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Decorated houses, frosty gardens and Christmas cheer in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire with the National Trust.

The nights are drawing in, it’s getting colder, and Christmas isn’t far away. It’s time to get into the festive spirit – and there’s no better way than visiting National Trust places all decked out for the season.

See historic houses decorated in the style of Christmases gone by, stroll through frosty winter gardens, discover festive crafts to try at home, and tuck into delicious seasonal treats.

For little ones there will also be a special Percy the Park Keeper winter trail at 122 National Trust places, so they can enjoy the great outdoors inspired by some of Nick Butterworth’s most beloved characters.

After all that, warm yourself with the knowledge that each festive day out supports the National Trust’s work as a charity looking after special places for future generations to enjoy.

Plus Percy the Park Keeper activity trail

nationaltrust.org.uk/percy

This winter, 122 National Trust gardens and parklands across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be inviting families to step into the wonderful world of Percy the Park Keeper.

In association with the best-selling author and illustrator Nick Butterworth the Percy the Park Keeper winter wander will introduce children and their families to the busy park keeper and his animal friends.

The self-led trail will invite families to join Percy’s team as he races to get the park and its animals ready for winter.

After reading Percy’s handwritten note and donning his famous hat, families will follow clues to help find Percy’s equipment and enjoy activities and games as they complete the trail.

At the end of the trail families can celebrate with a photo-op with Percy and they’ll take home a prize too.

Trail information

· Price: £2 per trail, plus normal admission applies.

See below for the National Trust’s pick of the best places and events in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire to help you celebrate the season.

Hughenden (near High Wycombe)

Hughenden is celebrating the nature, beauty and history of the gardens at Hughenden this Christmas, from their creation in the 1860s by Mary Anne Disraeli to the present day care of Hughenden’s garden team.

Mary Anne’s love of bright, bold colours is reflected in the colour scheme of vibrant reds, iridescent blue and gold. In the stableyard the 15 foot conifer tree features garden icons in miniature, from spades and trowels, to wheelbarrows and wellies. In the manor, Disraeli’s passion for trees and books is reflected in the library with wooden baubles hand carved by volunteers using wood from the Hughenden estate. The garden hall, with its beautiful views of the formal gardens features the showpiece of the Christmas theme; a glittering red blue and gold homage to Disraeli’s beloved peacocks who roamed the estate.

Saturday 20 Nov to Monday 3 Jan. 10am-4pm, last entry 3.30pm. House 11am-3pm, last entry 2.15pm. Numbers in the house are limited for safety, places available on a first come, first serve basis on the day only.

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Sat 4 Dec - Mon 3 Jan from 10am-3.30pm. Pick up your trail sheet from visitor reception when you arrive. Suitable for children aged 3-8 years.

Waddesdon (near Aylesbury)

Christmas at Waddesdon is back with magical lights and the gardens aglow in an enchanting outdoor extravaganza. As twilight falls, stroll under the stars beneath magically illuminated tree canopies transformed by moving light and playful installations. The rose garden will glow with flowers, there are giant dandelions and an interactive area with bubble tubes. For the first time ever, the Parterre gets in on the act with a light show highlighting the geometric shapes of the bedding. The Manor's facade will be bathed in dancing light set to music, and along Miss Alice's Drive, there's a display of lanterns and boats decorated by local schoolchildren.

The famous Christmas Fair is also back, where you can soak up the Christmas atmosphere and stock up on gifts from selected exhibitors in charming wooden chalets.

Christmas market 13 Nov-23 Dec 2021, Wed-Sun, 12noon-7pm. Booking necessary.

Light show in the grounds 13 Nov - 23 Dec. Wed to Sun. Booking necessary.

Stowe (near Buckingham)

The garden glistens with crisp frost in winter and the mist drifting across the lakes makes Stowe all the more mysterious and magical at this time of year. Once a hostelry, New Inn will be decorated to welcome you to Stowe in the spirit of festive cheer. There are also festive delights in the café and Christmas shopping in the shop.

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Sat 4 Dec – Mon 3 Jan 10am - 4pm, with last admission at 3pm.

Canons Ashby (just over the border in Northants)

Canons Ashby will be dressed in festive finery with traditional and natural decorations and hand-made paper displays. There’ll be a feast fit for the season in the Georgian Dining Room and photo opportunities in the Great Hall. There are Christmas wreath workshops in November and a traditional Christmas concert with Eboracum Baroque on Saturday 27 Nov, 5.30-6.30pm (book on the website).

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Sat 4 Dec – Sun 2 Jan. Pick up trails from visitor reception.

Cliveden (near Maidenhead)

Winter is a wonderful time of year to reconnect with family and friends on frosty walks in the great outdoors. There’s no better place to spend time making new memories or picking up where you left off in the 400 acres of gardens, woodland and riverside at Cliveden.

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Sat 4 Dec - Thurs 23 December. Meet by the Info Centre to collect a trail map.

Basildon Park (near Reading)

This year, Basildon Park is inviting the woodland into the house, and bringing lights to the wintry woodland. The walk up to the house is full of shadow and mystery throughout autumn and lights transform it in winter into a twinkling promenade of hope and reflection. Inside the house, a forest of Christmas trees awaits to delight the senses with the sounds of woodland animals, the smell of pine, orange and cinnamon and the gentle caress of cool, silky fir branches.

There are also wreath-making workshops to book along on the Basildon Park website from 26 November.

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Sat 4 Dec – Mon 3 Jan, 10am-4pm

The Vyne (near Basingstoke)

The mansion is luxuriously decorated for a Victorian Christmas this year. Ground floor rooms are filled with glittering Christmas trees and traditional decorations. An indoors family trail takes children on an adventure back in time. Enjoy wintery walks with beautiful views across fields, woods and wetlands, and warming mulled wine and mince pies in the café. 27 November – 2 January (closed 24 & 25 December)

Percy the Park Keeper’s winter wander

Sat 4 Dec – Mon 3 Jan

Greys Court (near Henley-on-Thames)

Greys Court is celebrating a family Christmas this year with Brunner family traditions, Christmas dinner on the dining table and handmade decorations. With the scent of real fir trees and music playing throughout the house, there'll be a nostalgic feel of happy Christmas memories spent with loved ones. There are candlelit tours to book on selected evenings in December for a cosy, festive experience in the house at Greys Court. If you're lucky on your visit, you may be able to sample some of Lady Brunner's gingerbread, lovingly baked to her recipe by our volunteers.

Chastleton (near Stow-on-the-Wold)

This Christmas we invite you to imagine the festive season as enjoyed by the first owner of Chastleton House, Walter Jones.

See the house decked in traditional Jacobean style, complete with dried flowers and greenery from the garden. As you wind your way through the decorated rooms, you may notice the scents of Christmas; wood smoke, oranges and spices. You might hear the sounds of the fire crackling in the grate, traditional lute music and the bustle of festivities.

Along the way you can discover stories of how the Jones family may have celebrated the season. Look out for the Great Hall, its table laid with the family pewter, glinting in the firelight. The kitchen will be the heart of festive preparation, with ale and food arriving through the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Sat 27 Nov – Sun 5 Dec 11am – 3pm, last entry into the house at 2.30pm

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