If you’re looking for a festive day out that’s a bit different, why not visit Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury? Christmas at Waddesdon Manor features beautiful illuminations and plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

This year, Christmas at Waddesdon celebrates its 20th year! It’s also the first time that the manor has opened for Christmas since 2019.

Christmas at Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor is the perfect location during the festive season. You can walk along an illuminated trail, go Christmas shopping, or take a look at the stunning displays inside the manor. And of course, there’s always time for a cup of hot chocolate and a mince pie in the Manor Restaurant!

The History of Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor is a French Renaissance-style château located in the village of Waddesdon, in Buckinghamshire, England. The manor house was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the 1870s to house his art collection.

Baron Ferdinand’s sister, Alice, who lived at the manor from 1883 until her death in 1922, was a passionate gardener and an avid collector of art. Alice established a set of guidelines for the preservation of the manor’s art and decorative furnishings: Miss Alice’s Rules. The National Trust subsequently based its conservation practices on these recommendations.

Waddesdon was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957. The Rothschild family runs Waddesdon on behalf of the National Trust via the Rothschild Foundation under the chairmanship of Lord Rothschild.

Today, Waddesdon Manor is one of the most visited National Trust properties. More than 463,000 visitors enjoyed the house and gardens in 2019.

The illuminated facade at Waddesdon Manor
The illuminated facade at Waddesdon Manor

Christmas In The House

At Christmas time, the manor is decorated with a variety of festive displays that are sure to delight any visitor. While some of the rooms are closed for redecoration, this year, there’s a new route that takes you through the Red Drawing Room, Dining Room and Conservatory. They are all transformed for the first time at Christmas.

One of the highlights is the peacock sculpture created by paper artist Andy Singleton in the Dining Room. Visitors can also enjoy a host of other decorations, including several magnificent Christmas trees – one of which is decorated with paintbrushes and feather dusters.

Famous portraits by Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds are another must-see, while Porca Miseria is a contemporary chandelier by Ingo Maurer, made from broken ceramics.

Christmas in the House runs until 2 January.

The spectacular Waddesdon Dining Room
The spectacular Waddesdon Dining Room – photo: Hugh Mothersole

Waddesdon Manor Winter Light Trail

Visitors can also wander the grounds, taking in the longest-ever illuminated light trail. These outdoor displays have been specially arranged to reflect the beauty of the manor house and its gardens.

This enchanting light display is guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit! There are beautiful butterfly lights, a tunnel of glittering stars and colour changing dancing lights projected onto the trees. Step on the illuminated keyboard to play a fun tune.

The Winter Light Trail runs from 12 November 2022 to 2 January 2023 and then from 6 January to 22 January from Friday to Sunday.

Winter Light Trail at Waddesdon Manor
Winter Light Trail at Waddesdon Manor – photo: Chris Lacey

Immersed in Light Exhibition at The Coach House Gallery

Walk along Miss Alice’s Drive to see the Immersed in Light Exhibition. During the festive period, the path to The Coach House Gallery and The Stables is lit by a series of lanterns decorated by local schools. It goes downhill and might be challenging for those with mobility issues.

At The Stables, visitors can enjoy fish and ships, visit the Christmas Shop and a family friendly light exhibition which is a striking display of different light and sound forms. The 22 foot high Christmas tree has more than 10,000 colour-changing pixels.

The Stables Christmas tree
The Stables Christmas tree

Waddesdon Manor Christmas Fair

There are more than 70 wooden chalets currently located in the grounds of the manor. These hand-selected stalls are decorated with over 1,000 meters of fairy lights.

The Christmas Fair features a wide selection of festive treats from hot drinks and snacks to stylish gifts such as faux fur hats and gloves. If you happen to visit when the chateau itself is closed, you can still browse Waddesdon Rothschild Collection wines and other foodie gifts at their own stall – it’s the closest one to the castle on the left-hand side.

In the background, you can enjoy the sight of the castle lit up with a colour changing display, while festive tunes play.

Waddesdon Manor Christmas Fair runs until 18 December.

Christmas Fair at Waddesdon Manor
Christmas Fair at Waddesdon Manor – photo: Chris Lacey

Waddesdon Manor Gift Shops

In the mood for some last-minute Christmas shopping? Or perhaps you’re looking for unique gifts for a birthday or other special occasion? Either way, a visit to the gift and wine shop in the Manor is sure to be a memorable experience.

The hand-selected items range from delicate jewelry to artisanal food products. And if you’re looking for something truly special, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Rothschild wine.

There are also limited edition gins, honey, beer, chocolate, chutneys, jams and chilli oils made exclusively for Waddesdon. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, the gift shop is sure to have something to suit your needs.

Waddesdon Manor wines
Waddesdon Manor wines

Christmas at Waddesdon Manor – Food Options

The Food Village is a great new place to enjoy some traditional festive foods until 2 January. Choose from a fantastic selection of takeaway food and drink such as hot chocolate, mince pies, Christmas pudding and much more.

The Manor Restaurant is also open for pre-booked festive afternoon teas, or mince pies and coffee made in house by Waddesdon’s chefs.

The Stables Café is the place to go for fish and chips and seasonal pies. Children’s versions of the menu are available.

Afternoon Tea at Waddesdon Manor Restaurant
Afternoon Tea at Waddesdon Manor Restaurant – photo: Chris Lacey

How to get to Waddesdon Manor

Aylesbury Vale Parkway is the closest train station to Waddesdon Manor, located just over 2 miles away. To reach the station, take the Aylesbury Line from London Marylebone which takes around 50 minutes.

Once you arrive at Aylesbury Vale Parkway, there is a shuttle bus for visitors to the manor. All-day shuttle bus tickets cost £2.50 adult and £1.50 child (Blue badge holders and their carers ride free). The last bus returns to the visitor car park between 7.30-8pm.

Alternatively, it’s a short 10-15 minute taxi ride to Waddesdon Manor. The postcode for Waddesdon Manor is HP18 0JH.

If you’re driving, there is plenty of free parking available on site. There is also a bike shelter, in case you wish to cycle to the manor.

Christmas at Waddesdon Manor Tickets

All profits from ticket sales go towards the upkeep of Waddesdon, a Rothschild House and Gardens. Advance booking is essential in order to avoid disappointment.

Christmas at Waddesdon takes place from 12 noon to 7 pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Choose your date carefully as tickets cannot be exchanged or refunded. If there is snow or icy conditions that make pathways potentially unsafe, a decision on whether the manor will be closed for the day will be made early in the morning.

Christmas at Waddesdon Manor Ticket Prices

Off-Peak: Wednesday to Friday, 16 November – 9 December

House & Grounds
• £32.70 Adult, £16.35 Child,
• National Trust: £7.50 Adult, £3.75 Child

Grounds only
• £18.20 Adult, £9.10 Child,
• National Trust: £5 Adult, £2.50 Child

Peak: Saturday to Sunday, 12 November – 11 December then Wednesday to Sunday, 14 December to 2 January

House & Grounds
• £35.20 Adult, £17.60 Child,
• National Trust members: £10 Adult, £5 Child

Grounds only
• £20.70 Adult, £10.35 Child,
• National Trust members: £7.50 Adult, £3.75 Child

Under-5s: Free

Accompanying carers: Free

National Trust, Art Pass, Historic House, Art Fund and RHS Grounds members must bring a valid membership card to be checked.

A Christmas tree at Waddesdon
A Christmas tree at Waddesdon

Where to Stay Near Waddesdon Manor

The Five Arrows Hotel is a Grade II listed boutique hotel at the gates of Waddesdon Manor. There are 16 well-appointed bedrooms and a 2 AA rosette bar and restaurant.

The Dairy Cottage is a self-catering property with two double bedrooms and two bathrooms, sleeping up to 4 guests.

Final Thoughts: Christmas at Waddesdon Manor

There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with a visit to Waddesdon Manor. So why not visit this stunning French castle in the English countryside to experience the unique atmosphere at this time of year.

With its beautiful exterior, magical lights and range of events and activities, there’s something for everyone at this popular tourist attraction. Be sure to try one of the delicious seasonal drinks or treats on offer while you explore everything the manor has to offer – and don’t forget to pick up a unique gift from the shop before you leave!

This is a magical time to experience all the fun of Waddesdon Manor.

Further information and online booking can be found here: www.waddesdon.org.uk/christmas

Read next: Winchester Christmas Market

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