By Beth Windsor If you think getting your decorations up is a marathon – imagine how it is for those unpacking the decs in Yorkshire’s big houses.We look at what our favourites will be wowing us with this year.

Great British Life: Castle Howard. (c) Charlotte GrahamCastle Howard. (c) Charlotte Graham

Castle Howard, nr York

A holiday highlight for many, Castle Howard continues to wow visitors year upon year with its mind-blowingly imaginative displays that manage to transport all those who visit back to cherished childhood memories of Christmases long ago. As always, the magic starts long before you reach the house, with a drive of brightly lit Christmas trees leading the way to a magical adventure. Step into the courtyard and discover Santa’s grotto where Story Craft Theatre perform a short show full of Christmas joy. A fantasy land awaits inside the house, as does another opportunity to meet Father Christmas surrounded by festive splendour. Enhance your experience by taking the Darlings’ Afternoon Tea before picking up a special memento in the Bauble Emporium. Get creative by booking into a wreath making workshop or just take things slowly by toasting marshmallows in the twinkly courtyard.

New this year – As always, Castle Howard’s main house will be transformed into a world of enchantment and wonder. This year, visitors will take flight on a Peter Pan-themed odyssey in Christmas in Neverland which comes to life with beautiful decorations, installations, and projections. CLW Event Design, the creative team behind Christmas in Narnia and Into the Woods: A Fairytale Christmas, have worked tirelessly with tinsel, got busy with baubles, and captured their creativity to bring you an experience like no other. Get lost on a magical adventure in Neverland with fairies, mermaids, and pirates. Vast ships will cruise into Castle Howard’s great galleries, Lost Boy-laughter will echo through its halls, and beautiful rooms will transform into tropical lagoons. Follow the boy that never grew up into a fantastical festive world with beautiful theatrical installations, stunning projections and immersive soundscapes bringing JM Barrie’s much-loved story and characters to life. With planning beginning in January for the Christmas installation and a team of 25 creatives working together to bring it to life, many working off site for several months, you know to expect something spectacular. To learn more about the work that goes into creating such a spectacle, be sure to book onto one of the guided tours with the designers themselves.

November 11 – January 7

Great British Life: Harewood. (c) Tom ArberHarewood. (c) Tom Arber

Harewood House, nr Leeds

A firm favourite amongst those near and far, visiting Harewood’s grand halls has become a tradition for many come Christmastime. The excitement commences as soon as you reach the entrance with the main gate wrapped up in a big red bow, ready for you to unwrap the present that lies within. Strings of festoon lights lead the way down the sweeping drive towards a house filled with treasures and treats. There’s plenty of magic to be found here, from the enchanting grounds filled with twinkling lights to the delicious afternoon tea full of festive flavours grown in the Harewood estate. Do something a bit different this year and have a go at making your Christmas gifts with one of the many workshops from talented makers sharing their unique crafts. Or treat yourself and indulge in some splendid shopping opportunities.

New this year – It’s always with great anticipation that we wait to find out what theme will take over the house, and we were excited to find out that this year visitors will experience Harewood’s Great Time Travelling Christmas. Visitors will be transported through Christmases of all eras, evoking the nostalgia of celebrations past, festive pop culture, and imagining a Christmas of the future. Harewood’s State Floor will be transformed with space-race-inspired decorations from the 50s, disco balls and 80s music in the Music Room, to the remnants of a 90s festive party in the Library. Having been in the making since last Christmas, the team at Studio Mutt have worked tirelessly for over two weeks to bring the creation to life. Their aim was to recreate the nostalgia of Christmas from your gran’s decorations to that 90s Christmas disco, visitors can expect a heap of fun and plenty of surprises along the way. Our favourite has to be the reimagined, futuristic Christmas dinner, with drone-delivered presents and fluorescent turkeys. And from November 25 – December 24, younger visitors to Harewood can experience The Adventures of Peppermint, which tells the story of Peppermint the elf, who fell into a magical, icy world and must be brought back in time to help Father Christmas deliver all the presents. Little ones are invited to create an image of what they think their Christmas will look like in 3000 years, as well as popping into the Bakehouse for some festive crafts.

November 8 – January 7

Great British Life: Grantley Hall. (c) Tom SykesGrantley Hall. (c) Tom Sykes

Grantley Hall, nr Ripon

If you’re aiming to do Christmas in style this year, then look no further than the AA’s Hotel of the Year – Grantley Hall. Set amidst elegant grounds on the outskirts of Ripon, ascend the twinkling tree-lined drive as you’re welcomed by the picture-perfect sight of the hall dressed in all its festive finery. A traditional yet grand display meets you in the main hall but move through the hotel and you’ll discover a wintery wonderland. These beautiful displays are the work of Gift Shop Manager, Shelley Leslie, and Guest Quality Standards Manager, Marek Jurczyk. Embrace the winter season by going full Alpine in the Orchard with their après experience or embrace the snow room in the spa. Personally, you’ll find us enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie in an armchair by the fire in the Norton Bar. There’s plenty of ways to celebrate the season here, from indulging in a festive afternoon tea in the Drawing Room to a sumptuous champagne lunch.

New this year – ‘Tis the season to celebrate, so why not do it in style at one of the jazz nights in Valeria’s Champagne and Cocktail Bar. If you’re looking escape the hustle and bustle this time of year brings, then book onto one of the Sunday sessions and relax to live music in the alpine surroundings of the Orchard. Book onto a workshop and wow your guests by learning how to create the ultimate floral arrangement or luxury wreath with Jonathan Moseley.

November 22 onwards

Great British Life: Goldsborough Hall. (c) Clare OglesbyGoldsborough Hall. (c) Clare Oglesby

Goldsborough Hall, Knaresborough

A cherished family home that is steeped in history and heritage, experience the magic of a place that was once home to Princess Mary in the 1920s. Originally built to entertain, houses like this come alive during the festive season as fires are lit and merriment fills the vast rooms. Come and view the beautifully adorned Christmas trees and trimmings that fill the house by booking in for a festive afternoon tea or lunch, take a tour, or have a go at making your own Christmas wreath.

New this year – Come and enjoy an evening of swing with Dan Graham as he sings all your well-loved Michael Bublé songs on December 16. The evening will be filled with fizz, fun, entertainment, and all the trimmings.

Great British Life: Middlethorpe Hall. (c) National TrustMiddlethorpe Hall. (c) National Trust

Middlethorpe Hall, nr York

Immerse yourself in a traditional Christmas at this elegant William and Mary country house on the outskirts of York. Expect all the Christmas trimmings full of natural foliage and delightful decorations alongside twinkling lights and roaring fires which bring this house to life.

New this year – Treat yourself to a luxurious three-night break house-party style where you will be treated to champagne receptions, carolling, sumptuous dinners, midnight mass, a buck’s fizz breakfast, the King’s speech served with mince pies, and even a black-tie jazz dinner.

Great British Life: Nunnington. (c) National TrustNunnington. (c) National Trust

Nunnington Hall, nr York

Feel right at home as you step into the seasonal surroundings of the hall this Christmastime. Having had a full festive makeover, wander around this rural manor house to get a feel for what Christmas was like in times gone by. Visit on a Sunday to enjoy Christmas carols in the Oak Hall sung by a local choir.

New this year – Embark on a journey through the ages and prepare to wrap yourself in the rich tapestry of Christmas traditions as you get a glimpse of what Christmas may have been like for the families who once lived here. Travel back in time and step into the opulence of the Georgian era, sample the splendour of the Victorian golden age, witness a Tudor feast, or relive the exuberant 1980s parties. Get into the party spirit yourself and visit on one of the Festive Evenings where the candles glow and decorations look enchanting. It’s the perfect opportunity to sip on a mulled wine while listening to the choir around the firepit.

November 24 – December 17 (Friday-Sunday)

Great British Life: Christmas at Nostell (c) National TrustChristmas at Nostell (c) National Trust

Nostell, nr Wakefield

The fires are lit, seasonal music sounds, and trees twinkle as this magnificent Georgian treasure house near Wakefield prepares for Christmastime. Open on select days throughout the festive period, come and see Nostell looking magical, but be sure to keep an eye out for someone special while you’re there. See if you can spot Santa as he walks around the house, or maybe you’ll catch him having a snooze by the fire.

What’s new – Step into a fantastical fairytale this year where each room features a sprinkling of magic from stories such as Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. Even the Doll’s House has been dressed with all the Christmas trimmings, but beware – the mischievous fairies from the garden trail have their eyes on this miniature house for themselves!

Great British Life: Treasurer's HouseTreasurer's House

Treasurer’s House, York

Seek out Treasurer’s House this festive season, nestled behind York Minster, for some yuletide magic. Peek into the period rooms where 1920s design elements mingle with modern touches to create a timeless Christmas. The stunning Christmas displays have been put together by a group of dedicated volunteers, with many of the unique decorations handmade by the team themselves.

New this year – The amazing travel stories found in Frank Green’s journal form the inspiration behind this year’s festive offering at Nostell – Gifts from Afar. Expect the unexpected as his far flung and often far-fetched tales come to life before you. There’s smuggling, suitcases, bears and Bovril! The Blue Drawing Room hosts a festive French soiree while Greece showcases how it does Christmas. Be sure to drop by one of the Wonders of the World in what is Nostell’s most ambitious and creative installation yet.

November 13 – December 17

Bankfield Museum, Halifax

The former mansion of worsted manufacturer, Edward Akroyd, now acts as a free museum telling the tale of Halifax and the surrounding areas. Open throughout the year Tuesday to Saturday, the museum is decked out in festive flourishes to make you feel merry. The Christmas Craft Fair will be returning on December 9 as they welcome a range of traders from the region for a day of shopping and festive fun.

New this year – Take a trip down the new Festive Family Trail to see what delights you can find along the way. Join watercolour artist Jane Austin on December 2 for a workshop on how to create your own Christmas image of a natural wreath made into a pretty card or picture. Be sure to explore the interesting exhibitions also on show from The History Wardrobe Collection of Lucy Adlington to the watercolours of Jane Austin in ‘Three Miles From Home’.

Sewerby Hall, Bridlington

A firm family favourite, the Sewerby Winter Woodland is back once again. Take a mystical stroll through the enchanted woodland as you embark on a Magical Christmas Rescue full of twinkling lights and special effects. End your experience in the courtyard where an array of food and drink will be waiting for you.

New this year – Take a different route this year to meet a whole host of new characters. Mischievous elves have accidentally dropped a sack of presents while flying over Sewerby and the team need your help to recover them. The kind fairy atop the Christmas tree has sprinkled her magic over the woods illuminating them with a captivating display of colours, glitters, and twinkles, and some special encounters that you’ll discover along the way. Inside the house, The Nutcracker exhibition awaits you, while Christmas craft stalls outside invite you to tick off some of your Christmas shopping.

December 8-22

Simonstone Hall, Hawes

This characterful country hotel in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales is ready to wow you with its fabulous festive interiors foraged from nearby woodlands. Full of yuletide trimmings, soak up the joyous atmosphere by the roaring fire as you sip on a mulled wine and nibble at some mince pies. Plan your Christmas party or book in for a special stay during the festive season.

New this year – Santa pays a visit on December 3 during the Christmas Gift & Craft Fair which welcomes a whole host of local artisan producers. There’ll be plenty of mulled wine and festive foods to enjoy while you do your Christmas shopping. Local florist ‘Feather & Fern’ will be hosting a wreath making class on December 9 which includes an arrival drink and all materials to make a wonderful wreath to hang upon your door.

Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham

A place full of history and intrigue, Wenworth Woodhouse is the perfect setting to let your imagination run wild this Christmas. The house will be dressed in all its festive finery to help get you in the spirit and celebrate this joyful time of year. As always, there’ll be plenty of treats from chalets serving mulled wine and mince pies to the ‘go-all-out’ experience of a festively themed afternoon tea.

New this year – An abandoned mansion has become enchanted from a spell and overtaken by nature, can you help break it to restore laughter and life to the vast halls and gardens? In this visitor-led experience, A Tale as Old as Time takes you on a journey throughout the State Rooms and West Front Gardens. Can you help the inhabitants of the house harness the power of the surviving camellia flowers to bring everything back to life? In the day you can wander through the dressed State Rooms, followed by experiencing the magical Garden Light Trail through the Acer Wood come late afternoon. Light Trail only tickets are also available.

November 28 – January 7

Rudding Park, Harrogate

The fires are roaring, each tree is dressed, carols can be heard from the church, and there’s been a sighting of Santa Claus. Christmas at Rudding Park is a special affair with a beautiful array of joyful events to see you through the season from snowy spa days to festive flicks – there’s plenty of partying to be had.

New this year – Rudding have partnered up with Harrogate-based company Lights4Fun to create a magical experience – Follow the Christmas Stars – that invites guests to explore parts of the grounds in gorgeous illuminations. Known for their love of all things celestial, it was only right that the theme be star-based to match their Stargazing and Twilight Spa experiences. As night descends upon the award-winning hotel, make your way through enchanting illuminations as stars, golden rings and reindeers lead the way.

Fairfax House, York

A TownMouse Christmas is back this year with double the magic and double the mice! Causing even more mayhem and mischief, find the mousey guests swinging from the ceiling, bursting out of drawers, and causing general havoc whilst they play amongst the festive Georgian decor. In true 18th-century style, the house will be dressed magnificently with festive foliage – so don’t miss this wonderful wintertime display celebrating the Christmas traditions of the Georgian townhouse, and the jolly festivities of the Georgian town-mouse.

November 11 – January 4


Lotherton Hall, nr Leeds

The Christmas Experience at Lotherton is back! Expect more magic than ever before with seasonal sensations – Santa and Mrs Claus. Go on a magical journey through the enchanting world of Christmas as you explore the new-look, snow-filled North Pole. There’s crafting to be done in the Elf Village, Christmas Traditions along the Woodland Walk, and hot chocolate to be had in the twinkling gardens. And don’t forget to marvel at Lotherton’s splendour in the great Hall before viewing the festive stalls on a weekend.

November 25 – January 7


Burton Agnes Hall, Driffield

Come and see the house decorated with original, handmade decorations, many of which have been crafted from flowers and foliage then cropped and dried from the walled garden. Explore the woodland behind the house to discover the trails of giant, hand-carved candy canes. Little ones can hunt out a handmade felt snowman doll hidden in each room by the Cunliffe-Lister children. Be inspired by the abundant joys of the season come nighttime when Christmas cheer flourishes as the fireplaces flow warmly, twinkly lights sparkle and the house comes aglow. Visit on December 14 for late night carols and mulled wine.

November 14 – December 23

Sledmere House, Driffield

Sledmere’s Magical Christmas Experience: The Great Reindeer Mystery invites the whole family to come down this holiday season for some festive fun. On this actor-led walk-through experience, the Rusticus Theatre Company will guide you through fun, interactive activities meeting charming Christmas characters before having the chance to see Santa himself. Meet the many animals in the Christmas Village, choose a present at the Elf Toyshop, and venture on a festive Tractor Ride to see a herd of Red Deer.

Select dates from November 25 – December 22

Burton Constable, nr Hull

Lift your spirits for the festive season ahead when you visit this charming country house at Christmas. In what is set to be a fascinating visit, meander upstairs and downstairs through the 30 evocative rooms filled with fine art and furniture. See the place transformed by seasonal floral displays, stunning decorations and gorgeous garlands. Children will enjoy experiencing the magic of the Hall at its twinkling best when searching for the Christmas reindeer hidden in each room.

November 25 – December 20

Brodsworth Hall, nr Doncaster

Experience this festive season amongst the historical surroundings of Brodsworth Hall. Take the family to see the main man himself when you book in to Festive Stories with Father Christmas. Sit amongst the traditional decorations as he recounts seasonal tales that are guaranteed to leave you feeling full of Christmas joy. There’s also the opportunity to book onto one of the Wreath Making Workshops using natural materials from the gardens.

Weekends from December 2 – 23

Carlton Towers, Goole

Dressed to delight this Christmastime, Carlton Towers has been welcoming visitors for over 800 years and with an array of festive events, it’s clear to see why. The halls will be decked, festive music will be playing and the fires will be lit. Indulge in a Christmas Party Night, take the family for a Santa Sunday Lunch or treat yourself to a Wreath Making Workshop complete with mulled wine and mince pies. Spend a splendid evening at the Candlelit Choir & Jingles, enjoy a delightful Christmas Lunheon with Marina Mae, or have a relaxing Tea & Tour of the house at Christmastime.