2018 is the third year that the Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival has been at the Botanical Gardens. But it’s the first year I’ve actually been.
If you read yesterday’s post about our trip to Blenheim Palace, you’ll know we missed out on tickets to the Winter Wonderland outdoor light experience. Instead I suggested we visit the Palace and the Cinderella exhibition, and then head back to Birmingham to visit the Magic Lantern Festival.
When we got back to Birmingham the weather changed for the worse and it started to rain. And rain. Then rain some more. The thought of a wet and squelchy walk, especially as we’d forgotten our umbrellas, was unappealing. So we abandoned the plans, and made new ones.
Magic Lantern Festival, take 2!
Last Christmas we didn’t leave the house between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, which isn’t exactly healthy! So we decided to rearrange our plans for 29th December, which would force us out into real life!
I’d read good things about the festival from previous years, but didn’t know what to expect. Short answer – it was brilliant! There was a great mix of festive and none festive decorations; wonderfully lit, brightly coloured and really well spread out. The pitch darkness meant they look great on photos too!
Christmas themed lantern displays
Whimsical fairytale lantern displays
Flower displays everywhere!
Animal lantern displays
Finally, my favourites – the pandas!
We got the tickets for the bargain price of £8.50 each via Travelzoo, and it was well worth the money. If you’re quick you can still catch it, as the last entrance is on New Year’s Day. If not, I’d definitely recommend it for next year.
The same organisers also do festivals in Leeds and London. Have you been to any of the locations?
Yes, I’m still talking about Christmas! Today is perhaps the last official day of Christmas, before it turns into New Year, so I need to get this post in!
Now I didn’t even know Christmas at Blenheim Palace was a “thing”. But my Mother in Law has been to something similar at Chatsworth House, and wanted to take me for my birthday. The husband found the Blenheim Palace event, and a plan was made.
From late November til early January the gardens of Blenheim Palace are turned into a Winter Wonderland light trail. There are thousands of fairy lights and light displays that run through the gardens, creating a magical walk around the outside of the palace and beyond. Unfortunately the tickets for that were already sold out (at least those available at suitable weekend times, taking into account the drive back to Birmingham from Oxford), so we just went along in the daytime to see the Palace decorations.
We arrived fairly early, before the huge crowds, so had a little wander round and perused the Christmas Market stalls.
Entrance to the exhibition is timed, with timeslots every 20 minutes. We were booked in for 12pm, but went in at about 11.45.
This year’s theme was Cinderella. The main entrance hall was decorated with a grand dining table; opulent with candlesticks, fancy dinnerware and Christmas trees everywhere!
Poor Cinderella’s table was tucked around the back, away from the grandeur.
From there we wandered through rooms and rooms of beautiful decorations, trees and garlands, while the Cinderella story was told along the way.
The ugly sister’s room
Beautifully bedecked in jewelled pink, blue and purple. Clothes were strewn on every surface as they planned their outfit for the ball.
In contrast, poor Cinders’ room was much more sparse and plain (as plain as it can be, when hosted in a palace!) There was an original Singer sewing machine, with fabrics and cottons for Cinderella to make her own outfits.
The Prince’s room
Spot the invitations to the ball spilling off the table, along with his velvet cloak ready for the ball.
Absolutely beautiful; covered in fairy lights and surrounded by pumpkins!
Full of clocks, and a clock decorated Christmas tree – a reminder to Cinderella that she must leave the ball before the clock strikes 12!
Breathtaking in white and silver, with flower and crystal decorated tables and roaring log fires.
Topped off, of course, by Cinderella’s glass slipper!
Everything was beautifully done, with so much effort and detail. Our only gripe was that the rest of the palace was closed off for the duration of the Christmas event, so we didn’t get to see any of the rooms other than those that were part of the exhibition. At £28 per ticket it was quite expensive for what took no more than 30 minutes to walk around (and we weren’t rushing either).
Afterwards we went for a wander around the grounds, following the path for the Winter Wonderland trail I mentioned earlier. Due to the huge amount of rain and the poor pathways it was a soggy mushy mess underfoot. It actually made us glad we hadn’t been able to get tickets, as it wouldn’t have been a pleasant walk, and would probably have ended up with one or more of us on our ass in the dark!
We had a lovely lovely time, but I do think the organisers should consider value for money a little more next year. And definitely sort those paths out!
Christmas at Blenheim Palace runs until 6th January 2019, although the Christmas Market ended on 16th December.
Have you ever been to a stately home at Christmas? Do you still have your decorations up in your own home? (We do!)