The annual trip to see Father Christmas is a staple part of many families’ festive preparations, and the speed with which Castle Howard’s Santa-themed experiences book up is surely testimony to this being one of the best ways for children to share their Christmas wishes!
“We have created an experience which enables families to get into the Christmas spirit by enjoying the decorated house before having a magical visit to Father Christmas, complete with storytelling by the roaring fire. With a small group of children all together to join in with Father Christmas’s songs, stories and magic young visitors and parents enjoy an interactive audience with Father Christmas before going up to collect their personalised present,” comments the Hon Nicholas Howard, who shares his family home with tens of thousands of visitors each year. “There can be few venues with quite so many fairy lights, baubles and Christmas trees to create such a memorable experience for children, parents and grandparents alike.”
Indeed, alongside the 45-minute fireside audience with Father Christmas, Castle Howard offers a longer magical evening with the great man, available only in the week leading up to Christmas, which also includes a festive tea party in the Grecian Hall and a candlelit trail through the house itself in search of some festive friends and Father Christmas! The magical evenings are so popular, they sold out within the first few days of release!
Even with extra dates added for 2016, those not fortunate enough to secure a coveted place with Father Christmas can still enjoy the family-friendly delights of North Yorkshire’s grandest stately home. New attractions for 2016 include the creation of a huge gingerbread version of Castle Howard and the architectural marvels within its grounds produced by the world-famous Bompas & Parr, the ultimate Christmas afternoon tea in the Grecian Hall, and a Christmas market which moves under cover for the first time.
“Even though this is one of the busiest times of year for Castle Howard, there’s so much here for people to see and do that it never feels crowded – though our daily musicians usually draw a very good audience when they are performing,” adds marketing manager, Rachel Underwood. “We get such a mix of people, from families wanting to get into the Christmas spirit to groups of friends looking for an unhurried afternoon’s exploration and shopping for unusual gifts. We also have many locals who come to the garden centre for their Christmas trees and farm shop for their turkey and trimmings – everyone is welcome!”
Castle Howard is open daily from 19 November to 23 December from 10.00am (last entry to the House 4pm, 5pm at weekends) with admission prices of £18.95 for adults with concessions available. Under 4s get in free, and family tickets (two adults and up to three children) are available for £47.85. A special ‘Twilight opening’ on 18 December will enable families to experience the house as darkness falls, with the house illuminated with hundreds of candles and a festive sing-along in the garden; for the Twilight opening, last entry to the house will be 7.00pm.
Visitors are advised to book early for sessions with Father Christmas, and the Christmas Afternoon Teas, as availability is limited and they are expected to book up quickly.
For more information on all of Castle Howard’s Christmas events, or to prebook, visit www.castlehoward.co.uk .