See this: Christmas at Blenheim
I think it’s fair to say that when Blenheim Palace decides to do something, it does it with bells, whistles, fanfares and a whole lot of style. This is the first year that the estate has created an illuminated walkway, picking up on a trend that’s been happening for some time at the likes of Waddesdon Manor and Westonbirt Arboretum, and they’ve done a fantastic job of it.
Your intrepid correspondent (me, in case you’re wondering) was one of the first to walk the hour-long path that takes guests down the back of the palace, over to the boating lake, up through the Capability Brown-designed grounds and finally to the lakeside lodge where Father Christmas is hamming it up until 2 Jan, and even though I did it solo, it was massively enjoyable. I’m definitely going to come back with the whole fam.
Seriously, what’s not to like? Small children will be enchanted (and also gratifyingly tired afterwards as it’s quite a walk for little legs); older kids will enjoy zipping out in front and seeing some cool stuff – particularly the waterfall with its cascading colours (see my video below, it’s beautiful), the boating lake and the final walkway lit up by a gazillion white lights.
For adults it’s a chance to see the Palace and grounds in a totally different way, though be prepared to put your hands in your pockets at the end if you have kids – they’ll have bolted off to the inner courtyard for multiple rides on the carousel and helter skelter.
A couple of tips: I went on Friday when it was dry but the ground in several places was already a little muddy, so it’s definitely a walk that needs welly or walking boots, particuarly for kids or older people. It’s also pretty dark which I know is the point (all the better to ooh and ahh at the illuminations) but there are times when you could do with a small torch, even if it’s just one between all of you. Finally, don’t underestimate how quickly it gets cold once the light has gone. I had a chunky jumper and my trusty old faux fur so my body was warm enough, but my hands were freezing by the time I made it back to the palace so come prepared.
Even though Christmas at Blenheim only just started on Friday night, weekends for the foreseeable are just about sold out so I’d really recommend not leaving it too long before you book. Ticket prices are fair I think – it’s not hard to justify £48 for 2 adults and 2 kids for such a one off though don’t forget add another £5 for a Park and Ride (5 minutes from the palace) or £8 to park in the grounds.
There are whisperings of further ticket releases so I’ll let you know about that one if and when it happens but if you make it down there, please take two minutes to comment below, I’d love to know what you think.
If you want to head into Woodstock and the warm afterwards, good idea – I’m a big fan of Woodstock, with its really strong indie vibe and gorgeous village centre. For foodies, The Kings Arms is very family friendly with great food; The Crown inn is stylish and relaxed, again with superior grub. For shopping make sure you head to Woldstone contemporary jewellery boutique – you’ll find it pretty much between The Kings Arms and The Crown and it’s packed with stunning one-off designs but to be honest the whole village is worth a good mooch, so perhaps factor that into your trip too either before or after you’ve been floored by the illuminations.
Christmas at Blenheim, 5 – 10pm until 2 Jan. Adults £16-18; kids 5-16 £10-12; under 5s are free. Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £48-56. blenheimpalace.com