Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…. So where can you take the family to get into the spirit of the season? Here’s our pick of the festive frivolities happening at some of the stunning historic venues this winter.
Thinking of making your own wreath this year but not sure where to start? If you need some inspiration then help is at hand, with a variety of creative workshops available in the lead-up to Christmas. Scotney Castle is running four workshops, on Wednesday 27th November and Saturday 30th November, at 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm, in which you can finally adorn your front door with your own floral creation. All materials are supplied, plus tea, coffee and mince pies, for £45 per person. Over at Leeds Castle, from 12th-14th December 11am-3pm, you can create handmade wreaths with expert guidance from the RHS Award-winning Castle Floristry Team. Sessions cost £55 per person including a one-day entrance ticket and refreshments.
Meanwhile, at Penshurst Place, you can make your own wreaths at one of two workshops being held on 4th and 5th December. Using foliage collected from the Penshurst Place estate, Unique Floral Designs’ Sandra Belton will help you create a truly unique wreath that will be the envy of all your neighbours. Places cost £40 per person including festive refreshments.
And for those of you who are feeling particularly creative, the venue will also be hosting two new ‘Christmas Décor’ workshops for adults, organised by The Crafty Hen Company, whose clients include Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley and Joules. During the two-hour session, you’ll have the chance to handmake your own ceramic Christmas tree decorations or Christmas crackers, as well as enjoying mince pies and coffee, all for £40 per person.
Santa Claus is coming to town
If you don’t want to wait until Christmas eve to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas, then pop along to one of his weekend storytelling sessions at Scotney Castle, at 9.30am on 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd, and on Monday 23rd December. Sessions cost £10 per child including a gift. Alternatively, for just £5 per child, there’ll be weekday Meet & Greets with Father Christmas, 9.30am from 16th-20th December, where you can collect a special gift and have your photograph taken with the man himself.
He’ll also be making his way to Leeds Castle, weekends from 23rd November – 15th December, where you can wander through the Christmas Market to an enchanted path leading to a magical grotto. Father Christmas will be waiting to greet you and present a traditional gift to take home.
At Hever Castle, you can either pre-book to meet Father Christmas (£11.95), or you can see him in his captivating Toy Workshop on December weekends from 7th onwards, and also on Monday 23rd December, with a chance to receive a gift on a first-come-first-serve basis. Tickets cost £8.50 on the day.
Father Christmas will also be performing his own 25-minute panto-style storytelling show at Penhurst Place, alongside a rather naughty little elf! Tickets are £9 per child; £5 per adult. Visitors are encouraged to wear Christmas jumpers or festive fancy dress to help them get into the Christmas spirit!
If you’re not sure where to start your Christmas shopping this year, then why not combine a day out at a historic venue with a little retail therapy in the gift shop? At Scotney Castle, an exclusive range of Christmas gifts for all the family is available from 1st November. And at Hever Castle, you can complete your visit with relaxed Christmas shopping in the beautifully decorated shops which are packed with festive gift ideas and stocking fillers.
And with over 2,000 items to choose from at the Leeds Castle shops this Christmas, you’d be a fool not come a have a peek for yourself! Gift ideas include Kent wines, spirits and ciders; local and international confections; fine English china; sparkling jewellery; dressing-up clothes; stocking fillers; and beautiful Christmas decorations. And don’t forget the stunning Christmas market overlooking the castle, which offers a splendid array of seasonal gifts, toys, festive decorations, specialist food and drink. While you’re there, you can also enjoy nostalgic fairground rides on the Victorian carousel, take a leisurely trip on the big wheel, or simply enjoy live music performances from the bandstand each day.
Finally, once you’ve spent time perusing the beautiful historic venues that Kent has to offer, you’ll probably have worked up an appetite. Hever Castle will be offering tempting treats in their restaurants where their chefs will be preparing delicious seasonal food, mince pies and refreshments. Alternatively, as part of their ‘Roast and Ramble’ series, Penshurst Place will be laying on the following festive three-course carvery lunches this winter: on 17th November, lunch will be combined with a tour through the gardens by Head Gardener, Tony Wiseman, who will advise on how to best prepare your garden for the incoming winter chill. Then on Sunday 15th December, for a festive experience and Christmas lunch, Tudor Legacies will showcase a few Tudor Christmas traditions in the Baron’s Hall.
Scotney Castle will also be offering weekday Christmas lunches from Monday 25th November-Friday 20th December, where you can choose from their delicious two or three-course menus, priced at £22.95 and £25.95 respectively.