Visiting Blenheim palace at Christmas time is a tradition. We have been going every year for the last 7 years, though we were lucky to received press passes last three years. It was getting a bit monotonous last two years, with only a few changes, so I was thinking of giving it a miss this year. I AM GLAD I DID NOT. Blenheim have certainly outdone themselves here. Its fresh, its revamped and has something that I only previously saw in Kew Garden. They have their own water show near the big lake/ waterfall. How cool!
There is no doubt the tickets are expensive, but you can see the thought and the pizzazz that goes into it and you always come out feeling happy and Christmassy!! If you just did the trail, the money is perhaps more reasonable, but the added advantage of booking it all, is that you can then convert your tickets to annual pass and enjoy coming over and over again! The interior is undoubtedly spectacular, but if you’re with young children, it’s perfectly fine to give it a miss. Doing both the interior and the trail in one go can be exhausting for them, and let’s face it, they’re not particularly interested in decorations. I used to worry that Ay would touch or accidentally bring something down when he was little. Moreover, the trail itself is lengthy, and with the chilly weather outside, it can be quite tiring for the little ones.
If you’re really enthusiastic about it and happen to have an annual pass, consider visiting in the morning when it’s less crowded, allowing you to savor the experience at a leisurely pace. As in previous years, access to the palace interior is free before 3.45 PM daily, except for the following days in December: Saturday 9th, Saturday 16th, Sunday 17th, Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24 (although parking fees apply after 10AM). I believe Blenheim could enhance the experience for annual pass holders by offering a more substantial discount for the trail, beyond the current £1 concession. They should also reconsider the £10 parking fee on top of the tickets, especially as Blenheim Palace is out in the country and most people will drive to it 🙁
That said, Christmas at Blenheim Palace is an incredible multi-sensory experience in the true spirit of Christmas. There is no reason NOT to love it! it is WOW, WOW AND JUST WOW!
The answer is ALOT! The route is different and includes the lake after many years of exclusion. There is a brilliantly choreographed water fountain and light show near the waterfall, well co-ordinated to amazing Christmas music. Each round lasts about 5 minutes I think, but we watched it a good few times. There is a small bar here where you can treat yourself to a hot chocolate and sit down on the benches to be mesmerised by the show.
You enter the trail via the courtyard of the palace to the formal gardens but instead of turning towards the palace like previous years, you follow the path towards the waterfall. Brace yourself for enchantment as you stroll through a tunnel adorned with changing stars, pass under heart-shaped and Christmas tree shaped arches, traverse the path by flickering flames, walk beneath lanterns, and stand next to an eight-meter sphere illuminated by an astounding 20,000 moving lights. I think Blenheim has got it right this time. It truly and magically captures the essence of Christmas and the indescribable feeling of the festive season. You can see Father Christmas near the end, who will happily pose with you for a photo (which you take yourself).
This route is continuous tarmac or gravelled paths, and has some steep inclines but is manoeuvrable with a buggy. I saw a couple of wheelchairs on the way. It took us about 1 hours to go through it. If I was on my own I would have taken longer but I was wary it was a school night and had to rush over some bits.
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The inside of the palace is themed differently each year and this time they have gone for the sleeping beauty story. Each room tells a different chapter in Sleeping Beauty’s story and of course there’s plenty of festive decorations including the gigantic Christmas Tree in The Great Hall.
On the way to Auroura’s magnificently candle-lit bed chamber with amazing laser show, you’ll wander through the Evil Fairy’s spooky wooded lair and into the castle frozen in time. It is a fairy-tale world with God knows how many gigantic beautifully decorated Christmas trees. Every single room is full of decorations and are OTT but they all blend beautifully with the magnificence of the palace. There is plenty to wow you, as you go around, the story delightfully unfolding with some illustrations to read as well. The kids also have to hunt for different things in each room. The attention to detail is astounding e.g. in the room where you have to find 10 sleeping animals, the fur of the animals is moving slowly. I actually thought the bunny was real, and I was not the only one!
The interior is undoubtedly spectacular, but if you’re with children, it’s perfectly fine to give it a miss. Doing both the interior and the trail in one go can be exhausting for them, and let’s face it, they’re not particularly interested in decorations. I used to worry that Ay would touch or accidentally bring something down when he was little. Moreover, the trail itself is lengthy, and with the chilly weather outside, it can be quite tiring for the little ones. If you’re really enthusiastic about it and happen to have an annual pass, consider visiting in the morning when it’s less crowded, allowing you to savor the experience at a leisurely pace.
The Christmas Market is in the courtyard of the palace. Their is a distinctive range of artisan products housed in wooden chalets, which are pricey (as expected). Entry to the Christmas Market is free before 4pm, providing you book parking in advance. Full entry is included with an Annual Pass or with your ticket to Christmas at Blenheim Palace, so you can enjoy the market before or after (or both) you’ve experienced the magic of the season on the light trail or within the Palace. The Market opens from 10.30am every day between 17th November – 17th December. Parking is advised to book in advance.
There is a small fairground at the entrance of the palace- Rides include Vintage Carousel, Helter Skelter, Swingboats and Car rides for smaller children
17th November 2023 – 1st January 2024
Adult pass holder trail only ticket: 25.50£ (+10£parking), child 18.50 £ (+1£ for non pass holders)
Adult pass holder palace entry only ticket (after 4 PM): 35£ (+10£parking), child 20£
Combi: Adults from £53.50 (+10£parking) Child from £33.50 (+1£ for non pass holders)
Entry to the Sleeping Beauty within the Palace is free to Annual Pass holders before 15.45. MY TOP TIP FOR ANNUAL PASS HOLDERS: go for the 3-4 PM slot for the palace (which will be free) and only pay for the illuminated trail if you want to do it all in one go!
There is plenty of parking on-site but needs to be pre-booked and is charged by £10 per car. Blue Badge parking is at Hensington.
Toilets and baby facilities on site
Refreshments available. Also, Sleeping beauty Themed Afternoon Tea served throughout Christmas in the recently reopened Orangery restaurant. Afternoon tea can be added at the end of the Christmas booking process, you will be required to have a valid Christmas at Blenheim Palace ticket to experience the Afternoon Tea.
Buggy accessible mostly but some terrain could be bumpy and challenging during wet weather.
No dogs allowed in the Palace or on Trail but dogs are allowed in the Great Court for the Market.