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REVIEW | Christmas at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

5th December 2018

When I was invited to visit Christmas at Chatsworth House I was genuinely over the moon. With the big change in family dynamics this year (jumping from a family of three to five), I really wanted to do something special for Emily. Recently turning four, she’s at the age to get super excited about Christmas, so doing something memorable to kick-start our festive celebrations was important to me.

chatsworth

Chatsworth House might not be on the radar for some Yorkshire folk. Quite rightly so, since it’s actually in Derbyshire. But a mere 30 min drive from Sheffield city centre brings you to the grand doorsteps of the house and it is, without a doubt, worth the trip. I’ve been to Chatsworth House once before, so had an idea of what to expect at Christmas; large trees, loads of baubles, sparkly lights and a big load of festive spirit; I suppose what you get at lots of stately homes this time of year. But Chatsworth exceeded my expectations by a long way.

Grandparents in tow, we arrived in the grounds bustling with activity due to the fantastic Christmas market (which FYI finishes on the 4th December, so definitely one to earmark for next year). A quick pit-stop in the Carriage House café to milk up the babies and pop them into slings (buggies aren’t allowed in the house), then we hot-footed to the house.

I’m not going to lie to you, if you visit Chatsworth at Christmas it will be busy, and it’s best to book your tickets with a time slot in advance. But there is a reason why it’s busy. It is absolutely amazing. How the heck I didn’t know they had a theme each year baffles me. But this year’s “Once upon a time at Chatsworth” was an ingenious way to capture the spirit of all ages, bringing to life timeless fairy tales using the house as a canvas.

chatsworth

I don’t want to indulge in too much detail about the rooms, because the naivety of what you will encounter completely makes the experience. But what I can say is that Chatsworth has taken an already beautiful building and made it into something enchanting this Christmas, captivating the adolescence of us all. It hooked the attention of my die-hard Disney fan, yet my parents in their 60’s were also engrossed in the magic. The quest to solve each room’s task and find the hidden baby dragons made Emily so excited she didn’t know what to do with herself. She wanted to absorb each and every detail, but at the same time move onto the next room to see what would be on show. It was truly enjoyable to see her utterly engrossed and excited by what the house had to offer.

It was obvious there had been a lot of thought put into how the rooms interlinked, so there never felt like a lull. With ease, it kept the attention span of our wide-ranging audience, but it was clear that it was winning the hearts of everyone there. Decadent decorations, beautiful lighting and enormous trees… even the opportunity to make a wish and hang it to a tree (which FYI, Emily’s deep and meaningful wish was to have a Buzz Lightyear for Christmas) was a nice touch to keep us engaged.

chatsworth

Emily loved the Mary Poppins room. Chatsworth was able to depict the children’s bedroom beautifully and she tried desperately to click her fingers in hope of seeing dolls hopping back into the toy box. Despite failing (obviously), she really was captivated with the whole experience from the moment she entered the house. The choice of stories really made it appealing to all ages. I was unexpectedly delighted to see such creativity and thought put into curating a truly enchanting experience.

It really kicked off our Christmas in style, and can’t thank Chatsworth enough for having us. But what really made my heart sing was the family ticket for FIVE!!! So refreshing to see a major tourist attraction offer a significant saving on a family ticket, and it will be without a doubt become an annual Christmas treat once my little girls are out of nappies and able to enjoy the experience like Emily did this year.

If you are going to indulge in a Christmas experience this year that doesn’t involve a tedious queue for Santa, definitely put Chatsworth at the top of your list. Christmas at Chatsworth is on until the 6th January.

Ticket details and opening hours can be found at www.chatsworth.org

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