The UK’s most magical stately homes for Christmas holiday cottages

The UK’s most magical stately homes for Christmas

Julie Smith 03 November 2023

From Christmas markets to winter wonderlands, there is plenty of festive fun to be had in towns and cities throughout the UK. In fact, with so many Christmas events taking place around the UK it can be tricky to know which are the best ones to try and visit during the festive season. 

It’s hard to beat the magic of a stately home or grand country estate that’s all dressed up for Christmas with themed installations, huge Christmas trees, illuminated walks and lavishly decorated rooms.

To help you find the best stately homes to visit for Christmas, Gorgeous Cottages has used a number of different factors to rate which ones will add the most sparkle to your festive season. 

The UK’s 10 best stately homes for Christmas

Decorated Christmas tree in a stately home

Many stately homes are open for at least six weeks, giving you plenty of time to get into the festive spirit. We have used factors such as decorations, Santa's grottos, illuminated walks and whether they offer things like a festive afternoon tea and a Christmas market, to compile the list of the best stately homes to visit this year.

The grand estates were also rated on the number of Instagram hashtags for their festive experiences, whether or not they have been featured on TV and the percentage of TripAdvisor reviews that mention Christmas.

Castle Howard

Montage of Castle Howard at Christmas

Castle Howard is a sprawling stately home that’s located on the edge of the North York Moors and it certainly goes all out for Christmas with a choice of Santa’s grottos, a special marquee with festive stalls and spectacularly decorated rooms.

This year’s theme is Peter Pan and the experience will be magical from start to finish for any boy and girl that has never quite grown up. Look out for the Bauble Emporium, theatrical installations and a huge decorated Christmas Tree in the Great Hall.

Need to know:

  • When: 11 November to 7 January
  • Where: Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire

Known as Britain’s Greatest Palace and still owned by the Churchill family, it’s no surprise that Blenheim Palace is one of the country’s finest places to visit for Christmas. The theme this year is Sleeping Beauty and each room will tell a different chapter of the story.

There’s also a Christmas Market in the Great Court with wooden chalets selling festive fayre and an illuminated light trail with colour cascades, heart-shaped arches and an 8' sphere filled with 20,000 moving lights.     

Need to know:

  • When: 17 November-1 January
  • Where: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, OX20 1PP


Close up of a decorated Christmas tree branch at Chatsworth House

Located on the banks of the River Derwent in the heart of the Peak District, Chatsworth House is one of the UK’s most popular stately homes with regal state rooms, the exquisite Painted Hall and a stunning art collection for visitors to enjoy. 

Twenty-four of the grand rooms will be decorated for Christmas as part of the Palace of Advent experience with Chatsworth itself transformed into a giant advent calendar thanks to an animated light show that’s best experienced after dark.

Need to know:

  • When: 4 December-7 January
  • Where: Chatsworth, Bakewell, DE45 1PP

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle next to the River Avon

The wonderful Warwick Castle is set within 64 acres of grounds and has a history that dates back more than 1,000 years. The Christmas at the Castle event makes the most of the spectacular setting near the River Avon with an open-air ice rink and a dazzling light trail. 

There’s a collection of Christmas food stalls where you can toast marshmallows and sip on hot chocolate before heading into the state dining room for an Elf Workshop and settling down in the library for Stories with Santa.

Need to know: 

  • When: 25 November-7 January
  • Where: Warwick Castle, Warwick, CV34 6AU 

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor lit up for Christmas

Waddesdon Manor was built in the style of a French Renaissance chateau by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the late 19th century. The grand rooms at this special country estate are filled with royal treasures and lavishly decorated for Christmas.

The festive displays this year are inspired by Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and the Snow Queen with animated projections turning Waddesdon Manor into a real-life fairytale castle. There’s also a light trail through the gardens and a Christmas Fair taking place in the grounds. 

Need to know:

  • When: 22 November-1 January
  • Where: Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Aylesbury HP18 0JH


 Longleat illuminated for Christmas

Although it’s probably best known for the amazing animals in Britain’s number one safari park, at the heart of Longleat is a grand Elizabethan stately home surrounded by formal gardens and Capability Brown-designed grounds.

Christmas at Longleat is centred around a spectacular lantern festival in the grounds with giant displays inspired by Narnia. There’s also a 15-metre-tall, illuminated, singing Christmas tree, a Santa Train to whisk you around the grounds and special festive tours of Longleat House.

Need to know:

  • When: 11 November-7 January
  • Where: Longleat, Warminster, BA12 7NW

Hever Castle

Nutcrakers at Hever Castle

The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle is nestled within 125 acres of grounds with tricky mazes to tackle and a glorious lake where you can spot kingfishers, swans and herons. The festive period sees the castle and grounds illuminated with a magical Christmas Lights show.

Other attractions at the castle’s Lost in the Festive Forest event include a traditional fairground with carousel rides, boat trips on the lake, a Santa's grotto and decorated rooms that are kept toasty and warm by roaring log fires.   

Need to know:

  • When: 18 November-1 January
  • Where: Hever Rd, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG

Tatton Park

Tatton Hall view from Tatton Park

This sprawling historic estate in Cheshire is home to the Tatton Hall country house along with a medieval manor house, deer park and gorgeous formal gardens. Tatton Park is transformed into a winter wonderland for Christmas and this year the theme is Alice in Wonderland.

You can follow in the footsteps of Alice as she goes down the rabbit hole into the Queen of Heart’s grand palace and finds herself at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. There’s also a garden adventure with live music, fire juggling and a special festive trail to follow. 

Need to know: 

  • When: 21 November-31 December 
  • Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford, WA16 6SG

Kenwood House

Kenwood House and grounds

Located on the edge of Hampstead Heath, Kenwood is managed by English Heritage and best known for a world-renowned collection of paintings including works by Rembrandt, Turner and Gainsborough. 

The beautiful manor house is illuminated as part of Christmas at Kenwood with an enchanted light trail that you can follow around the grounds. Festive food and drink adds to the Christmas spirit as you take in the thousands of twinkling lights.

Need to know:

  • When: 1 December-1 January
  • Where: Kenwood House, Hampstead Ln, London NW3 7JR 

Doddington Hall

The Bauble Barn at Doddington Hall 

This Lincolnshire Elizabethan prodigy house is going to be beautifully decorated for Christmas with scenes from The 12 Days of Christmas specially created by Doddington Hall staff as well as local artists and students from Lincolnshire College.

Explore displays over three floors of Doddington Hall, pick out your perfect tree in the outdoor Christmas tree yard then visit the Bauble Barn where you can browse an assortment of decorations from around the world.  

Need to know:

  • When: 18 November-22 December
  • Where: Doddington Hall & Gardens, Main Street, Doddington, Lincoln, LN6 4RU 

Plan a perfect Christmas together

Station House decorated for Christmas 

For even more festive inspiration, take a look at this range of Yorkshire Christmas markets you can visit in December and browse our selection of luxury holiday cottages for a 5-star Christmas with family and friends.


Data was collected in November by analysing a number of factors for more than 70 stately homes. Categories used in the analysis were decorations, Santa's grottos, illuminated walks, festive afternoon tea, Christmas markets, Instagram hashtags, festive experiences, TV features and TripAdvisor reviews. These ranking factors were then scored to find the ultimate top ten.   

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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