We finished last weekend off with a trip to Waddesdon Manor for their Christmas at Waddesdon Event. We hadn’t been to Waddesdon Manor in a few years and it was lovely to go back – especially for such a lovely, festive event.
What is Waddesdon Manor?
Owned by the National Trust and managed by the Rothschild Foundation, Waddesdon Manor is a country house in the village of Waddesdon, in Buckinghamshire. It’s one of the National Trust’s most visited properties and is a really lovely day out for the whole family.
Waddesdon Manor has plenty of car parking but the car park is about a 15 minute walk from the main manor house and grounds. There are free buses you can get to and from the car park or you can enjoy the walk, although it is up hill on the way to the manor house and nicely downhill on the return!
Before you start your walk – or get the bus – there are toilets available. For the event, the main toilets were women only with men asked to use portaloos provided. The toilets weren’t very busy when we arrived or when we left and they were perfectly located, especially if you’d had a long drive like us.
Waddesdon Manor Christmas
As soon as you arrive at the manor house you’re thrown into the Christmas at Waddesdon event. The manor house is lit up, trees are covered in lights and the main walkways are lined with a Christmas market. It’s beautiful, festive and has a real buzz about it.
We started our evening by exploring the Christmas fair, enjoying the mix of food stalls, gifts, jewellery and homeware on offer. It was a real eclectic mix of businesses and everyone was super friendly. It felt like such a nice alternative to going to a city Christmas market.
The Waddesdon winter light trail
After we’d had our fill of the festive offerings, and the sun had gone down, we made our way to the start of the light trail. This was well signposted and took us past the glorious Waddesdon Manor aviary and into the grounds.
The aviary was really popular but it was too dark to really see any birds so we focused on the lights instead. Between the two sides of the aviary there was an interactive floor that young children absolutely loved but we skipped past as it just felt far too busy.
One of our favourite light exhibits followed, with huge tubes of bubbles all lit in different colours and with the lights changing as buttons were pressed. It was a beautiful start to the trail. There was also a huge string of lights next to it that changed colour as a button was pressed.
We carried on along the paths, loving that so many trees were lit up. The hillside was awash with lights and some had even been designed to go on and off in time with music. It was beautiful to see.
The trail led us past elephant sculptures, a colour changing field of roses and tree after tree that was lit from below. We ended up in a tunnel of lights which was one of the first real congested areas as everyone stopped to take photos – which is to be expected at any event. But, the children loved walking through the tunnel and were so excited by it.
Afterwards there was a pyramid full of almost floating balls of light, balls of light hanging from trees and giant dandelions waiting for wishes to be made. Every installation was well thought out and beautiful, with each one being more stunning and colourful than the last.
The light trail finished with a walk down a hill where strands of light flowed down from the trees, almost like shimmering roots across the ground. On the other side of the manor house, disco balls had been strung from the trees, dazzling the area with droplets of light.
We loved the light trail but it was shorter than we expected. We were only at Waddesdon Manor for around an hour and a half, taking in the stalls and walking through the lights so it’s not something I would travel far for in the future but it was a really lovely experience that we all really enjoyed.
We arrived just as the sun was going down and it wasn’t very busy but, obviously, it got much busier once it was dark as everyone wants to see the lights in all their glory. Although numbers were limited and it was purely a ticketed event, it still felt really busy at times, mainly around the main light installations and at the food stalls.
We finished our trip with dirty fries and hot dogs from the Kurbside Kitchen food stall before walking back to the car park and heading home. We loved seeing the lights and it was a great way to finish our weekend, doing something really festive before Christmas.
Christmas at Waddesdon is on until 3rd January. You can find out more and book online over on the National Trust website. Christmas at Waddesdon is a paid event with a reduced cost for National Trust members.
You can see a video of our trip to the Waddesdon Light Trail over on Instagram here: