Christmas with the National Trust

Christmas has landed at National Trust places across the Dorset. With festive markets, winter illuminations, enchanted houses, fairy tale stories, handmade garlands, seasonal food and gifts, here’s what Christmas looks, feels, sounds, smells and tastes like in and around Dorset this year.


Corfe Castle

Join the Lord of Misrule for storytelling of Christmas, spices and medieval festivities at Corfe Castle, made magical by contemporary lighting, lanterns, beacons and braziers. For little ones, there are crafts, a Spices of Christmas Castle Quest, and a wishing bridge where your own wish can be added. Pop into the tea-room for a winter warmer and see what festive treats the shop has to offer. You can even sing along with local choirs (December 8 and 13).


Hardy’s Cottage

From wintry walks through Thorncombe Woods, to carol singing by the roaring fire, you can experience the tastes, sights and sounds of a traditional Victorian Christmas at Hardy’s Cottage in Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester. The cottage is decked with natural decorations of evergreen collected from the garden and surrounding woodlands. There are treats for you to sample, prepared by volunteers using traditional recipes. On selected dates, music and storytelling bring added warmth to this festive visit.


Kingston Lacy

The lavishly decorated house in Wimborne tells the story of Edwardian Christmas traditions, drawing on the memories of former owner, Henrietta Bankes and her children. Henrietta’s Christmas lists and letters along with the children’s homemade story book, Gleanings from Schoolroomland and Christmas card albums have shaped the decorations.

The house brims with traditional decorations and sparkling trees inspired by the Christmases of the Bankes family, including modern installations created by two local artists. In the Drawing Room, open for the first time, precious items that the family made and gifted to each are on display. Families can have fun playing games in the lavish surrounds of the Saloon or visiting the Laundry to have a go at festive crafts.

After darkness, the garden is bathed in light: the light display takes inspiration from the stories of several members of the Bankes family. Visit Blind Walk to try your hand at an interactive light experience, bathing each tree in a bold colour at the touch of a button. For the first time this year, music to adds to the Christmas magic along parts of the trail, an animated display lights up the Fernery, and in the Rose Garden lights take inspiration from the many roses that bloom here in early summer.

In the Stables Café, there’s plenty of seasonal fayre to choose from. The café stays open until 7pm on illumination nights; perfect for warming up after wintry after-dark walks.


Max Gate

A festive welcome awaits you in the house in Dorchester, decked out for a Victorian Christmas with traditional decorations. It’s a treat for all the senses in the house; the smell of delicious yuletide treats cooked in the Kitchen greets you, which taste as good as they smell. Craft activities for children as well as Mummers plays and musical performances on selected dates bring the festivities to life.


Studland Bay

Winter walking and wildlife watching is on the agenda at Studland Bay. Brent geese are a common sight swimming just offshore, where they spend winters feeding on eelgrass, and along the water’s edge look out for sanderling: long legged, silvery-grey birds. At dawn and dusk, you may spot sika deer roaming. Warm up at the café and fire pit at Knoll Beach, with views over Studland Bay to Old Harry Rocks. Special Christmas pizzas are served fresh from the wood-fired oven, or more traditional roast turkey followed by Christmas pudding.