Chatsworth gardens light up for Christmas walks while house remains closed in Covid tier three

Anyone looking to add a little sparkle to their winter walks this month can head to Chatsworth where a new trail of Christmas illuminations is helping to spread some festive cheer in dark times.

By Ed Dingwall
Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 11:29 am

The estate has created a new Christmas trail for visitors looking for light relief from the ongoing restrictions of life in tier three.

In keeping with Government guidelines, the wide-open spaces of its 105-garden and 1000 acres of parkland remain open to visitors wanting to take a walk and get some fresh air.

Head of visitor experience Sally Ambrose said: “It’s such a difficult time for everybody right now so we wanted to keep the garden and parkland open to visitors because they are big spaces and can still be enjoyed safely.”

Lisa O’Hara, a recent visitor from Mablethorpe, said: “The house and gardens looked more beautiful than usual. My family and I had the most amazing time and cant wait to visit again when the house reopens.”

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire had hoped to welcome visitors back inside the house from December 3, with a visit to see the indoor Christmas displays an annual highlight for many families.

The Devonshire’s hope to be allowed to open from December 16, following the Government’s first review of the localised tiers, with tickets for the house on sale up to January 3.

In the meantime, people who had booked tickets to the house up to December 15 are being offered refunds.

The festive light installation at Chatsworth is an ideal way to brighten up a winter walk while Derbyshire remains under strict public health restrictions.

When the announcement was made on social media, hundreds of people expressed their disappointment.

Caroline Hibbert, from Manchester, wrote: “Very sad news for Chatsworth staff as they must have put in so much hard work already.

“It doesn’t seem right that a socially distanced event at Chatsworth is deemed a higher risk than taking a tube ride in London to go and meet your friends in a pub.”

Joe Kilner, from Rotherham, said: “It’s been a Christmas tradition for us for the last few years, seeing the decorated house, my children taking part in the nativity, and visiting the Christmas stalls.

“We’ve booked the garden though so hope all is not lost. Such a shame.”

Aristocrat Violet Manners, whose family host Christmas displays at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, also expressed frustration via her own social media channels.

She said: “It’s just a travesty that places like Chatsworth and Haddon Hall can't open their doors this Christmas.

“They spend months and months planning Christmas installations for us to enjoy.”

For now, Chatsworth’s car parks and takeaway picnic shops, the farmyard and gift shops are all open.

The estate farm shop in Pilsley continues to operate under its usual opening hours and a Covid-secure collection service is also available for people wishing to stock up on the best of Derbyshire food and drink.

The gardens are open each day from 10am to 5.30pm. Tickets cost £10 for adults, £5 for children, or £24 for a family of up to five.

All visitors must book in advance and specify an arrival time to help maintain social distancing.

For more information, see chatsworth.org.

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