Glorious Christmas displays at Waddesdon Manor National Trust

Last year I was gutted to realise that all the tickets for the Christmas displays at Waddesdon Manor 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 a favourite National Trust Christmas.

Check out our other Waddesdon Manor Christmas visits.

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.

wine bottle sculpture

The Christmas trees were gorgeous as expected.

berry and firs

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.

flavoured oils at Waddesdon Manor Christmas market

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.

waddesdon children's challenge

Children had a sticker trail where they had to find the minor bird in each room, so N was kept entertained doing that.

Waddesdon Christmas tree

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.

Christmas decoration reflections
fruit room at Waddsdon Manor
feather staircase at Waddesdon Manor
3 wise men room at Waddesdon
3 wise men themed Christmas room
white lights dinner room
wise men christmas display

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.

peter pan themed room at Waddesdon
lion the witch and the wardrobe room at Waddesdon

The Stables activities

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.

running down the hill to the stables

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!)

posting the letter to father christmas

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.

chilling and watching

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!)

chilly day out at waddesdon

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!

catching the colour blocks
looking out

Light installation

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!

bruce monroe light installation
Bruce Monroe tent light installation
checking out the tents

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.

windy and clouds over Waddesdon Manor

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.

waddesdon manor lit up for Christmas

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.

Waddesdon Manor's Christmas light display

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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  1. Wow Emma, that is amazing and just seeing the outside of the manor all lit up. That took my breath away, I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. I bet the inside and what you showed us was amazing in person.

    I love looking at Christmas lights as you know so I would just be walking around that place with my mouth wide open. I agree, I see why those tickets sell out fast. I know you’re glad you did that early.

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us. Truly amazing.

    Happy Holiday!


    1. Hi Adrienne. Yes, it is amazing. Even without the lights it’s gorgeous and luxurious, but it just felt so festive, and alive, if you know what I mean.
      Thanks for stopping by, have a great Christmas

  2. Wow that’s very unique. I’m glad you got tickets on time this year. We haven’t been to any lights this year. Mainly because we only live in a small town and there’s not much going on. My boy is fascinated by the big Xmas tree in town whenever we do go though.

  3. I want to go too now, I have never been but I am so jealous. I would have loved to tour the manor and the grounds. Sounds like you and N had such a lovely time and I am very intrigued by the wine bottle sculpture

  4. Wow! What an amazing, festive day. I think I would really like that tent installation, it looks really interesting. I love visiting National Trust properties but we’ve never gone for Christmas, I am thinking we should!

  5. The tents look completely and wonderfully weird! I love it. My favourite ever Christmas lights and decorations was another National Trust – Upton House which can’t be too far from you. We’ve taken the children to meet Father Christmas there for the last two years in a row and it’s been perfect – festive and calm and full of enormous decorated trees and roaring fires – one of my all time favourite memories is dancing in the long gallery while someone played Christmas jazz on the piano and we all sung along – we have our tickets for this year!!

    1. Ah, I did Upton House the next day (minus N), and it was disappointing. It’s all wartime exhibitions at the moment so nothing’s luxury, it’s all news-paper chains etc. Although I was there when a 40s reenactment group were there and Christmas vintage markets, so it was nice to see people dressed in the right era wear for the exhibitions.

  6. Those displays inside the house look beautiful – I especially like the Narnia one. I can imagine that it must have been quite magical walking up the path with all the lit-up tents and the music playing 🙂

    1. It is really special both inside and out. I’ll be booking again each year hopefully. No wonder so many people go. The other displays feel a bit tame in comparison

  7. This is my local stomping round and I used to go on long walks to Waddesdon Manor from my childhood home and sneak in through the hedge through a field, back then there were no Christmas lights, these have really transformed it, it does look magical all lit up and I can imagine it being wonderful to walk along with the music playing too. No wonder it sells out so early. Thank you so much for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    1. They’ve definitely done a great job with the lights. They must have built it up over the years but the word’s got out that it’s worth going to. It was really beautiful

  8. Love the internal displays. Like you, not too sure about the tents. A someone who has recently got into home brewing in a bit way, I’m looking at the tree of empty brown bottles and seeing huge potential! Home brewed beer, you see, has ot be stored in either green or brown bottles. #CountryKids

    1. Ha ha. I reckon my work would be keen on wine bottle installations – a great way to reduce the amount of glass on the market. Although possibly not very safe in hot weather with a fire risk.

  9. We must’ve been there a bit later!
    Isn’t Waddesdon just gorgeous this time of year? We didn’t do the House as ours was an impromptu visit but looking at your photos and reading your text it looks worth while!
    Lovely to see you last week. Have a fun weekend

  10. Oh I want to go! It looks so, so beautiful! The brief time we spent there in October has made me want to go back and I cannot wait to visit again x

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