Waddesdon Manor aviaries
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Lights and music in Colourscape at Waddesdon Manor

We’d not managed to get tickets for the Christmas light displays at National Trust’s Waddesdon Manor last year which I was really disappointed about, so I was on the look out for another excuse to visit once it opened again after Christmas.  So when I spotted the Colourscape event over the Easter holidays, I knew I wanted to go and see it.

Brilliantly it coincided (although I’d not twigged until a couple of days before) with the Cadbury Easter Trails too, so I thought that’d be a great way to ensure N was keen to come along too…he’s always saying ‘Mummy I want to stay at home today’, which basically means he wants to go out on the farm with his dad.

It turned out it was a repeat visit for the exhibition after last year’s and the warning was to get there early to avoid the long queues.  I always aim for opening time, so we got to Waddesdon car park around 10.30, and jumped on the shuttle bus.  I’d not realised how long a trek it was up to the house, we were glad we bussed it rather than walking.

swirly turret windows at Waddesdon Manor

Colourscape at Waddesdon

When we arrived there was already a small queue at the Colourscape area, so we collected our Easter trail information first, then joined the queue.  It had rained the night before, so there was a slight delay opening while they had to wipe off all the water from the flooring, but we didn’t have to wait too long.

Colourscape chamber tents

N wasn’t keen though.  As soon as we stood in the queue, he wanted snacks.  Then he moaned he wanted to go home (not even wanting to do the Easter trail).  Then when Colourscape opened and the queue moved up to the payment area, there was more moaning.  I paid, removed my shoes (then had to replace them) and grabbed N and carried him over to the cape collection area.

He didn’t want to take off his wellies.  He didn’t want a cape, which the woman handing them out looked confused about, but then I’m not really surprised, (surely he couldn’t have been the only child to have refused one).  I had to then carry him in through the door and into the first chamber, when he had a transformation and was quite happy to be there.

flying in Colourscape - Waddesdon Manor

Colourscape is a suite of around 60-70 chambers, lit up with different colours for people to explore.  Some days also had musicians playing in the larger chamber.  We were given different coloured capes to wear, but I didn’t notice that they looked anything different or special when we went into the different chambers so wasn’t sure of the point of those.


N absolutely loved it.  It was like a maze of coloured circular chambers, you could go in any direction, and from most places inside you could hear the musicians playing.  When we were there, there was a Balinese Gamelan band playing.  A lot of gongs, flutes and chimes.

Balinese Gamelan music

N quite liked sitting and listening to the music but he was happy to sit and watch from a distance, rather than getting up close to the strange looking instruments.

Once we’d listened to the music, it was time to explore again…getting lost and trying to find our way out again.  Up to 90 people were allowed in at once, and we were in the first group in, but it didn’t feel busy at all.  You just felt very relaxed and able to roam any direction you wanted.

posing in Colourscape Waddesdon Manor

Lunch options

We finished just in time to go and get some lunch.  I decided that we didn’t want to go to the restaurant and presumed that the cafe in The Stables was self service.  I was surprised that it was waitress service…and before midday the queue for a table was out the door.  Across the grounds there are various kiosks for refreshments, but we wanted more than a cup of tea, and wanted to sit inside given it looked like it might rain at any moment.

At The Stables there was also a refreshments bar which was serving baguettes, soup and drinks, so we queued up for that instead in the hope that there would be a spare table outside by the time we’d bought our sandwiches.  I’ve never seen a National Trust place quite so manic. The kiosk queue was moving really slowly as well.  Eventually we did get our food (a lunchbox for N and baguette for me), although I gave up trying to get a drink.  It wasn’t a great experience, and in summer I’d definitely take a picnic rather than trying to buy food there.  What also seemed madness was that there were no menus until you either got to tables inside, or until you reached the kiosk, so you had no idea what you were queuing for.

Waddesdon Easter trail

After lunch it was time for N to do the Easter Trail.  This is our third year of doing them, and I love how they’re different each year, and at each site.  It also gets us walking and exploring more than we probably would without a task to achieve.

checking out the easter trail clues

We had to work out which of 8 animals was innocent and hadn’t stolen the easter eggs in Waddesdon.  I don’t know what it is with trails like this, but we always seem to miss the first clue.  Note to self, must start concentrating from the beginning!

The trail was a lovely walk round the gardens

flowers at waddesdon manor

We also went alongside the aviaries, which were beautiful buildings.

Waddesdon Manor aviaries

Of course, N decided he wanted to pick flowers. Thankfully I managed to stop him trying for bluebells and he was satisfied with daisies.

picking daisies

I really should remember to take a plastic bag out with us on these outdoor walks because I always end up with leaves, grass and weeds in my handbag.  This time it was sprigs of laurel leaves.

picking leaves

It seems that tripping over is also an annual tradition at our Easter trails.  I’d warned N to watch out for stones as he was running down the hilly paths, but of course he still managed to trip up. One tiny grazy on his knee, a lot of crying, and even more mud up his coat and waterproof trousers.

On the way back to collect his egg, we walked behind Colourscape again.  We could hear the music from outside, and then found that the musicians were marching up towards the manor.  Despite his earlier disinterest, N was most put out that there were children marching alongside them with instruments!

Balinese gamelan music group

N was very pleased with his egg (me less so, it was a bit of a deformed one.  Must have been stored badly and squashed when warm), and by that time he was tired and ready to go home.  We’d walked some way – around the trail, and then a long walk via the woodland playground to get food and back up the hill again.  So I let him have the wanting to go home.

He’d had a great time, and despite it not being wonderful weather, it was nice to get a good walk and experience something a bit different in Colourscape.  N’s best bit was probably splashing in the huge puddles.

puddle jumping

Next time I want to go and look round the manor house itself.  Maybe I’ll have to go without N so I don’t get him moaning left right and centre.  Otherwise we’ll hopefully we back for the Christmas displays if we can get tickets.

Did you do any of the Easter trails this year?

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    1. It was beautiful. Really lovely experience, even with lots of children running around.

      Thanks for linking up to my #MusicExploration linky

  1. Colourscape is such good fun! As a musician who has played for it several times, I have always enjoyed it (but too hot in the summer!) and the Gamelan works well inside it! Thanks for sharing your experiences. x

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Must be a great experience, especially to see everyone enjoying the music in setting. Weird accoustics for the musicians though?

  2. Colourscape sounds amazing. It is lovely for children to see different types of instruments and listen to different music , especially in such a full on sensory way. Looks like a fab day out.

  3. I keep seeing this and wondering if it’s still on, I might be able to take the kids there this weekend. Not sure if they would be up for participating in the performance though! I am curious about the inside of the house too, but I won’t risk it with the kids with me! Totally agree, something is amiss with the cafe’s restaurants and picnics are the way to go. I do love a latte treat when I’m out and about though and the pumpkin soup that we had there in the Winter was worth the wait and pennies.

    1. Aw no, it was only on til the 12th. I don’t know if it’ll be on again later in the year. Although it might go to other places because another blogger mentioned they saw it in Milton Keynes a while back.

  4. The Mother says – Waddesdon Manor is always one of our favourite places to visit – it’s only 5 miles down the road from us and is absolutely spectacular. The Colourscape event looks interesting 🙂 #countrykids

  5. Glad you managed a good day of it in the end. We also visited Waddesdon although after the Easter weekend when they were still catching up from what must have been crazily busy. 2-year-old Tilly was a yellow caped blur inside and we were all worn out after half an hour! Agree that more menu signage at the Stables would help. #countrykids

    1. It was a great event. There were a couple of other bloggers who went towards the end of this week, and queued for an hour to get in. Madness, but if you don’t get in the first entry, then I suppose you have to wait for others to come out which could take a while.

  6. That looks really cool – I’m disappointed to have missed it. We got National Trust membership from my parents for Xmas, so we’ve been going to a few different places recently. We’re in Herts, so we went to Waddeson in Feb.

    1. NT membership is brilliant, especially if you’ve got under 5s who’re free. Although I’m the only one with it in our house because the OH won’t usually be with us.

  7. I was there on Thursday-we really enjoyed it. Such an interesting experience and one I’d definitely like to try again.

    1. I’d like to see it again as well – with some more preferable music. Such a shame about some of the queues, as it would be great to be able to roam as and when you want

    1. It is beautiful. Built by Baron de Rothschild so extremely ornate. And huge – didn’t feel busy at all (apart from the eating places)

  8. Wow now this is an Easter trail with a difference! I love the look of those circles of colour, what fun to walk through and now I understand your silent sunday from last week too! I hope you make it back to see the inside of the House too one day, though alone is probably a good plan, mine always get bored and end up getting into trouble over something looking round old country houses! Thank you for sharing a great day on Country Kids.

    1. N always moans about the houses, but he’s usually ok inside if there’s a trail for smaller children. It just means we rush through instead of taking our time! So going on my own is probably a good idea.

  9. Wow, this Colourscape looks really interesting, it must have been really good fun to do, and quite artistic too. Funny that you almost had to force him, but thankfully he enjoyed it in the end 🙂 The Easter hunt trail sounds really interesting too, never heard of a one where you have to solve a “crime” story 😀 Sounds pretty good for older kids for whom just Easter eggs might be a bit boring! #countrykids

    1. It was really interesting. And you could just enjoy it for what it was – colour, light, sound rather than some pretentious explanation of why and what you were looking at. Much more enjoyable this way.

      The trail was good – the crime bit for older children, and the younger ones could just learn about the animals on the clues.

    1. I love his jacket too. Pleased it still fits from last year – it’s great for pictures compared with his dull khaki winter coat!

      Thanks for commenting Liska

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