Hever Castle has been one of the best discoveries we’ve made this year for our family days out. It was a recent discovery, as I tend to stick to National Trust and RHS gardens as we have membership so it’s a ‘free’ visit, but Hever has fast become one that we love. And if you’re an RHS member, you can often visit Hever Castle for free during the week – it was news to me! We loved our visit back in the summer, and there was so much that we didn’t have time to see in one visit. So when we were invited to visit last weekend for their Christmas Alice in Wonderland Light Trail, we were all really excited.
Hever Castle is that typical image you have in your head of a castle – a moat and drawbridge, little cross windows, and ramparts lining the top. It was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and later to the wealthy Astor family, who worked hard on restoring it. It’s also said to be one of the most haunted places in the country!
Their Christmas theme this year is Alice in Wonderland, and both the decoration of the castle and the light trail follow this theme. We decided to time our arrival slightly later in the day so that we could do the light trail as it got dark, and we got there for around 2.30pm. We headed straight down to the castle, and I was really keen to see inside, as despite having visiting a few times before, we’d not yet made it into the castle!
The oak panelled walls give the castle such a grand feel, and they provide the perfect backdrop for a Christmas display. We loved the big fireplace as you arrived downstairs – Max warmed his hands up in front of it, and the smell as it roared away was amazing.
The next room we entered was all set up for a tea party, and it captured the whimsy and extravagance of Alice in Wonderland perfectly.
I loved this bedroom, with the glittery toy soldiers guarding the bed! So fancy.
We headed out of the castle and straight for the carousel, which was looking beautiful all lit up. Max didn’t want to go on one of the horses, but was keen to sit in the carriage (which I actually find makes me more dizzy than sitting on the horses!). The carousel has a cost of £1 per person, which is pretty reasonable.
He also loved the Hall of Mirrors and thought it was hilarious seeing me and him all stretched and shrunk.
By this point it was getting quite dark, so we headed over to start the light trail. The trail was really well set up for younger children. We’ve been on some in the past which have been perhaps more impressive, but have been a bit too long for our children’s little legs. This one was perfect!
You can choose to visit Santa at his grotto (drop in Father Christmas available on certain dates, but I would recommend pre-booking if you do want to see him). We skipped Father Christmas this time, but having seen photos on other people’s social media, he looks like a wonderful one!
We found a little house, and Max couldn’t resist climbing in and peering through the top windows, just like Alice.
And the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party was suitably bizarre, with a cow enjoying the tea and cakes!
I put together a little film of our day, which you can watch below.
Disclosure: We were invited to Hever Castle in exchange for this blog post.