Hampshire’s National Trust treasures have lots of festive delights for all the family…
Christmas is the time for getting together, to feel the warmth of festive days out with family and friends. At National Trust places in and around Hampshire, you can do just that, with winter experiences to bring joy, sprinkles of magic, and for little ones especially, a tingle of excitement.
There’s a real variety of Christmas entertainment to discover this year, with plenty of spectacle and sparkle for those ‘wow’ moments and selfies moments. Decorated houses bring much-loved stories to life – kindling a glow of nostalgia. You’ll find family actives, storytelling and crafts. Outside, frosty landscapes offer an uplifting escape for those who want winter nature, views and festive walks.
Here’s a roundup of the National Trust’s best Christmas events in an around Hampshire.
The magical one
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Christmas at Mottisfont
Mottisfont, near Romsey
Step into a Narnia-inspired world at Mottisfont this winter, with scenes and a family trail inspired by C.S. Lewis’s much-loved story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The magic begins from the moment you enter the gardens, where Narnia’s famous black lamp post illuminates your way to the house, transformed for a 1940s Christmas. Inside, follow wartime evacuees Edmund, Lucy, Susan and Peter into the kingdom of the White Witch – a landscape of snow and Turkish delight. An enchanted woodland scene introduces more famous characters – look out for Lucy having tea with Mr Tumnus the fawn – and a display of exquisite Narnia illustrations by Pauline Baynes, the original artist of C.S. Lewis’s children’s books. There are plenty of ‘wow’ moments, from walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, and seeing the White Witch in her sleigh, to sitting on a throne with Aslan at the crowning of the young kings and queens. Outside, families can collect their Narnia-style map to continue the adventure. Life-size wardrobes frame iconic scenes, there are story-themed activities, and loads of great ‘selfie’ opportunities as you enter the Beaver’s cottage, find Father Christmas’s sleight and sit in the throne room at Cair Paravel.
26th November – 8th January (closed 24th & 25th December). Normal admission charges apply plus £1 per trail including members.
The cosy one
The Wind in the Willows at Christmas, Hinton Ampler
Hinton Ampner, near Alresford
The much-loved World of The Wind in the Willows comes to Hinton Ampner this Christmas. Inside the house follow Mollie, Rat and Badger as they leave their sheltered lives in the woods and along the riverbank to rescue incorrigible friend Toad from his wild adventures. Rooms are beautifully decorated to tell the story, from Toad’s motor car exploits to the friends’ stand against the mischievous weasels. Outside, you can visit the characters’ homes, dressed in charming seasonal displays, including Mole’s sweet little burrow among the trees and the grandeur of Toad Hall in the walled garden. Storytelling: enjoy Wind in the Willows storytelling on selected dates, in the cosy setting in Hinton’s second-hand bookshop (subject to volunteer availability).
26th November – 2nd January, Wednesday to Sunday (closed 25th & 26th December). Normal admission charges apply. Storytelling in the bookshop: 4, 11, 18, 20, 22, 27, 29 December, 11am-12pm & 1-2pm, free (note: these sessions are subject to volunteer availability). Pre-booking for Hinter Ampner essential, at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hinton-ampner or call 0344 249 1895.
The glamorous one
Christmas at The Vyne
The Vyne, near Basingstoke
This Christmas, the atmospheric interiors of The Vyne are decked out in Victorian festive finery, with twinkling lights and glittering Christmas trees. Inspired by the mansion’s 18th century ‘Grand Tour’ treasures, which include an incredible casket encrusted with semi-precious stones, you’ll also find decorations that celebrate Christmas in Europe. Look out for sumptuous Venetian masks, mini ‘Colesseums’ and intricate Moravian stars. A special ‘Passport’ takes families on their own ‘Grand Tour’ adventure in the house and gardens, with actives to try that explore festive traditions in other countries.
26th November – 3rd January (closed 24th & 25th December). Normal admissions charges apply plus £2 per family passport including member. If arriving by car pre-booking is essential, at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-vyne or call 0344 249 1895
The handmade one
Christmas at Uppark
Uppark House and Garden
Celebrate Christmas at Uppark and see the mansion adorned with natural and handmade decorations. Pretty festoon lights illuminate the approach to the mansion. Inside, you’ll find the entrance hall beautifully dressed and festively scented with winter greenery, pinecones, citrus fruit and cinnamon. Above and below stairs, each room has its own crafted theme, from music to haberdashery. Made by local community groups and including sparkling Christmas trees, the result is a unique and joyful Christmas experience.
19th November – 1st January, Thursday to Sunday (closed 25th & 26th December). Normal admission charges apply
The medieval one
A Tudor Christmas
Winchester City Mill
Celebrate Christmas with Winchester City Mill as we go back to Tudor times, when Queen Mary I gifted the Mill to the City of Winchester. This ancient building is set for a royal feast, with festive decorations, costumes to dress up in, and a throne to sit on for a unique Tudor ‘selfie’. Our café is serving festive specials such as marchpane and gold leaf shortbread, as well as lots of other seasonal treats, many made using the Mill’s own stoneground flour. At weekends you can watch our volunteer millers making fresh stoneground flour, which is available to buy too, so that you can get baking at home. Pick up a pack of recipe cards, for some seasonal inspiration (for a small donation).
12 November – 2 January, Wednesday to Sunday (closed 25 to 27 December. Free entry.
Christmas dinner set ceramics class with Tash Fry
Local ceramicist Tash Fry will introduce you to the art of hand-building ceramics this Christmas, as you sculpt your very own tableware, for yourself or for gifts. Using hand-pinching and slab rolling techniques, you’ll create several pieces, from dinner plates to candlestick holders. The choice is yours. Allow up to four weeks for pieces to be fired. No previous experience necessary.
22 & 23rd November, 6-8pm, £45 per person, book on 0344 249 1895 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/winchester-city-mill
Christmas wreath making workshop with Field Farm Project
Join us inside ancient Winchester City Mill to make your own natural festive wreath using a base of willow and selected greenery. There’ll be a wide assortment of decorations to use, including fragrant pine cones, seed heads, teasels and berries, finished off with pretty ribbons to create a really eye-catching rustic design. All materials are supplied by Field Farm Project.
28 & 29 November, 4.30 – 7pm, £45, book on 0344 249 1895 or at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/winchester-city-mill