On Monday I was very kindly invited to Belvoir Castle to experience the ‘Regency Christmas in the Castle’ and ‘Enlightened Light Trail’. Belvoir Castle is located off the A52, just 8 miles from Grantham and 18 miles from Nottingham. Considering I have lived in both of those places for over 13 years, it’s absurd that this was my first visit!
Belvoir Castle is the home of Their Graces, the 11th Duke and Duchess of Rutland, and their family have lived at the castle for over 500 years. And what a beautiful home it is. I don’t want to spoil the fun if you are going to visit the castle over Christmas so I will give you an overview but keep some things secret to preserve the magic.
As we left the A52, there sat the castle, majestic on the hill. Lit up with thousands of lights, it was easily visible in the darkness. We drove up to the castle on a driveway that seemed to stretch for miles. Parking in the car park, we noticed the first hour is free and from then on a pre paid ticket is required. We arrived at 6pm and there was a small shop serving sausage rolls, hot drinks and pasties through a serving hatch. This had closed by the time we got back to the car 90 minutes later so if you want to get something I would recommend purchasing at the start of your visit. There are other stalls at the entrance to the castle but the price of a hot chocolate had jumped from £2.50 to £4!
A Regency Christmas at Belvoir Castle
We wandered up to the castle along the fairly steep path (careful of cars on the same path) and it took about 6-7 minutes to get to the castle entrance. There is disabled parking at the top of the castle so bear that in mind. Projected onto the wall of the castle was an incredible movie scene including a ballet dancer, a peacock and a nutcracker. I will say no more…
Upon entering the castle, we walked along the hall adorned by beautiful christmas trees on both sides. From here we entered into the main entrance (The Guard Room) with roaring fires and another beautiful christmas tree.
We followed the signage through the various rooms including the Ballroom, State Dining Room and King’s Rooms. My favourite room though has to be the Elizabeth Saloon. A room so pink it kinda hurts your eyes, it looks like the inside of my imagination. This room, along with the rest of the castle was designed by Lady Elizabeth Howard in the early 1800’s who wasn’t a fan of the castle when she married the Duke. I love it, it is stunning. My only dislike was the fact we couldn’t actually enter the room as it was cordoned off. Probably to stop people like me chaining themselves to something in the room and claiming squatters rights.
Wandering from room to room it is obvious that when not open to visitors, the rooms are used by the family. Personal photographs are scattered around the rooms, and the Picture Room really is something to behold. Every available inch of wall has been covered in portraits of Dukes, Duchesses and family pets and it really is incredible. I have a 6x4cm photo of my ancestors, this house has a portrait of every family member, sometimes more than 5ft high! It’s incredible to imagine the people painted wandering through the halls hundreds of years prior. There is even a portrait of King Henry VIII.
Wander through bedrooms and reception rooms for as long as you like (but be careful, the castle closes at 7pm) and really get a feel for what it must be like to live there. We said ‘WOW’ on more than one occasion. You see about a third of the castle on this tour, the rest is closed to the public. Shame, I would have loved to have a nosy in the attic to see what treasures hide there.
Enlightened Light Trail at Belvoir Castle
Once we had finished with the castle, it was time to follow the Enlightened Light Trail. This walk through the castle grounds covers 1.3km. Some of it is extremely muddy (especially by the fountains) so choose your footwear carefully. The exhibitions were really lovely and made for some fab photos.
I especially loved the dome display, bright neon colours lighting up the sky in complete contrast to the dark night sky. You can also use the stepping stones to create lovely colours under foot. Make sure you have a play on these. The light trail was very quiet when we went, you book a slot and they are staggered so it doesn’t feel at all crowded.
Shopping at Belvoir Castle
There are also a range of shops on site at the Engine Yard. Jewellery, toys, interior decorations and artisan chocolates can be purchased. There is also a gunmakers, garden shop and delicatessen. Unfortunately these shut at 5pm so we didn’t get to wander around. There is a small gift shop on site at the castle through in case you want to purchase a memento.
It is well worth a visit to A Regency Christmas at Belvoir Castle. I do appreciate that family tickets can be a little out of budget, especially at this time of year, however it is great for kids and adults alike. It would make a great date night activity too!
Christmas at Belvoir is available to visit until Thursday 23rd December and reopens from Monday 27th December until Sunday 2nd January 2022. A combined ticket to visit both the castle and light trail is £33 per adult and £21 per child with family passes available. Don’t miss it! Book tickets via the website here
*I was invited as a guest to experience A Regency Christmas and the Enlightened Light Trail.