In the headlong rush toward Christmas it can be tricky to fit in all the experiences one wants to give a family. Between seeking out Santa, picking out and decorating a tree, writing and planning a menu in great detail (just me…?), finding shelves for elves, extracting Christmas lists from children (and adults come to think of it) and generally getting through the schools endless run of engagements, there’s a fair bit on at this time of year. One festive event that really marks the start of the Christmas Season though is the opening of one of the region’s iconic stately homes Christmas experiences, this year being Neverland at Castle Howard.
With its starring role in so many films, Castle Howard should need little introduction to anyone in York, but the long straight drive through several narrow archways serves as just that as one approaches the estate before making your way through a courtyard into the grounds. It’s a spectacular place to visit at any time of year but when dressed for the festive season it’s all the more memorable. Each year the main house shuts for a period to facilitate the vast undertaking of readying it for the Christmas crowds and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to get to see the fruits of this year’s labour. JM Barrie and Peter Pan are the inspiration this year for Neverland at Castle Howard which raises the bar again for spectacle in this destination.
As one makes their way around the house, you can see JM Barrie’s office recreated in one of the bedrooms, Captain Hook’s den and a mermaid pool amongst other things. These are all brought to life by the addition of audio-visual elements for the first time, putting Tinkerbell right in the middle of the action particularly memorably in a food fight!
It wouldn’t do to spoil too much of the experience but the team at Castle Howard have certainly created something special this year with the help of designer Charlotte Lloyd-Webber. There’s a huge amount of detail to take in as you make your way round, with many nods to both Barrie and the characters he created, definitely an experience worth making time for this Christmas!