Last year I was gutted to realise that all the tickets for Waddesdon Manor’s Christmas displays were sold out. This year I was determined to get hold of some, so booked back in August. After going this weekend, I now know why they sell out so quickly. Waddesdon is certainly my perfect National Trust Christmas.
I’d booked house tickets – they open the East and Bachelor’s wing for the Christmas displays, and also wanted to see this year’s light installation in the gardens. I’d heard a friend say they’d not been impressed with it, when they went a week ago, so I was pleased we’d got house tickets so it wouldn’t have been a wasted journey.
I’ve said before how I prefer to get to places early so we’re not stuck with car parking, crowds and the like, but needing to see the lights we had to be hanging around until 4pm when they were turned on. Luckily, we’d arrived with enough time, and weren’t parked too far away, plus managed to get on the waiting bus for the shuttle up to the house.
As we approached the house we had a good look at the wine bottle sculpture. It’s hard to show what it’s like on photos, but they were certainly interesting and stood out.
The Christmas trees were gorgeous as expected.
We did have a bit of time before our house slot, so wandered round the Christmas market first. N just wanted food, so I did treat him to a little bag of mini mince pies. So much for taking them home to daddy, because he ate 3 while out, and then after tea scoffed the other 3 as well.
I was so excited to be seeing inside Waddesdon Manor for the first time. It’s certainly very grand, and the Christmas displays are the best I’ve ever seen. Each room was themed, and were truly magical.
Children had a sticker trail where they had to find the Minor bird in each room, so N was kept entertained doing that.
Mostly he was happy to look at the displays as well. There was lots to talk about, and look at even for little children. We saw white rooms; golden disco staircases; Peter Pan; The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, lots of mirrored reflections, The 3 Wise Men/Kings, Hannukah, Fruit and more.
Each one seemed more special than the last. I could have spent all day there looking, rather than the 30-40 minutes we probably spent.
Afterwards back outside, we needed to entertain ourselves until time for the light installation to begin. I offered that we could go to the playground, and head down to The Stables to warm up with a hot chocolate. As always it was busy around there, but we found seating to have a quick break. Many of the seats had furry covers to sit on or under which was a lovely wintry touch.
N turned his nose up at decorating a bauble, but he did want to write to Father Christmas in the Elf workshop. We wrote 2 letters because I ran out of space, and N signed his name. The fact that he was asking for a sword, toy dinosaur, elf hat, costume and elf ears was beyond me. (Worryingly, 2 days later he’s reminded me of this fact!)
Duly posted in the postbox, we headed over to the playground. N’s not one for playing where places are busy. He likes them to be empty, so proclaimed it was too busy for him and refused to go on anything. So we merely wandered and headed back up the hill towards the house so we could check out the lights which were due on shortly.
Of course N moaned his legs were tired. He’d walked a fair distance but I knew he’d be fine once he was distracted with something else. The great thing about a 4 year old is I can just tell him we’re going the quickest route back to the bus, even though it’s a detour. He just takes it as read (despite the fact that turning his head the other way would have shown him the direct route!)
We blitzed past the aviary. N wasn’t interested in the birds at all, apart from a bluebird that he said was the Blue from Rio. He was more interested in the strange green lawnmower. It turned out to be an imow, so I got to read him the display board all about it. It seems a robotic lawnmower is exciting to a 4 year old!
Dusk was coming so we headed towards the Bruce Monroe tent installation. We started the wander along the path, when suddenly at 4pm, the sound started. Blimey, the girl in front of us and I jumped out of our skins!
The display was a little strange as I so often find modern art is. Essentially white tents each side of the path, lit up different colours, playing radio and song excerpts, interspersed with morse code signalling SOS.
I loved it. I didn’t think I would, but we really enjoyed walking along, watching the colours changing and listening to the music. We even had a bit of a boogy at one point.
It did get quite busy along the path with families, wheelchairs and buggies. It didn’t help that we’d not gone round from the main start point but from the other direction. It was a nice change to just a walk, and N found it interesting trying to tell which tents the music was coming from.
Once we’d finished our circuit, we emerged to find the music and light display on the Manor house. It really was stunning as everyone had stopped to watch, cameras and video cameras poised.
I’m not sure anything would beat the Christmas displays and lights at Waddesdon Manor. I’ll definitely be there again next year and booking my tickets early.
Have you been anywhere where the lights and Christmas displays have really made you smile?
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