I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Blenheim Palace does put on an amazing palace Christmas display. 2023 was just as good as previous years, although I do think I whizz through pretty fast. You won’t spend hours there inside.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace isn’t cheap if you aren’t an annual pass holder, and take the family, doing the palace and light trail. But for me it’s a bargain as N won’t come with me in the palace anymore (I take too many photos!), and he’s not even that fussed about the light trails anymore.
If you’re just after house tickets, it means you can arrive early as you don’t need to be there hanging around afterwards and coordinating it with light trail timings. So it’s perfect for me to go on a day off work, or like this year on a Sunday morning early in the season. Morning visits mean you also tend to avoid all the crowds as they tend to come later in the day. Although there is the Christmas market which opens around 10.30, and that got busy as I was leaving at around 11.
As an annual pass holder I get a free palace ticket, so it’s only parking I paid for. And in theory I didn’t need to pay for that either because I arrived before 10am which is when parking prices kick in.
Arriving early does mean that the palace isn’t open, so you can either go for a walk, visit the gift shop or cafe, or just wait in the queue. And queue there was – I was 3rd in line waiting for the courtyard gates to open from 9.45.
With a 10am slot it’s always a bit of a rush but as a regular visitor I just cut across as I didn’t need to spend time photographing the frontage of the palace – I’ve got shots galore of that, and they never decorate the outside as the lights takes the place of decorations later in the day. I ended up being first through the door which meant I could take a bit of time and get empty room shots, rather than a lot of people taking their time ahead of me.
Blenheim Palace Sleeping Beauty
As usual the entrance hall Christmas tree was beautiful. And the storybook entrance takes you through to the corridors where the themed decorations really take hold, telling the story of Sleeping Beauty as you wander through the rooms.
I don’t recall actually reading the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, it’s the ballet I remember. The music is Tchaikovsky’s score, and it’s nice to hear that as you see the rooms.
The displays are beautiful with Christmas trees throughout, and the story of the evil fairy godmother putting the curse on Aurora, and sending her and the palace to sleep from a spinning wheel needle prick.
I loved the opening and closing flowers, and the pile of spinning wheels going to be destroyed.
You see the kitchen with sleeping workers and everything just left as it was.
Then the discovery of the sleeping castle, and True Love the Lilac Fairy coming to rescue Aurora and the castle from the curse.
I did find it a bit irritating that the hero was just referred to as True Love (why not call him Prince Philip as was standard, or at least the Prince?). And I missed seeing a Lilac fairy. That would have been a nice complete inclusion. But it didn’t detract from the scenes.
Of course the best is the final set in the long library where we get to meet Aurora exploring her garden having woken up from her bed.
It’s really beautiful with lots of places to sit and have photos taken, including with Aurora who was happy to have photos and talk to everyone. The bed was huge, and behind were beautiful moving images of plants and butterflies making you feel like it was out in the garden.
It was excellently done again, and I can’t wait to see what next year’s will be. They’ll run out of themes at some point!
I finished off tying a ribbon to the wishing tree outside before going off to browse at the Christmas market cabins.
The Christmas market was similar stalls to last year. There were some different food stalls, but I wasn’t ready for lunchtime. I bought some bamboo socks for various people for Christmas, and treated us to some cookies. Otherwise I was just keen to get home as the heavier drizzle wasn’t pleasant to be in.
Now I’m trying to persuade N to come to some different lights with me that we’ve not been to before. If you’re looking for Oxfordshire and surrounding light trails to visit, you can check them out in my post.
Are you visiting Christmas at Blenheim Palace this year?