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Written by Jessica, guest at the Holkham preview event and Social Media Executive at Chestnut

Wells-Next-The-Sea, home to The Globe Inn, which is less than a ten-minute drive from Holkham. Renowned for its unspoilt stretch of sandy beach, Holkham is an 18th Century estate that consists of 25,000 acres of parkland and is home to Holkham Hall.

Holkham Hall is open throughout the year on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. Home of the Earl of Leicester, the magnificent Hall is magically transformed for Christmas each winter.

I was lucky to be invited to preview Holkham Hall by Candlelight, their yearly extravaganza, where families and friends can enjoy state rooms in all their festive finery.

I arrived to a glass of fizz and mince pies, while being serenaded by a pianist in the Marble Hall. What an entrance! This magical hallway was full of at least twenty small Christmas trees sourced from a nearby tree farm... It’s quite unimaginable how this entrance could be topped off with anything more festive and beautiful, but you next enter the Bee Room!

Honey scented candles fill the space and a soft sounding buzz floats in the air. This room shines a light on the climate change issues that we are facing and highlights the impact bees have on our environment. The centre piece is a cake made by Claire Owen and the mantelpiece is adorned with local Fakenham Flower Club creations. These are conscious decisions made by Lady Leicester and Catherine Zoll, Holkham Halls Christmas-connoisseur, to work with local artists and volunteers to champion Norfolk’s artisan culture and sustainable methods.

Then on to another room that again captures the environmental consciousness of Christmas at Holkham Hall - Landscape Room and its Poinsettia tree. The tree features over seventy-one Poinsettias and is created using wine cases donated to the cause or loaned via Facebook.

One of the most exceptional scenes, and my favourite, was a hallway transformed into a Winter Village. When the grand door opened into this area there was an immediate drop in temperature and tremendous scent of Winter thyme. We were all taken aback by this wonderland!

The scene was set using special-effect fake snow from a company who have chosen to invest in reforestation. They believe that investing in reforestation is one of the best ways to halt the climate crisis. In creating this realistic festive setting their commitment to the cause and understanding of environmental issues were clear. The company are also selective with whom they work with and base it on sustainability initiatives.

Equally as impressive as the snow were the handcrafted houses made by volunteers - lit-up they looked magical! A relatively small detail, but Holkham are an example of how the smallest of touches, together amount to an amazing and immersive experience.

A fun fact... it takes two hours-a-day to turn on all the lights and candles for the event.

After the spectacular Winter Village, again, it is hard to imagine how they could out do themselves, but then I enter the Principal Drawing Room and I am greeted by a 20ft tree decorated in 2000 lights! Followed by the Moss Room adorned in natural elements foraged from the park - the team at Holkham really have thought about everything!

Finally, the Jubilee Room. A space in commemoration to the Queen’s 70th Jubilee. Red, white and blue fill this room and a present tree stands tall in one corner, wrapped in recyclable wrapping paper. Baubles and large ribbons grace the setting, all used in previous Christmas scenes at the estate.

Not only does the scale of this experience take your breath away, but the effort to highlight environmental issues, to conserve and reuse decorations from previous years is inspiring. Beyond the elaborate embellishments, sustainability and community are at the heart of Holkham by Candlelight; two values that are also close to our hearts across Chestnut.

If you’re looking for an immersive and festive experience in December, click here to find out more about availability at Holkham by Candlelight. Also, see what else is on in East Anglia in our Chestnut Christmas Guide.

Just don’t forget to reserve a table with us afterwards for lunch of dinner!

Thank you to our neighbours at Holkham Estate for inviting us to preview Holkham by Candlelight


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