When it comes to festive experiences, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, offers the cream of the Christmas crop.
Every year the National Trust Property near Aylesbury is extravagantly decked and transformed into a seasonal work of art, but this year the florists and design team have really excelled themselves. The house interior has to be one of the best yet, there’s an extraordinary light and sound show on the building fascia and the most magical market in wooden chalets.
The theme for this year’s decorations, Enchanted Menagerie, celebrates the weird and wonderful animals that can be seen throughout Waddesdon’s collections, from an elephant parade inspired by the 18th-century musical automaton to a life-sized zebra and trees decked with colourful birds and mythical beasts! There’s a strong link between inside and out this year, with creatures being carried through all visual installations. From dusk, a light and sound show Waddesdon Imaginarium, created by video design students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, is projected onto the Manor’s ornate façade. Inspired by the architecture, gardens and history of Waddesdon, objects in the collections have been 3D scanned and transformed into detailed animations. There are roaming porcelain animals, dancing musical clocks, fluttering clouds of butterflies and moths and 18th-century portraits creating a fantastical visual story of Waddesdon.
In the garden, light art by American artist Lauren Booth (Electric Menagerie) winds from the Aviary to the Stables, illuminating the Rothschilds’ passion for natural history with neon goats, parrots and even a flea circus.
Merchandise in the shop echoes the displays with creatures great and small featuring in tree decoration collections and interior accessories plus a host of stylish, great value buys that make ideal gifts. Go prepared to get some Christmas shopping in the bag here and at the market where 80 local artisan producers and national independent traders are selling an outstanding selection of high-quality, unique gifts, decorations, crafts and food in an avenue of delightful wooden chalets. This is one of the best Christmas markets you will find in this country. If you fail to book a slot in the house, head to Waddesdon for the garden art, light and sound show and the market – it is very likely to be a 2017 Christmas highlight.
Until 2 January 2018, Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm Also open Mon 31 Dec and Tue 1 Jan. Closed 24, 25 & 26 December
Christmas Market runs until 10 December.
Garden £10/£5 Free to NT members, House £15
Book on 01296 820414 or at www.waddesdon.org.uk
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, HP18 0JH www.waddesdon.org.uk