CHATSWORTH usually goes to town for Christmas – and this year is no different.
The spectacular stately home might feel something of a trek away from Rotherham in the depths of winter but the warm welcome and imaginative decorations make the journey worthwhile.
Mary Poppins, James and the Giant Peach and Cinderella are among the fairytales and classic children’s stories to have provided inspiration for a series of rooms festooned with intricate trimmings and bold statement pieces.
Having visited Chatsworth at various times of year, I find the grand house always looks its best at Christmas.
A huge dragon greets visitors in the hallway, before a homage to Charlotte’s Web formed from silvery webs of light and a dazzling white tree.
The Peter Rabbit-themed corridor is fabulously detailed if less wintry and the Cinderella carriage in the always-awesome chapel makes for a stunning centrepiece in the shadow of a towering tree.
The tale of The Princess and the Pea is given a humorous twist, before a star-lined corridor themed on the Three Kings of the nativity story leads you into the cavernous marble hallway.
Pause at the top of the staircase to leave a greetings note on one of the Emerald City trees, before continuing to the upper floor where Mary Poppins has popped in to weave her magic on the bedrooms.
Stories to captivate children from throughout history are featured, including classic TV series Bagpuss and the historic Sleeping Beauty.
Appropriately-trimmed traditional fir trees are a focal point, of course, but this year’s display also relies on modern technology, with animated back-lit projections bringing some of the tales to life.
For younger visitors, there’s an activity trail to follow through the mansion, as well as the chance to spot cute, cuddly dragons and dress up in period clothes.
Chatsworth’s attractions extend beyond the Devonshire family’s grand home, of course, and the gardens and grounds remain open for a bracing ramble.
Speaking of windswept walks, parking arrangements have been revamped for this year so visitors from the Sheffield direction enter and exit through the park’s north entrance — something of a novelty — and can either take a walk of up to 20 minutes to the big house or hop on one of the regularly-running shuttle buses and golf buggies.
As with the journey from Rotherham, it’s a bit of hike — but worth it when you get there.
Christmas tickets include the house, garden and farmyard are priced at £25 per adult; £15 per child and £69 per family (two adults and three children) and should be booked in advance.
For more information, including about family-friendly nativity plays taking place in the farmyard until December 23 and Twilight Evenings featuring traditional bell-ringers and a string trio, visit www.chatsworth.org.