Castle Howard’s Christmas opening shared seasonal spirit with over 51,500 visitors this year, marking the busiest ever festive opening for the North Yorkshire stately home, including over 1000 visitors per day in the first ‘Twixmas’ opening between Christmas and New Year.
The figures have been released as the house closes for the winter, with teams busy removing dozens of Christmas trees – including the 26ft tree which dominated the Great Hall – and tens of thousands of decorations and baubles that graced every room as part of Charlotte Lloyd Webber’s Twelve Days of Christmas theme.
Chief Executive Officer, John Hoy, who has enjoyed his first Christmas at Castle Howard, said: “It has been a superb year, and a real credit to those involved in making Castle Howard the most festive place to visit throughout November and December.
“The breath-taking decorative scheme has prompted lots of visitors to recommend a visit to friends and family, as our numbers grew consistently throughout the opening.”
Castle Howard’s festive opening taps into an experiential trend, which sees consumers replacing traditional high street shopping with online, freeing up time for Christmas experiences that are often planned ahead of time so they can enjoy the anticipation as well as the experience.
“Our themed Father Christmas events are a perfect example of this – where previous generations would queue for hours at a shopping centre or garden centre grotto, now they can be planned as part of an immersive festive experience for the whole family,” he said.
Despite this year’s continued growth in online present shopping, Castle Howard’s gift shops and Farm Shop have gone from strength to strength.
“We take great care to source unusual and exquisite products from small, boutique companies so that what you see in our gift shops is different from what you’d find in other outlets,” added John.
“We have many local people who treat the Courtyard as a one-stop-shop for Christmas shopping, buying everything from their Christmas tree and gifts to the turkey for their festive table.”
Castle Howard’s visitor numbers for the 2018 season show a 40% growth since last year.
Although the House will now remain closed until the end of March, the grounds, woodlands and Adventure Playground remain open throughout the winter, with new events planned for 2019 including twilight events for the Dark Skies Festival in February.
Planning for the 2019 season and the first BBC Countryfile Live event on August 15 to 18 is well under way.