Waddesdon Manor is one of our favourite NT properties, which we visit throughout the year. However, when we visited in Christmas 2021, I was so disappointed that we did not go back in 2022 and this year was also not on the plan but curiosity got the better of me and here we are !
As always, I would recommend you take the shuttle bus up from the car park, otherwise you will have to walk 20 minutes up the hill from the car park in the chilly, frosty, evening air. The last thing you’d want is to commence the evening with tired and moaning kids. The bus runs roughly every fifteen minutes, needs to be booked in advance and is separately charged (which is annoying), but its a small price to pay for a better start to the evening (in my opinion). Also, don’t forget to visit the loo before boarding the bus (or you may regret it later).
The facade of Waddesdon Manor is transformed into a mesmerizing spectacle through specially crafted projections by the renowned artist Jamie Shiels. These projections weave festive scenes inspired by classic tales, incorporating unique treasures from Waddesdon’s collection and breathing life into the Manor’s extraordinary architecture. This was a definite improvement from the last time we came and the best part of the event.
The illuminated trail goes around the aviary. While it has its moments in the form of the glowing orbs, 3D birds, disco balls in the woodland, aurora style overhead illumination, tunnel with changing lights. and glowing Christmas tree, most of the trail is lit up trees and pavements. It is pretty, no doubt about it, but I expected a bit from Waddesdon if I am honest. The trail takes no longer than 20-30 minutes even at fast pace. There are tap boxes that lets you change the colour of the Manor’s South Front, which was a big hit with Ay and other children. I also liked the shooting stars on that side.
If you want to check out the Manor House, you have to book it separately, and yeah, it costs extra. But, it was actually pretty good inside. I loved to see so many middle aged volunteers, all smiles and trying to chat up the little ones. The inside is a trip into three different fairy tales. You step into Alice in Wonderland, hang out at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, visit the Snow Queen’s kingdom (and peek through the cool magic mirror), and then you get to fly with Peter Pan to Neverland. There’s Captain Hook’s treasure trove and a crocodile that’s into watches. The attention to detail in the rooms is amazing. Ay couldn’t believe they used broken plates for decorations in the Snow Queen’s kingdom. One of the volunteers also informed us that children can find a gold book in every room, which kept Ay busy for a bit.
As before, the Christmas fair involves wooden chalets lining up the walkways towards the manor. While this adds to the festive atmosphere, it is important to note that the Christmas market is only available until December 17th this year. There are a few food stalls but not much in term of variety and no Halal options, which was disappointing. We totally missed the bits in the Stable house, sign posting could also be improved I think.
The price has gone up again this year. NT members get about 50% discount, but, just for comparison, it cost me 5- 7.5£ in 2021 (as an NT member), but it is more than double the price now (13.5£ without the Manor and 18.50£ with the Manor). thats a whopping increase!! The facade illuminations are the best part in my opinion and I also loved the Manor House decorations (but it costs extra to go inside). The light trail is good but underwhelming and certainly not amazing value for money when you compare it to other light trails (especially if you are not NT members). Also, it looks like there won’t be any free January admission for members either.
If you’re coming with your kids, I’d recommend arriving earlier when it’s still light. Let them have a good time playing and exploring the grounds and the playground. After that, as it gets dark, you can enjoy the light trail. That way, you can avoid the chilly nights.There are also not many food options, especially for kids, so you can go back to a good dinner 🙂
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📅Wed 22 Nov – Mon 1 Jan 2024, Wed-Sun plus Mon 1 Jan
Christmas Fair 22 Nov – 17 Dec
🗺 Address: Waddesdon Manor, HP18 0JH
🎟 Ticket price applies. Pre-booking admission is essential for all visitors to the grounds and house, including National Trust members. Please see website for more details
🚘 Free parking but shuttle up the hill is charged (2.5£ adult, 1.5£ child)
🚻 Toilets and baby facilities on site
🍕 Refreshments available
🐕 Dogs allowed with code of conduct
🦽 Buggy accessible but if you plan to walk from the carpark, then it is up hill with various steep climbs. Try to get a shuttle, which need to be booked in advance and is separately chargeable.
🧺 Picnic allowed
We visit Waddesdon often. Here are our OTHER posts from previous visits: