National Trust property Chirk Castle on the Shropshire border has been transformed into a winter wonderland winter wonderland complete with festive food, a wish tree, children’s activities and Father Christmas’s grotto.
House manager Carolyn Latham said visitors over advent were more likely to be local people and very often extended families.
“We will have about 8,000 visitors, all anxious to enjoy some Christmas magic. Many will be taking a break from getting ready for Christmas to enjoy a walk in the grounds, or to make some Christmas decorations with the children to hang on the tree.
“My favourite is the wishing tree on which people hang their Christmas wishes, some very heartfelt.”
During advent visitors will be able to experience the castle as it would have been decorated for Christmas in 1913, when Lord Howard de Walden had just taken up residence. The scene will be set with opulent sofas in front of roaring fires surrounded by music and entertainment, with preparations going on for lavish house parties.
Younger visitors will be invited to play a part in a family pantomime, trying on the costumes, reading a few lines or acting out a scene in the Long Gallery, under the watchful direction of Mr Gilbanks.
And those who explore the medieval tower may find themselves in the elves’ workshop, where Santa’s helpers have been busy making and wrapping all the presents ready for Father Christmas to deliver.
Before leaving, children are invited to hang their hopes, dreams and desires for the festive season on the Christmas wish tree in the castle grounds.
Father and Mother Christmas will both be visiting the castle as well, settling into a snug garden grotto. Wearing authentic Edwardian costume they’ll be checking their lists and making sure all good boys and girls get their presents. The grotto will be open 11am to 4pm at weekends and noon to 2pm on weekdays. Admission is £3 per child.
Other events are planned for certain days during advent. On weekends leading up to Christmas, National Trust volunteers will be leading festive craft workshops to create decorations to take away.
Two Christmas concerts are being planned on December 11 and 18 when the Ceiriog Male Voice Choir and Chester Bach Singers will provide seasonal music to get visitors into the festive spirit. Tickets for the concert cost £10 and the performances will start at 8pm.
And a champagne gala dinner will take place on December 19 in the opulent East Wing rooms, followed by an atmospheric tour of the state rooms decorated in all their festive finery. The evening will finish with a four-course dinner, served in the Medieval Distill Tower. The evening will start at 7pm and tickets cost £50 per person.
Booking is essential for both these events, call (01691) 777701.
Chirk Castle will reopen for its festive programme on Saturday, and it will run until December 22.