blenheim palace signs

Christmas and art at Blenheim Palace

I have an annual pass at Blenheim Palace.  As you can upgrade free from a day ticket to an annual pass, it’s rude not to if you live near enough to go a couple of times a year.  We’ve not been for a while, but I noticed the Christmas decorations were up so thought it was time for another visit.

The weather wasn’t looking great, but it was dry, so we headed to the pleasure gardens where we tend to park.  N wanted to go on the miniature train, and it’s handy to park there, get the train up to the palace and then return on the train.

Of course N had slept in the car which for once was handy because it meant I didn’t have to put him off getting wet on the adventure playground. Instead he woke just in time for the first train of the morning, so we got straight on.

Winston the Blenheim Palace train

We were the only ones getting on there, so we had a private train journey.  I have to admit it was a little chilly (I’d forgotten to take hats with us, but N wasn’t worried) but I was pleased the train was running because N would have been really disappointed if he’d not been able to go on it.

waiting for the train at blenheim to leave

Even at 11 on a chilly misty Sunday, the palace was busy.  I’d avoided a weekend with any major events going on, but obviously the Christmas decorations and some wacky art displays were bringing in the crowds into the winter season.

blenheim palace signs

N had never been in the palace itself, and I’ve not been in for years.  It looked lovely with the lit up Christmas trees outside by the columns.

christmas trees at blenheim

It really is a beautiful building, quite spectacular and makes for some great photos.

blenheim panorama

I loved the eye above the entrance.  N stood looking at it for quite a while before we headed in.

blenheim palace entrance eye

The chandelier was beautiful, as were the golden decorations on the trees and cabinets around the palace.  It turned out to be by the artist who is currently being exhibited which almost contradicted the modernity to the rest of the collection.

beautiful christmas chandelier at blenheim palace
blenheim palace christmas trees

We headed to the state rooms to wander through the Churchill displays.  Not really very interesting for a 3 year old, even if there were bizarre modern art displays by Ai Weiwei.  Not my cup of tea, and seemingly not N’s either – he didn’t want to look at any of them, even the more interesting ‘stool’ structure.

The weirdest was a whole wall of photos, where the photographer had stuck his finger up in front of famous buildings.  Not only that, but all the photos were sideways.  Odd, very odd.

ai weiwei photography at Blenheim palace

I wanted to go to the Untold Story exhibition which is probably more suitable for N to find out about how people lived behind the doors at Blenheim, but by that stage, N wanted to go outside.  Next time we’ll have to check that out.

We went for a wander in the formal gardens.  N loves watching the waterfalls, and he was intrigued by the nude statues.

‘They’ve got no clothes on mummy’

‘She’ll get cold mummy, why’s she taking her clothes and shoes off’.  His comments really made me laugh.  We didn’t have time to check out the secret garden because lunch time was calling, and N had decided he didn’t want to have lunch at Blenheim, he wanted to go home instead.  Good choice made by N because the cafe was packed.

Of course we’d just missed the return train journey which meant a half hour wait in the cold.  I proposed walking back – probably a 15-20 minute walk at 3 year old pace, but N wasn’t keen.  Until he realised eventually that it was going to be a long wait for the train, and that would keep him further from his lunch.

riding on the train at blenheim

So we had a wet walk trying to short cut across the track in the dewy grass that others had made, then back on to the road.  I always forget to take N’s bike or scooter with us, but next time I will do.  It will definitely mean less moaning from his saying ‘my legs are tired’ every 30 seconds.

It was a pretty fleeting visit, but there’s so much still to see.  We’ve not really explored the walks, or the other gardens, or parts of the house and the new art gallery, so once we’re into the new year and have a few weekends free, we’ll have to go back again.

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  1. Oh it looks lovely and Christmassy there! I am so excited for the festive season. It does drive me mad taking a three year old as things are over pretty soon and I also get the my legs are tired. But then if I took her scooter I would get the I am bored can you hold the scooter! I can’t win! x

    1. You’re right. Whatever you do it’s never right for a toddler. I usually take a day off on my own to do Christmas shopping but this year the days off I have are with N too. We’ll do Christmas things, but it’s not the same when you’ve got a 3 year old trailing round bored.

  2. That chandelier is amazing and N looks like he really enjoyed the train ride. I think my reaction to the artwork would probably have been the same as yours – I don’t really get a lot of modern art! #CountryKids

  3. I do like some quirky artwork if it looks as though thought and creativity have gone into it. Those photos? No, not art! 😉 Does look a fabulous palace though 🙂

    1. It is a beautiful place. I’d love to get round the whole of it. Not easy to photograph when you’ve a child wanting to hold your hand all the time.

  4. I don’t think I’vevever been to Blenheim-by the looks of it I think wed really enjoy a visit. Must add it to the list!

  5. Hey, we were at Blenheim last Sunday too! I agree with you that the Ai Wei Wei stuff was a bit odd. I’m just not sure how well it worked in the setting. I liked some of the photos in the gallery (the stuff you missed) but to be honest I didn’t really “get it” – especially those odd sideways photos you saw. Odd. Elliot (our 3 year old) liked a sculpture of a watermelon(?) that appeared halfway round the Untold Story bit!

    1. Small world!

      Ha ha, it was very strange. But also really varied. Some wooden bits, sculpture, photos, a real mish mash. Seems from the comments on their facebook page, that the exhibition’s not gone down brilliantly with a lot of people.

    1. The train’s lovely. They’d even decorated inside the tunnel with Christmas lights and father Christmas decorations. Just those little finishing touches are brilliant

  6. It really does look very splendid. I love the panoramic shot, it looks so huge and impressive. I don’t blame you for getting an annual pass and always a bonus to have a train ride too! Thanks for joining me for Country Kids.

    1. I think it’s always a shame that panorama’s never look great on websites – they just cry out to be a huge photo!

      I’m glad we went last week before this week’s rain turned up.

    1. Ooh can’t beat a bit of odd art! I’ve got Waddesdon on the agenda for next Sunday I think, if I remember rightly. Have only been there for work meetings/dos so haven’t seen any of it before.

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