Castle Howard at Christmas

Castle Howard at Christmas

It’s several years since I visited Castle Howard at Christmas. Why did I leave it so long?

Then the children were young our primary focus was on visiting Santa in his grotto.  This year, I was determined to visit without them in tow and as Castle Howard is just 5 miles from Spring Cottage, I had no excuses!

My lasting memory of Castle Howard at Christmas (apart from Santa’s Grotto) was the huge tree in the Great Hall. Huge as in 22 foot high! It’s so impresssive. And what better place to admire it from then standing in front of the hall’s huge roaring fire.  You should see the size of their logs! And as for how may baubles there are on the tree – 100s if not 1000s.

Castle Howard at Christmas great hall
Me, the roaring fire and the tree

Before reaching the Great Hall I was blown away by the attention to detail and array of lights and accessories adorning the public rooms. From the staircase when you first enter the property to Lady Georgina’s bedroom –  simply stunning.  Each room had it’s own sophisticated design and colour scheme and roaring fires. Something that perhaps I didn’t pay much attention to last time as I was being dragged around on our mission to find Santa!

It’s worth spending a while in the Long Gallery and be serenaded by the jazz band in there,getting you all festive as they play Christmas tunes, while admiring the Christmas tree with golden roots inverted and suspended from the ceiling.

My photos don’t really do the house justice, but  just look at how beautifully it’s decorated:

the rooms at Christmas   Castle Howard at christmastime

If you do visit with juniors, there is a gingerbread trail to keep them engaged. Plus there’s a model of Castle Howard made out of gingerbread, as you can see in the above photo but this isn’t part of the children’s trail!

I chatted to many of the friendly room guides – a mine of information.  All the trees and tree branches used (the white tree above is only a branch) come from Castle Howard’s estate.   One particularly charming guide told me he thought 2016 was the best the house has ever looked at Christmas.

How’s this for a dining table centre-piece?

The dining room centre piece

I took plenty of photos to use as Christmas decorating inspiration for when I got home. I particularly loved their side table decorations using a candle in a hurricane lamp surrounded by a wreath. An idea I plan to steal!


A word of warning, be prepared to get tree-envy, bauble-envy, style-envy, table centre-piece envy, fire-place envy, candle envy, wreath envy.  You name it, I had it!

The tour ends in the shop and of course you just have to buy another bauble for your tree after being so inspired. The friendly lady behind the till told me that the lady responsible for creating such a jaw dropping Christmas display was their buyer and she was around if I wanted to say hello.

I thanked her but said not to bother as I’d written a comment in the visitors’ book to say how impressed I was.

I wrote “Simply stunning and truly magical”. What more is there to say!


I’d love for you to be able to experience Castle Howard at Christmas for yourself. Be quick, they close their doors on Friday 23 December.

I’m offering a special 2 night, 3 day stay at Spring Cottage for only £299 with flexible start dates.  Call it an early Christmas present. 

Visit the Availablity & Book tab to check your dates:

Then email me and I will book you in, as the online booking system doesn’t accept booking of 2 days (normally you have to book for 3 nights): [email protected]

Don’t miss this jewel in North Yorkshire’s crown, and a visit to Castle Howard (ha,ha, ha)


Do you want more ideas and inspiration on where to visit and what to do while on holiday in Yorkshire? Then click here and download a copy of my guide to North Yorkshire’s hidden gems, to help you get the most out of your time here:

Guide To Yorkshire


Friends, Fun, Food, Fire and Fizz – A Girls Weekend to Yorkshire

Friends, Fun, Food, Fire and Fizz – A Girls Weekend to Yorkshire

Have you stayed at Spring Cottage with the family or your other half?

Did you love it there, and think your holiday couldn’t get any better?

Let me tell you it can – in a different way!

Enjoy it with the girls.  I can 100% recommend it.

A weekend of friends, fun, food, fire and fizz. Lots of laughter, lots of natter and an escape for 48 hrs from the norm. No worrying about who needs to be dropped off at what activity at what time and what to cook for tea.

girls weekend to Yorkshire
K, L, Karen & K on our girls weekend to Yorkshire

It’s funny our girly weekends are a well oiled machine.  I didn’t even need tell them I’d booked a table at the village pub, or that we were catching the 10.13 train to York on Saturday, they just knew that’s what we would be doing.


We set off from Newcastle mid-afternoon to arrive around 4 pm.  The heating timer had kicked in and the cottage felt welcoming and cosy from the moment we stepped inside.

girls weekend to Yorkshire in the village pub

My first job was to light the fire while my friends unpacked and popped the kettle on.  After a couple of hours catching up in front of the fire, we headed to the village pub, The Grapes. As always the food did not disappoint.  I opted for a potato rosti with pork, mushrooms and bacon, K lamb dumplings and K and L a pea and ham risotto with monkfish.  All freshly cooked, beautifully presented and worthy of any smart restaurant.

Followed by a two minute stroll home and back to the cottage for more chat and a caffeine-free, pre-bedtime coffee.

girls weekend to Yorkshire breakfastSaturday

The day started with croissants, pain-au-chocolat and orange juice for breakfast. I’d booked a taxi to take us into Malton to catch the train. It’s only takes 25 minutes to get to York. We could have stayed on the train and chosen to visit Manchester or Liverpool instead, but we thought we’d save that for another time.

Arriving in York, the first thing we did of course, was find a coffee shop.

We then headed for the quaint cobbled streets around York Minster with their mixture of high street chains and independent boutiques.

shopping on our girls weekend to YorkshireNewcastle has some amazing shops but York has so much charm and a visit to York’s White Stuff, The White Company and Jo Malone seem so much more exciting than the Newcastle versions.   Purchases were made in all 3 stores, some treats for us, some Christmas presents.

Lunch and prosecco were beckoning. We headed to Kennedy’s bar in Stonegate, and ordered several sharing platters of houmous, chips, a token salad and nachos.  We initially ordered these dishes while deciding on what main course to choose, but soon realised we’d ordered enough food.  So a picking-sharing lunch it was.

By 5 pm the warmth of Spring Cottage beckoned.  So back from York to Malton on the train and back to Great Habton in a station taxi.

We’re Strictly Come Dancing fans so the early evening involved us once again sitting in front of the log fire this time with the television on. Though how much of Strictly we saw and much we talked over is debatable.  Before Strictly have even started K  and K had changed into their pjs.  An evening of chat, laughter and frozen pizza followed.


Croissants or a bacon sarnie were on the breakfast menu today.  We planned to do an autumnal walk but the weather was against us so we headed home at lunchtime.  Not before getting our diaries out and inking-in next year’s girls weekend to Yorkshire.

So how does that sound to you? You bring the friends, food and fizz. I’ll provide the cottage, the fun and the fire!

Check out Spring Cottage’s availabilty for your girly weekend here: Girly Weekend to Yorkshire Dates


Do you want more ideas and inspiration on where to visit and what to do while on holiday in Yorkshire? Then click here and download a copy of my guide to North Yorkshire’s hidden gems, to help you get the most out of your time here:

Guide To Yorkshire

Places To Eat In Yorkshire

Places To Eat In Yorkshire

This fondant fancy from Bothams of Whitby tastes gorgeous whereever you choose to eat it. In this case, a takeaway to eat back at Spring Cottage.

Fondant fancies take me back to my childhood and the rest of the family think I'm mad to opt for one on these when this local bakery has so many other treas on offer. They prefer a coconut slice or a flapjack from Bothams. Not me!

The nearest Bothams to Spring Cottage is at Pickering, with their head office being at Whitby. At Pickering you can take away or eat in. Both equally pleasurable.

I wonder which treat you'll choose? Do let me know.

Enjoyed by Karen of


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Yorkshire Pubs To Eat In

Yorkshire Pubs To Eat In

Here's pudding in the village pub, The Grapes
On this occasion coffee creme brulee and shortbread. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

It's no surprise that The Grapes is a go-to pub for locals. It's not a fancy gastro-pub just a small, traditional Yorkshire pub with great food and a warm Yorkshire welcome at it's heart.

I can't wait to go back!

Karen of


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The Howardian Hills

The Howardian Hills

Here's a list of Beautiful British Places You've Never Though to Visit But Should .

And number 5 is the Howardian Hills.

Haven't I been saying all along just how beautiful this area of the UK is. Now The Telegraph agrees with me!
Read more:

Karen from


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