negotiable for all of us. While our visits to Castle Howard usually revolve around running about in the fresh air, walking through the woods and playing in the adventure playground, at this time of year it’s all about the house. This year’s theme is The Twelve Days of Christmas, and we couldn’t wait to see it. Okay, so (Christmas) cards on the table: this is not the cheapest family day out, so it needs to be good. And, to our relief, it’s as good as a child trying to win Santa over with impeccable behaviour on Christmas Eve. Better, even.
We walked down the Christmas-tree lined route to the house, where we collected a trail each for the children. They had to spot each of the birds in the pictures: a failsafe way to keep them engaged throughout the visit. Although they enjoyed doing it (and got fairly competitive about it), they really didn’t need it because they were so mesmerised by each of the rooms. Every room has been gloriously decorated by a team of top designers to reflect the theme: think Lords leaping along the Long Gallery, swans swimming across a mirrored table and, of course, a partridge in a real pear tree. It’s absolutely stunning and filled us with Christmas cheer. We won’t spoil it for you – the joy is in not knowing what’s around the corner – but here are some of our highlights, including the epic Howard family Christmas tree, complete with over 3000 beautiful baubles.
Once we’d made our way around the house, it was lunchtime. As it wasn’t exactly picnic weather, we stayed warm and made the most of the food and drink on offer (sandwiches and sausage rolls for the kids, soup for the grown-ups and maybe even a festive scone or two – another non-negotiable). After a stroll to walk it all off, we stocked up on some Christmas treats and a gift or two in the courtyard. The children chose a tree decoration, too, in the hope that our family tree could look as pretty as the Castle Howard one. Even Father Christmas might struggle to make that particular dream come true. We all agreed that The Twelve Days of Christmas is the best we’ve seen Castle Howard at Christmas. It really is a place like no other, especially at this time of year.
The Twelve Days of Christmas at Castle Howard runs until 31st December 2018. Visit the Castle Howard website for more details.