At the end of term Mum drove up to spend a Christmassy weekend in York with me. In an attempt to avoid the hordes of Christmas shoppers, we instead chose to spend Sunday morning at the nearby Castle Howard checking out their famous decorations – and we had the best day.
This post is not sponsored by Castle Howard, but if you’re interested in taking a trip (I would highly recommend) see the bottom of this post for ticket and accessibility information!
Castle Howard opens its doors all year round, but Christmas is particularly special. Each year their decorations are loosely tied to a theme (this year it was “bringing the outside in”) and thousands of people descend down the stunning drive to view the countless trees, baubles, lights and festive installations around this stunning stately home. There was a tree made of books, one decorated with cups and saucers and even one hanging upside down!
This year also featured an extraordinary baking feat: Castle Howard recreated in gingerbread, complete with gingerbread train chugging steadily around the model, harking back to the years when the Castle had its own on-site rail station, where Queen Victoria alighted on her two-day visit here. In fact, the gingerbread model is housed in the very room she slept in.
As well as enjoying the stunning house which was full of friendly and helpful guides, Mum treated us both to a full Christmas dinner complete with prosecco and followed by amazing dessert. We took a walk around the indoor market but both felt that left a little to be desired so made our way outside to check out the impressive grounds, in particular the enormous fountain and lovely walled garden. Given there are 1000 acres to explore, we’re sure to return in the spring and summertime.
Tickets for the house and gardens on the day will cost £18.95 for adults and £17.50 for concessions, but note that if you book online before midnight the day before your visit you can claim a 10% discount on your ticket price. Furthermore, students count as concessions (I thought we would, but trawled through pages of terms and conditions just to make sure!). You can buy a ticket just for the grounds (£9.95 adult, £9 concession). Visitors with a disability can be accompanied by one essential carer free of charge, assistance dogs are welcome throughout the house, and wheelchairs are also available with no need to pre-book.
If you’re factoring in food, there are various different cafes and shops available for different price ranges, but it’s definitely on the more expensive side so a picnic may be a better option if you’re looking to save money. If you don’t have a car, a bus service runs to the Castle in the morning and returns in the evening from Monday to Saturday. It costs £10 for a return, but this does give you a reduction on your ticket price. For more information about Castle Howard, click here.