AD – We were invited to spend the day at Blenheim palace for the purpose of this post.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace 2019 – I am always on the look out for festive activities which do not centre around seeing the big man. As much we love a trip to see Father Christmas like many other families. I also think its nice to do something else. Having visited Blenheim Palace a couple of years ago I was very excited to be asked to review their Christmas offering. Not only do they have The Illuminated Light Trial but they have also dressed various state rooms in the place with scenes from Alice in Wonderland
Along with these there are also some vintage fairground rides in the entrance and a beautiful Christmas market in the courtyard of the palace. We arrived about 2:30pm, you can park on site if you pre book parking or there is a park and ride facility. We headed straight for the Alice in Palace experience. Tickets are timed and pre booking is necessary, on the day we visited all there were no more tickets available. Booking is simple and can be done online. After visiting I can totally understand why they are so popular.
As you enter the palace you are greeted with large house of cards and beautiful red Christmas trees. It is quite a sight and both boys gasped as they saw it. From here we wandered along the corridor and we came across the looking glass. Which is a floor length mirror cleverly positioned in front of another, so that your reflection disappears into the distance. The boys were fascinated by this and we spent a fair while laughing ourselves. Continuing along the corridor and under a festive arch we came across a video animation of Alice. She was taking the ‘Drink me’ potion so she could shrink and fit through the door.
There is a tiny little door near the video animation for the kids to peer through. From here the trail takes you through a number of the state rooms which are each decorated with a different character from the story. There was rabbit, caterpillar, dodo, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts. My favourite was the flamingo room, where they acted out a game of croquet being played with hedgehogs for little balls. There are some beautiful paper cuts of the various scenes and parts of the stories. There is also a giant table with a large a key as well as ‘EAT ME’ biscuits and ‘DRINK ME’ glass bottles.
We then moved on to the Mad Hatter Tea Party where a huge table was laid out with various towering cakes and sweet treats. There is a light show playing on the white ceilings change the colours of the room as they rotate. There is lots of sparkle and glitz which is really appealing to everybody. Along the side of the table there were plenty of chairs to sit, to encourage photo opportunities and to take part in the party. Kipper liked trying out all the different cakes and pretending to drink tea out of the fine bone china cups.
At the end of the room you could meet Alice herself who was by this time back up to normal size meeting and greeting the little boys and girls. Posing for a photo if required. The last room is in the chapel where there is the opportunity to write wishes on some Alice themed tag. The tags can be hung on the tree. It was a lovely touch and encouraged a conversation around what Christmas is all about. We were in there for over an hour taking in all the different rooms and the decorations. It was beautiful.
The first time slot for the Illuminated Light Trail is 4.40pm so there was some time in between to tuck into some treats in the Christmas market. There is a wide selection of food and drinks to suit everyone including mulled wine and cider, soft drinks, burgers and sausages, wraps, fries and sweet treats such as chocolate, ginger bread and cookies. As well as a number of stall selling different locally produced gifts which would make excellent Christmas presents.
If you want to go on the vintage fairground rides you need to purchase tokens from the stall next to the entrance. Thankfully they do take card payments as do many of the vendors in the Christmas market, plus there is a cashpoint on site if needed. Each token costs £2.50 each and each ride needs one token per rider. There is a little merry-go-round for the little ones, boat swings, a gorgeous carousel and of course Monkey’s favourite a helter-skelter. As darkness fell the lights on the rides really gave me that Christmassy feeling.
The Illuminated light trial is entered through the main gates to the grounds at the back of the palace. The trail its self is predominantly on hardstanding although there are a couple of steep trails to be aware of for those with buggies and wheelchairs. But there are lots of marshalls around to help you if needed. Time tickets work well as it means everybody gets a chance to see the light exhibits easily. Take photos and just generally spend time not feeling pressured or overcrowded. It took us a good hour and a half to walk around the trail with a three year old in tow. Halfway round there is a pitstop where you can buy drinks on toast marshmallows. Having visited the light trail before I did wonder if it might be a bit samey. Although I was very impressed by just how different it was and a lot of thought has obviously gone into creating a unique experience.
Our favourite parts include the light tunnel which is simply stunning and one of the first light exhibits you come to. I also really like the neon ropes as it reminded me of something from Tron, it took Monkey a while to get his head around them. As you walk through the different areas different music plays. With many a good Christmas classic to really get you in the festive mood. There was also a little show about Father Christmas warming Jack Frost‘s heart at Christmas time. It was very good and engaged the crowds, the boys really enjoyed the show. Unfortunately it did rain while we were visiting which is to be expected this time of year. But there is so much to keep the boys entertained that they didn’t moan once. Even though we were quite wet by the time we got back to the car I still would’ve done it even in the rain. The grand finale of the light illuminated light walk is seeing the back of the palace all lit up in a musical projector show. I would challenge anyone not feel festive after watching it
We had a fantastic time at Blenheim Palace and despite visiting the previous year this year was even better than before. I can see why it’s a popular, tickets are available online and you must pre-book time slots for the Alice in the Palace and the Illuminated Light Trial on the website
. However I would be quick as tickets are selling fast for both attraction. An adult ticket for both is available from £40.50 per adult, £25.50 per child, under 5s are free and family tickets are also available from £28 per person. I do think it’s great value for money and this could be the start of a new Christmas tradition for us each year.