Alicia Approved Column
There’s nothing I love more than Christmas – if I could bottle the season’s magic, I would.
But I’ve recently become disillusioned at the commerciality of it all.
My memories could be rose-tinted, but I feel nostalgic for the spectacular Christmases of my childhood.
As a self-confessed elf, I make it my mission to visit every festive event within reachable distance of my beloved MK, and consider myself quite the authority on what the season has to offer.
But I’d never visited Waddesdon Manor, which is only 20 miles away from us. What an error!
Built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885, Waddesdon Manor welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
Every Christmas, the house and its grounds are transformed for the season.
And I can now tell you that Waddesdon is where the charm of Christmases gone by has been hiding. The house is beautiful but, adorned for Christmas, it’s incredible.
Huge, lavish trees are lit up, jewelled and sparking – our two-year-old, Henry, was transfixed.
For little ones, there’s a gingerbread trail and friendly staff hand out stickers when they find the gingerbread men on the trees, which Henry loved. It got our day off to a great start.
Next up was the Christmas fair – a bustling, log cabin market lit up with fairy lights. It was how Christmas markets should be – stall after stall of unusual, beautiful and tempting treats and a heart-warming atmosphere.
It’s foodie heaven, with lots of food and drink samples to try. We indulged in pulled pork in brioche buns with winter ‘slaw and s’mores and Hershey’s chocolate in Grahams Crackers.
We also enjoyed a Bailey’s hot chocolate as we walked round feeling super festive in the frosty weather.
The snacks weren’t cheap but were worth every penny. There’s also a pop-up yuletide shop and an unbelievable Waddesdon gingerbread house.
The detail is staggering and it used 216kg of icing and 240 eggs. On our way out, we caught the new four-minute, spectacular dazzle@waddesdon rainbow light and sound show, which lit up the house and gardens.
Henry’s nap meant he missed out on the aviary and woodland playground, which he would have loved. But he’d had a blast anyway – and enjoyed watching the Midland Bernese Carters dogs pulling along festively decorated carts. E
verything was brilliantly organised. Parking is chaperoned, then you hop on one of the frequent buses to get to the action.
You get a time slot for the house so you can plan your day around it, and there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and pit stops to choose from.
At weekends, there are special events such as choirs and the opportunity for children to make a felt Christmas tree.
Tickets are £10 per adult and £5 for children over five, or family tickets are £25. It sounds pricey but you could make a whole day of it, and there’s something for everyone.
The market beats nearby rivals, such as Winter Wonderland and Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, hands down.
We’ll definitely return next year – and we’ve got our eye on the summer Feast Festival, too.
The whole experience was magically festive and I highly recommend it.
The Christmas fair ends on December 11 and the house will be dressed until January 2. Book tickets at waddesdon.org.uk