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Christmas in England conjures up images of traditional country houses where families gather around roaring fires and twinkling Christmas trees. On this delightful break we celebrate the spirit of Christmas past and catch a glimpse of festivities of times gone by in some of England’s most iconic locations. We have the chance to visit magnificent properties which are specially decorated for the season such as Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The highlight of our trip promises to be an exclusive visit to Highclere Castle, the home of Downton Abbey, where the quintessentially British festive spirit is perfectly encapsulated. To complete our enchanting getaway we experience the magic of Christmas at Kew Gardens and visit Bath’s award-winning Christmas Market.
9 December 2020
Visit to Highclere Castle, the home of Downton Abbey
We enjoy an exclusive visit to magnificent Highclere Castle, the world-famous filming location of the much-loved Downton Abbey television series and film. During our visit we can view many of the rooms and vistas that will be familiar to Downton fans including the Drawing Room and Dining Room, which are beautifully dressed for the festive season. The castle is transformed during this magical time of year; holly and mistletoe are gathered from the grounds to make lovely decorations and a twenty-foot Christmas tree creates an enchanting atmosphere in the saloon.
We depart the US on December 9, arriving at London Heathrow the following morning. We are met by our tour manager and head to the town of Windsor to enjoy free time at leisure. Situated on the River Thames, this ancient royal town has a rich heritage dating back over 1,000 years with many beautiful buildings and cobbled streets. There’s also the option to visit Windsor Castle ($35pp).
Today we travel into central London for a guided tour by coach, taking in many of the famous and iconic sights including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral and more. Afterwards you have free time at leisure to explore further.
Later, a festive treat awaits us at the world-famous Kew Gardens, where the iconic architecture and tree canopies are brought to life, drenched in Christmas color and sparkling with seasonal decorations. Discover an enchanting festive trail of lights that winds its way through the botanic gardens, before enjoying some seasonal treats from one of the many enticing stalls.
This morning we visit historic Oxford, known as the city of dreaming spires and famed for its world-renowned university colleges. There is plenty to discover in this unique city during our time at leisure, from the University of Oxford Botanic Garden to the stunning Bodleian Library. There is a range of fascinating museums to discover too, including the Ashmolean, the world’s first public museum.
Next is Blenheim Palace, set in over 2,000 acres of beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. As the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, the palace is synonymous with the Churchill family and is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The palace is decorated sumptuously for Christmas during the festive season and the grounds transform into an atmospheric wonderland. From Blenheim’s Christmas Market, filled with a variety of hand-picked gifts and tempting treats in cosy wooden chalets, to the illuminated trail through the world-famous parkland, Christmas time at Blenheim is truly magical.
We head to the beautiful city of Bath, home to Jane Austen in the early 1800s. The city has remained faithful to its Regency roots, with an abundance of elegant terraces, circuses and squares in a picturesque valley setting. We enjoy time at Bath’s magical, award-winning Christmas Market, spread throughout this iconic city against stunning backdrops such as Bath Abbey. With a huge range of traders providing a variety of handmade and local Christmas offerings in chalet-style stalls, this is a wonderful way to get into the festive spirit.
Today we enjoy an exclusive visit to Highclere Castle, filming location of the much-loved Downton Abbey TV series and 2019 film. Home to the Carnarvon family since 1679, the current castle is one of England’s most beautiful Victorian castles and at this time of year is seasonally festooned with garlands on the staircase and a 22ft tree in the saloon. Walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters and explore what it is like behind the scenes of the ‘real Downton Abbey’ at this magical time of year.
We check out of the hotel and transfer to London Heathrow airport for your return flight home.
The price includes economy flights with one piece of hold baggage per person from a number of selected airports. The final price will depend on your chosen airport, airline and flight time. Please call us to find out more.
We’ll stay at a well-appointed 3 or 4-star hotel such as the Marriott Windsor, Holiday Inn Maidenhead or Holiday Inn Reading.