When it comes to Christmas there are A LOT of events and cultural programmes to enjoy with your family. Unfortunately, of course, this season is quite different, for all of us. During December, we had some free days and we wanted to explore some nice places in Kent, as it is very close to our hometown. We decided to visit Hever Castle, but surprisingly we were not alone! When we arrived at the Castle’s car park, there were several families hurriedly pushing their children along to get to the castle on time. I asked Jacob what the rush was about, as we were not aware that any event was taking place during the pandemic. Of course, it would have been a good idea to check the Castle’s website, and more importantly, to reserve tickets! When we reached the entrance, the lady at the information centre kindly confirmed our suspicions!
As we had no booking, we had a walk in the nearby countryside, which was as spectacular as the castle itself! When I got back home I went online and when I read about ‘Christmas at Hever Castle’, I said to myself: ‘Oh my goodness! This is amazing!’ So, I rushed and checked the available tickets and dates. It was hard to find availability as it’s a popular destination but luckily in mid-December we returned to Hever Castle, this time with tickets in hand.
I must say, the programme was spectacular, and the staff have done such a great job – we could imagine how challenging it was to meet all the new Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions and still have an engaging programme especially for parents with kids. Fortunately, Hever Castle with its large gardens has a lot of space and options for a successful Christmas programme. The ever-popular Father Christmas’s Grotto was almost immediately sold out, but we were able to buy tickets for ‘Peter Pan’s Christmas’ and we enjoyed this special event around the castle and its gardens.
For those who want to experience a real winter atmosphere, the ‘Twilight experience’ is a great choice. At around 4 o’clock many beautiful, sparkling, shimmering lights are switched on in the Castle’s gardens and it feels like a real fairytale being surrounded by little fairies.
We had great fun with almost one-and-a-half-year-old Lucas on the colourful carousel full of brightly painted little horses. Even though the historic Castle itself was closed, we could still enjoy the gate decorated by Christmas lights and surrounding moat which is full of goldfish with their curious facial expressions. The Castle has a remarkable long history, having been the seat of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII and Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. Other parts of the Castle were built over the subsequent centuries.
When we visited, the restrictions meant we could not go into the Castle or its restaurants, but it was possible to enjoy a takeaway meal in the gardens. We had such fun during our lunch in the gardens (despite a little rain). A group of very curious swans came to beg and stare but because we knew that human food is not good for wild birds we bought four bags of bird food once we’d finished our own meal. If you do this, be careful, swans can be quick to nip you! But if you are fast enough and throw the food in the right direction it is really great fun. Our Lucas was giggling throughout.
We took a tour around the outside of the Castle after lunch. This year’s theme is the children’s story of Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland. We followed in the steps of Peter Pan, meeting pirates, seeing treasure and even spotted Peter Pan sitting in the garden!
The Christmas programme at the romantic Hever Castle was exceptional. Every little decoration was so beautifully prepared. I am sure we will be back next year to enjoy another Christmas there.