Christmas in England conjures up images of Dickensian London and A Christmas Carol or traditional country houses where families gather around roaring fires. We celebrate the spirit of Christmas past and catch a
glimpse of festivities of times gone by as we travel from London to the pastoral Home Counties. We enjoy enchanting visits to magnificent properties which are specially decorated for the season, from the royal
residence of Windsor Castle to Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. To complete our festive getaway we experience the magic of Christmas at Kew and also visit the lovely city of Oxford, where we indulge in the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea and have time for some Christmas shopping.
- Pricing from
- Trip Type
- Individual Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
- Departure Dates
- Dec 2, 2020 - Dec 7, 2020
Airport transfers from London Heathrow
- day 1
December 2: Arrival (depart U.S. on 12/1)
On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, our base for the next two nights. In the late afternoon there is the option to join a guided walking tour of Windsor. 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. We trace the origins of the town from its roots in the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings to its heyday as a bastion of Queen Victoria’s reign.
In the evening, join the group for a welcome drink at the hotel, followed by dinner.
- day 2
December 3: Windsor Castle, Ham House and Kew Gardens
We begin our day with free time in Windsor, where the independent boutiques and shop-lined streets offer the perfect chance to stock up on some festive goodies.
Next, we visit Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world which is still one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II today. Established in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, it has been remodelled by successive kings and queens and is regularly used for ceremonial and state occasions. The magnificent State Apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art for you to admire, beautifully decorated at this time of year. We find out more of the castle’s history on our audio-guided tour.
We continue to Ham House and Gardens, one of Europe’s greatest 17th-century houses nestling on the banks of the River Thames. This atmospheric mansion with fine interiors and historic gardens has remained virtually unchanged for 400 years. The atmosphere of a 17th-century Christmas is re-created during the festive season with decorations adorning the house and gardens.
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 evening we enjoy a late dinner at a local restaurant.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
- day 3
December 4: Waddesdon Manor
Checking out of the hotel, we head to Waddesdon Manor, built by the wealthy Rothschild family in the style of a Renaissance château and filled with royal treasures. During our guided tour we explore the interiors, given an extra sparkle around Christmas with lavish festive decorations, before enjoying a festive lunch here. The Christmas theme continues into the gardens with light trails and stunning illuminations, including Waddesdon’s 30ft high real Christmas tree with its magical fairy lights, as well as a charming Christmas Fair offering a range of Christmas treats.
Later, we check into the Hartwell House Hotel, one of the National Trust’s Historic House Hotels, where we stay for the next two nights.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
- day 4
December 5: Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum
This morning we enjoy a guided walking tour in Oxford, known as the city of dreaming spires and famed for its world-renowned university colleges, some of which we enter during our tour. We take in the city’s highlights before visiting the Ashmolean, the world’s first public museum. Founded in 1683, the museum focuses on art and archelogy and the world-famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary paintings and sculptures. There is then time for a spot of retail therapy before indulging in a festive afternoon tea at a lovely hotel in the city.
Meals: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
- day 5
December 6: Blenheim Palace and Greys Court
Today we visit 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. A permanent exhibition commemorates the life of this famous wartime Prime Minister, whilst the magnificent State Rooms will be sumptuously dressed for Christmas and reveal a superb collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture.
We continue on to Greys Court, a filming location of the hugely popular Downton Abbey TV series and film. Set in the rolling hills of the Chilterns, this picturesque Tudor mansion has a rich patchwork of styles, including 18th-century additions and 20th-century interiors. The house is still furnished as an intimate family home, having been occupied until 2003, and is beautifully decorated during the countdown to Christmas.
Afterwards, we check back in to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel where we toast the festive season with a farewell dinner this evening and enjoy a private carol singing performance, highlighting some of the traditions and customs during this special time of year.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
- day 6
December 7: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.
Everything you need to know about the tour
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Be prepared with the National Trust Travel Plan
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