Christmas at Calke Abbey

We love visiting large country estates whenever we get the chance. There is always something to appeal to everyone and plenty of outdoor space for the children to explore. Last weekend we used our National Trust membership to see how they celebrated Christmas at Calke Abbey.

Being a little disorganised, our first port of call was the cafe to make sure the children were all fed and watered. Hungry children can be relied upon to complain for the whole afternoon! Once they were fully recharged we wandered to a large vintage craft fare being held in a large stable block. Before we knew it I had persuaded Mr M to invest in some wonderful decorations from the 1940s and 50s!

Our next stop saw the children completing various craft activities. They made Christmas cards, paper chains and angels for our tree. This was really enjoyable and it was refreshing to see that all the activities were free. In the past we have been places where they find a way to charge you extra at every possible opportunity!

Christmas at Calke Abbey

Our next port of call was the Abbey itself. We have never been inside before. In fact, it is now closed for the Winter so they can clean and restore the property. They had opened a small portion of the house so we could see it’s magnificent tree and more importantly, so we could access the tunnels.

The dressed Christmas tree inside Calke Abbey

 Apologies for lots of grainy pictures ahead. My camera doesn’t do well in low light but I hope you get an idea of our surroundings.

Stuffed bulls head adorned with baublesEverything had been given a festive edge. Even the bulls head had baubles dangling from it’s horns!

Inside the tunnels at Calke Abbey

We were soon guided to the tunnels that would have been used to store beer and grains. The children were given lanterns and there was just (only just) enough light to stop us falling over!

A Christmas display in the tunnelAll the nooks and crannies had been given a Christmas theme

After navigating the tunnels, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, we went to the park while we waited for it to go dark. The estate normally closes at dusk but today it was open late so everyone could enjoy the grounds when they were lit up as dark fell.

Calke at dusk

The Christmas tree inside Calke Abbeys church

As the lights came on we saw a series of lanterns creating a pathway leading to the church. We walked through the forest, spotting lots of different light installations along the way. To be honest by now I was beginning to flag and the children were pretty tired too. Thankfully the church was worth the wait and was beautifully decorated.

Bauble inside a marble fontEven the marble font had been blinged!

Calke Abbey lit up with Christmas lights

The walk back was lovely and the view of the Abbey, all lit up, was wonderful. The whole afternoon had been a great success and everyone had a different favourite part of the day. I am proud of myself for staying on my feet (or should I say my crutches) for so long. I paid for it when I got home but it was totally worth it!

If you get the chance it is well worth going to see how they celebrate Christmas at Calke Abbey, or indeed at any large country house.


Country Kids



  1. 14th December 2017 / 8:36 PM

    I love Calke Abbey, I wish I could’ve seen it all decorated like that. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing with #pocolo

    • Louisa
      19th December 2017 / 4:31 PM

      I hadn’t realised you were so near to us! It is beautiful isn’t it?

  2. 14th December 2017 / 9:28 AM

    Looks like a great day out – we love doing National Trust Christmas events #CountryKids

    • Louisa
      19th December 2017 / 4:32 PM

      It was lovely thank you

  3. 13th December 2017 / 10:10 PM

    Love the bling-ed font – looks a great day out. And a cafe visit is always needed! Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

    • Louisa
      19th December 2017 / 4:25 PM

      It was well worth it for a visit to the cafe alone!

  4. 13th December 2017 / 9:43 PM

    Calke Abbey looks very pretty all lit up for Christmas. I love how the tunnels were also decorated too 🙂 #countrykids

    • Louisa
      19th December 2017 / 4:30 PM

      We hadn’t expected them to have put so much thought into the decor but it was well worth it

  5. 13th December 2017 / 9:08 PM

    This looks like great fun I am sure my eldest would like the tunnels! You can’t beat a National Trust property for a good Christmas celebration, I wish this one was closer to us as we would definitely give it a go #CountryKids

    • Louisa
      19th December 2017 / 4:26 PM

      I think we are lucky to have quite a selection of properties near to us

  6. 12th December 2017 / 1:25 PM

    I love Christmas and this looks like they put in a lot of festive effort. Mind you had me at cake. #countrykids

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:02 PM

      It really put us in the festive spirit!

  7. 12th December 2017 / 9:46 AM

    Oh wow, it looks lovely at this time of year. We know the grounds well as my best friend lives close by, but have never visited at this time of year, looks lovely #CountryKids

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:03 PM

      We like to take our dog for a walk in the grounds but have never been inside before either. We will definitely return for a full tour of the house when it reopens fully in spring

  8. 10th December 2017 / 5:00 PM

    Its beautiful! Im a sucker for anything underground so would have loved that bit. Your photos are lovely!

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:00 PM

      Thank you. Weren’t expecting to visit the tunnels but they were quite lovely

  9. 9th December 2017 / 9:29 AM

    I love the way they do special things like this for Christmas

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:04 PM

      They really put a lot of effort into making it magical

  10. 9th December 2017 / 9:15 AM

    Christmas at Calke Abbey is magical, I bet the kids loved discovering the decorations in every nook and cranny they could find! I’m impressed you managed to stick at it for so long but I bet seeing all those beautiful lights made the wait totally worth it. What a fab idea to give the kids lanterns to discover the tunnels, I bet that made it an even better experience.

    Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:19 PM

      It was hard towards the end but totally worth it. The lanterns were a lovely addition, they felt very Christmassy. The kids enjoyed hiding in the tunnels as well but fortunately didn’t jump out on any strangers!

  11. 9th December 2017 / 8:12 AM

    What an am amazing property, I love how every inch of it has been decorated…even the tunnels. #countrykids

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:05 PM

      The tunnels were a wonderful surprise!

  12. 9th December 2017 / 7:37 AM

    This looks absolutely beautiful. I love the way the National Trust decorates its properties and that they always lay on acitivities for the children. #countrykids

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:16 PM

      There were lots of crafts for the children to do which was a great bonus

  13. 9th December 2017 / 6:55 AM

    We love National Trust properties too. I’m hoping we get to visit a couple of our local ones this month. I love how they decorated all the books and crannies. And how lovely does the house look all lit up! #countrykids

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:14 PM

      We have lots of NT properties that we hope to visit next year, they normally make a great day out

  14. 8th December 2017 / 5:48 PM

    Hi Louisa, I bet the Abbey looked lovely in the ‘flesh’, very special. Seeing the place lit up as night fell sounds like fun, but I’m not sure I would have handled the cold, my moaning would probably have ruined the occasion. Well done for seeing through on crutches though.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:12 PM

      I am glad we went the weekend before the snow hit, I would have stayed at home and hibernated in that case! x

  15. 6th December 2017 / 8:59 PM

    Wow, that looks stunning and oh so pretty. How wonderful

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:08 PM

      It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon

  16. 6th December 2017 / 8:58 PM

    oh this looks fantastic! i am a massive Christmas Fair lover and country estates make the most christmassy trips dont they! .. your braver than me tackling the tunnels though!

    • Louisa
      12th December 2017 / 6:07 PM

      When I win the lottery I will buy my own country estate and it’ll be like Christmas all year!!

  17. 6th December 2017 / 10:07 AM

    The house looks so pretty, all lit up like that! What a stunning place. The National Trust do Christmas so well, don’t they?

    • Louisa
      6th December 2017 / 2:33 PM

      They really do, it definitely put us all in the Christmas spirit!

  18. 5th December 2017 / 9:04 PM

    What a lovely place to explore. It does look fun here 🙂 #MMBC

    • Louisa
      6th December 2017 / 2:33 PM

      It is a very beautiful estate

  19. 5th December 2017 / 7:24 PM

    What an experience, looks stunning and scary at the same time X #mmbc

    • Louisa
      6th December 2017 / 2:35 PM

      I never thought of it as spooky but it could be if you don’t like the dark. The kids thought it was very funny to jump out at me which did make me jump! x

  20. 4th December 2017 / 9:34 PM

    What a gorgeous place! Love the photos

    • Louisa
      5th December 2017 / 1:40 PM

      Thank you Carol. It is a beautiful building, even more so at this time of year

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