Travelling towards Raby Castle estate, you can’t fail to be impressed with it’s grandeur and beauty as you drive through the fields and across to this majestic building. The history of Raby Castle dates back to the early 11th century, when the Manor of Raby was gifted from the township of Staindrop to the Prior of Durham by King Knut who ruled England from 1016 to 1035. During the 14th century, the Neville family built Raby Castle, which appears the same to this day. Raby Castle is surrounded by 200 acres of lush green parkland, where herds of red and fallow deer live wild. Visitors can explore the park and ponds to spot plenty of wildlife that inhabit this remarkable setting. There are 5 acres of traditional 18th century ornamental Walled Gardens which include yew hedges, a fig house, rose garden, trees, plants and ornamental features. There’s also the Woodland Adventure Playground for children to enjoy and plenty of stunning views to take in around the estate. We were really excited to be invited to stories by the fireside with Father Christmas and along with my lovely nephew and mum myself and the two littles set off to meet the man in red in this unique setting.
When you first arrive at the castle a lovely festive helper greets you and takes your details. We arrived only 15 minutes before the time slot but recommend to arrive earlier so you can take in the quaint little Christmas and gift shops and get some tree decoration ideas! Lots of people were there buying their own real tree and the pine smell was amazing! The beautiful decorations were made by Gisela Graham and there were some outstanding creations perfect for the modern tree decorator or some sticking to the traditional. The woodland animals were gorgeous!
There are also lots of food stalls offering seasonal fayre and on a cold and frosty morning a hot chocolate to warm you up is just the ticket. There is also a cafe if you would like anything more substantial and are making a day of it. On the Sunday we visited it wasn’t too packed so there was plenty of space. There is a lovely outdoor area to sit in or feel nice and cosy indoors. We loved having a browse of the toys (well some of us did!!)
Lots of toys now on their Christmas lists!
When it was time to walk up the castle we were met by Mrs Baubles and Elvis the Christmas pony who led us along the path to the castle where Father Christmas’ helpers were waiting for us (we had to knock on the door first!) the walk towards the castle allowed for us to see the beautiful scenery and surroundings and it was great that the children could spot some of the Christmas decorations on the way (real Christmas trees line the way in the courtyard and a huge wreath hangs on the door) when we were let in the lovely helpers started setting the tone of the event and we went up the steps and into the hall of the castle. The little touches that showed the castle dressed for Christmas were all around us including a carriage and lights and the hugest Christmas tree I have ever seen!
Mrs Baubles and Elvis lead the way to the castle!
The children were lead to little seats by a roaring fire and once father Christmas comes in it was lovely to see how engrossed the audience was! Father Christmas’ helpers put on a show to the story and hilarity ensued! Afterwards there was even time for a quick dance together which everyone joined! The individual children’s names were read out when it was time for the present giving meaning that for each child a truly special experience was had. The looks on their faces told me this! There was a moment for photos too and videos (my phone is full!) as this was something I wanted to capture forever. I had heard how magical Raby Castle was for children and we were not disappointed in the least, we were so impressed with the whole morning and this event has started our December in the best possible way! How can you not feel all warm inside after this!
Cuddles from Father Christmas are the best!
Christmas at the castle!
After all of that fun it was time to get back to the car but not before a wander around the woodland park. We were kindly gifted this experience and have enjoyed working with Raby Castle. For more information on all of the events at Raby please contact their website: