I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year.
For this blog I am hoping to extend the festivities a little longer as I share with you my experience of our trip to the Christmas Trail at Blenheim Palace. We’ve taken Ella for the previous two years, and Michelle and I have been now three years on the trot…so somewhat of a family tradition you could say.
Blenheim Palace and the Estate is like something out of a Jane Austen novel, set in the otherwise sleepy town of Woodstock in Oxfordshire. For those of you who like your history the Palace is steeped in it, and I’d recommend a brief skim through it’s Wikipedia page if that’s your thing. Blenheim Palace has plenty of events on all year or you can just turn up and explore the Estate unplanned – you can visit its official site for more information.
The Christmas Trail normally runs from late Nov up until early Jan, with numerous timeslots allocated throughout the day. We visited early evening on 14th December along with some good friends and their two children. It’s around £18 per adult, kids I think are free, plus a few quid on top for onsite parking – which I’d recommend. You can do park and ride there as well, but parking spaces in Woodstock around this event are hard to come by . I’d suggest getting there a good 30/40mins before your time slot so you can walk to the Palace entrance and have a mooch around the courtyard. You will come across a helter-skelter, carousel and several food/drink stools, as well as the visitor gift shop and café. Then, as you continue through to the Great Court there is a Christmas Market with a few dozen wooden huts selling the usual Christmas fare.
There is also a Cinderella fairy-tale experience which we did not opt in for as Ella is too young to appreciate it, but I am sure that will be on again next year.
Also, and I know this is stating the obvious, but check the weather before you head there…it was freezing cold this year, muddy the year before that and you will be walking the trail and gardens for a good couple of hours.
This year Ella stayed awake for almost the entire trail (and sadly most of the night), which compared to the previous year where she fell asleep as we entered and woke up as we were leaving, was an improvement.
It’s so magical. As you walk through the wintry trail, the view of the grounds cast under the various different light shows or even just the moonlight is stunningly beautiful. Tree canopies drenched in a rainbow of colour, a field covered in spotlights dancing to the rhythm of the festive songs playing overhead. A gingerbread cabin, singing trees, a beautifully lit boating lake and bridge, the scented fire garden and a light show against the side of the Palace as seen below. It is just, well, very Christmassy. And then of course we rounded off the evening with a well-earned hot chocolate (with all the trimmings).
The trail is buggy and stroller friendly, there are a couple of uneven sections and some small hills, but also there are several places to sit down throughout the trail and some food/beverage stalls about halfway round if you need to rest for a moment. This year they seemed to have organised it better so as not to overcrowd the walk, giving you plenty of time to stop, stare, smile…and take a selfie of course.
This year Michelle and I stayed at a hotel about 5mins drive from the Estate called the Churchill Court Hotel. The room was spacious, ok price wise and they provided us with a good travel cot and decent bedding for Ella. Breakfast too was included and no complaints on that front.
There are plenty of hotels much closer in and around Market Street, but they are a bit pricier, though very nice. Woodstock itself is a lovely place to spend an afternoon, with several local shops, antiques and some very nice pubs and restaurants. We ate at the Punchbowl, who happily catered 4 adults and 3 young kids at fairly short notice, with reasonable prices and lovely food.
As I said at the start, visiting the Christmas Trail at Blenheim Palace is now a family tradition, and if you love Christmas time and like the idea of having a romantic stroll around the grounds where the late, great Sir Winston was born (and is actually buried close by), with the smells, sounds and feel of Christmas then you will love this as much as we do.
Thanks for reading!