Blenheim Palace at Christmas is so magical and one of the best ways to embrace the festivities. It’s perfect for the whole family. We’ve visited for the last three years – ever since my boy was born really – so Christmas at Blenheim Palace has kind of become a family tradition for us. And as a result I have plenty of tips for your own visit to the Blenheim Palace Christmas festivities.
Christmas at Blenheim
Ad- Gifted: In 2019 I received press tickets. I’ve brought tickets for the other years, so you can be assured that my love for this event is real!
Christmas at Blenheim Palace 2020 – In light of Covid-19 the event is still going ahead, but the Palace won’t be dressed in theme and the Christmas market won’t be there – just the trail. It’s hoped both of those parts will be able to return for 2021. My review below reflects the 2019 experience.
The Christmas experience at Blenheim is made up of two parts; the Illuminated Light Trail and ‘Alice in the Palace’. You can buy tickets for either part or both. And if you choose both, you can easily enjoy all of it in the one evening without feeling rushed.
That said, if you just choose the trail you can equally fill your evening with lots of magical fun. Both are child-friendly. We’ve been since my boy was a tiny baby to now when he’s just turned 4.
Usually we just visit the trail. This was the first year that we also ventured into the palace and wow, it was good. So good that my girl (2) cried to go back in to see Alice again!
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The Illuminated Light Trail
Beautiful arty light installations take you on a loop walk through the impressive grounds at Blenheim.
Walk underneath quirky light chandeliers, through the Tunnel of Light, which is made up of over 100,000 pea-lights, and past a colour-changing waterfall.
Stroll through the woodland laser garden and later use the giant snowflakes as stepping stones. From one festive scene to another, it’s fun and magical. Teamed with the Christmas music and cold, fresh air it truly is an inescapable way to get that festive feeling.
The trail ends with an encounter with Santa. Together with the help of his friends, Santa spreads a little kindness and smiles for all. Whilst it’s not a traditional Santa grotto experience, the ‘performance’ is perfect for little children. So much so, that Nova and Kit watched it twice.
Every year the scenes and most of the installations change, so no two years feel the same. And to be honest, even if they didn’t, it would still be worth visiting again and again.
Tips for the Illuminated Light Trail
- Book as early as possible. Again, tickets sell out quickly. Also, book early in respect of your time slot. If you have little ones, I’d recommend booking the first slot so that it minimises the impact on their bedtime routine.
- Put little ones in a carrier or sling. They’ll be toasty in there and it’s easier than pushing a stroller. That said, if they’re too big for a carrier expect to have to carry them at points (it’s about an hour’s walk if you whizz round) or bring a pushchair. There are a few hills to contend with and patches of gravel to challenge your buggy wheels.
- Wear thermals and dress little ones in a snowsuit/skiwear. In all the years we’ve been we’ve never been too hot.
- Bring gloves and hats, particularly for little ones.
- Bring a torch or one of those flashy light things. They have them for sale, so little ones are bound to want to one if they don’t already have something. The light also helps on the walk back to the car.
- Bring cash for the stalls, including the marshmallow stand halfway round.
- Forget trying to take photos and just enjoy it!
- Consider a visit to Waddesdon Manor for their Christmas trail if it’s closer to you, but in my opinion Blenheim is better – you can read my review for more thoughts.
Alice in the Palace
So what is Alice in the Palace? A festive Alice in Wonderland theme descends upon Blenheim palace. The hallways, let alone the rooms, are grand enough in their own right, but decked out with elaborate Christmas trees and ornate decorations they really bring the ‘wow’ factor. Add in creative scenes from the book and you can imagine what a feast it is for the eyes.
There’s a challenge to find the white rabbit in each of the rooms, which really is a challenge considering the OTT grandeur of the decorations. Some rabbits are small, some big. Some are easy to find and others not so much. This game totally captivated Nova (4) and he could barely contain his excitement.
One room boasts interactive screens where you can step inside the scenes. Whilst a more traditional, whimsical approach is used in another room, enocuraging you to write down a wish and hang it on the wishing tree. Looking at the twinkling lights I felt quite sentimental at this point, but Nova’s wish of a T-Rex and a doll soon had me giggling again.
My favourite touch has to be the tiny doorway. I don’t want to spoil too much for you, but make sure you bend down to peep through it. The attention to detail is incredible.
And of course, the famous Alice is somewhere to be found. Kit was almost starstruck by her presence and it was a real treat to see her so excited.
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Tips for Alice in the Palace
- Book as early as possible. Tickets sell out really quickly, especially for weekend slots.
- If you have children allow 45-60-minutes for Alice in the Palace. Nova kept racing to the next room to find the rabbit, so you could allow a bit longer if you really want to soak it all up.
- Strip your hat, gloves, coat etc off as you enter the Palace. It’s nice and toasty inside.
- If you have a buggy it’s all flat and easily accessible inside the Palace (except for a few steps near the end). However, it does get busy inside so probably best to leave it if you can.
- Avoid bulky backpacks if you can. If not, you’ll be asked to remove it and carry it on your front.
Regardless of which ticket you opt for, you can also enjoy the Christmas experience right from the get go in the beautiful courtyard. You don’t need a separate ticket for this bit.
There’s a Victorian carousel, a helter skelter, and a few other small traditional rides. You’ll also find a few stalls selling food and drinks, including mulled wine and cider.
This courtyard leads to a wide open space that’s filled with wooden cabins selling all kinds of beautiful crafts, gifts and food. From loaded fries to jewellery, the Christmas Market is a lovely spot. And it’s made even lovelier as the backdrop is the stunning Blenheim Palace.
Tips for the Courtyard
- Shopping with young children is usually a bit of a challenge so I’d recommend saving any shopping for the end of your visit when they may have fallen asleep. It also means you don’t have to carry any bags round with you.
- That said, be aware of the earlier close time (1830) of the market on 25-27 November and 2-3 December.
- There’s also a gift shop in the courtyard if you need more presents.
- Buy a drink and/or food here to enjoy on the Trail. Apart from one little drinks caravan near the start of the trail you won’t find anything else until you’re about half way round.
- The queues for food can get quite long, so if you have hungry little ones send a friend/partner to race to the queue.
- Bring cash for the rides or buy tokens online (or have your excuse at the ready!) as there’s an extra charge.
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When is the Blenheim Palace Christmas Event?
This year it runs from 20 November 2020 – 3 January 2021.
Tickets and Prices
Tickets often sell out for both events, so you’ll need to book ahead. When you book you’ll need to choose a timed slot. I’d recommend as early as possible with little ones so that they’re not too tired. We usually book the first slot. My two manage to stay up for it, but usually fall asleep as soon as they get in the car to come home.
If you have an Annual Pass it’s free, but you will need to book a timed slot.
For the trail, adult tickets are £18, under 5s are free, and children aged 5-16 are £12.50.
For the palace, adult tickets are £27, under 5s are free, and children aged 5-16 are £16.
You can get up to 10% off when you buy a combined ticket (Alice in the Palace and the Illuminated Trail). And you can get a discounted family ticket (2 adults and 2 children).
You can check availability and buy tickets here.
Where is Blenheim Palace?
Blenheim Palace, Oxford Road, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP
Blenheim Palace is in Oxfordshire. It’s about an hour or so away from Northampton, Milton Keynes, and Bedfordshire.
Want to make a trip out of it? There are some really lovely ‘Blenheim Palace hotels’ nearby, mainly in Woodstock. The hardest decision will be deciding which one to go for!
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