Forget the tinsel and the mince pies, winter at Harewood House has more than a few seasonal surprises up its sleeve.
Christmas has come to life in the most astonishing way at Harewood House. Step into the Grade I listed mansion this festive season and enter a wondrous world filled with secret doorways, singing statues and light-up ceilings. You may even be surprised by a teeny tiny guest or two tucked away in the cupboards! With twinkling twilight tours, gift-filled markets, luxurious afternoon teas and an invite to Father Christmas’ cottage to meet the big man himself, it’s an absolute must.
But where to begin? There’s no time like Christmas to inspire a bit of curiosity, and A Night at the Mansion is the perfect time to put yours to good use. All is quiet at Harewood House. Or is it? For six weeks only, you can take a rare peek inside the stunning Georgian building at this most wonderful time of the year. But be prepared, because you may end up embarking on a rather unexpected adventure!
For A Night at the Mansion, acclaimed Yorkshire artists Davy and Kristin McGuire have created something really rather special. Using intricate visual and audio projections, guests can lose themselves in a walk-through, immersive experience loaded with humour, emotion and a sleigh-load of magic. As you wander from the music room to the gallery, the library to the kitchen, the mansion’s secrets spring to life around you in the most captivating of ways. The chandelier is whispering, the statues are telling stories and the porcelains are bickering!
It’s enough to simply explore and gawp as the scenes unravel before you, but don’t leave your sense of adventure behind. Hidden behind doors and nestled away in cupboards, you may find a few unexpected surprises. No need to rush, you’re welcome to stay as long as you like – some rooms are even strewn with cushions, so you can get really comfy! Whimsical, mischievous and altogether enchanting, A Night at the Mansion is unlike anything else you’ll see this Christmas.
Want to enjoy the spectacle after dark? On Thursdays throughout December, Harewood House opens after-hours so a lucky few can enjoy an exclusive twilight tour of A Night at the Mansion. After your welcome glass of bubbly or mulled wine (and a mince pie, of course!) it’s time to soak up the charming experience with just a handful of others. What finer way to unlock the magic, long after the day’s crowds have gone home?
And that’s not all. Time your visit with the weekends of Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th or Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th December 2019, and you can pick up a sackful of lovely presents too! Harewood House’s festive market weekends champion handmade gifts from local producers and there are more stalls than you can shake a roll of wrapping paper at. Luxury Belgian chocolates, delicate jewellery, quirky pottery and household furnishings – you can even pick up an original illustration of the city’s skyline. Take that Christmas shopping list!
But what about treating yourself? On selected days in the run up to Christmas, Harewood’s Festive Afternoon Tea is just the indulgence you need. Dine on a mighty fine spread of savoury and sweet delights in the beautifully-dressed Billiard room. Each morsel comes with its own unique Christmas twist. Pork pie with cranberry topping? Mulled wine jellies? Snow-topped chocolate muffins? Traditional turkey and stuffing sarnies? You’ll be positively stuffed with Christmas joy by the end.
Little visitors have their very own afternoon tea menu to choose from, but that’s not what’ll get them really wide-eyed with wonder. Right the way up ‘til Christmas Eve, children have an invite to Music & Merriment with Father Christmas. This is festive tradition at its finest, a wonderful workshop packed with singing, stories, personalised gifts and freshly baked treats from Candy the Elf – all in Father Christmas’ own cottage! Don’t forget to snap a photo with the man himself before you go. Even Mrs Christmas might make an appearance…
If the kids are still revved up after meeting Santa, you can take them outside to the adventure playground to burn off some energy – or what about a winter walk? There are 120 acres of grounds and gardens to explore at Harewood House, and they’ll be lit up with fairy lights, so it’s the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit and work off all those festive treats.
Whether you’re big or little, Harewood House’s Christmas season invites you to expect the unexpected. Of course it’s filled with yuletide magic, of course there’ll be yummy hot chocolates and mulled wines. But there are also twists, turns and festive enchantment around every corner. Who knows what you’ll find?
A Night at the Mansion: Christmas at Harewood runs until Sunday 5th January 2020. Tickets are just £15.75 when you pre-book or £17.50 with Gift Aid (£8.10 or £8.65 for children), and that gets you entry to the house, the exhibition and all the grounds, so you can make a real day of it. Family tickets also available. Twilight Tours cost £31, Festive Afternoon Tea costs £45, Music and Merriment with Father Christmas costs £25 for children aged 4+ and £20 for children under 4 – all special events also include full site entry. Entry to the festive weekend market is included with entry.Cover image credit: Charlotte Graham