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Our little black book of enchanting places


Britain's poshest Christmas fairs by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Naturally, at Travelwrap Towers we do most of our Christmas shopping online, but even we have to admit that sitting at a computer screen is not very Christmassy. So to top up on our festive spirit, we usually head for a Christmas fair, preferably in a stately home or castle. There’s nothing like a glass of mulled wine in posh surroundings, we find, to bring on feelings of Comfort and Joy. These are the five festive fairs we’ll be choosing from this year.

Bowood House Christmas Extravaganza, Wiltshire

25-27 November 2015

Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s 18th-century home (above) is closed to the public at this time of year, but it reopens for three days in November to host Bowood’s Christmas Extravaganza, which raises funds for the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust. Stalls laden with handmade toys, sculptures, fashion, table decorations and candles spread from the restaurant, through the Sculpture Gallery and on to the Robert Adam Orangery. There is a licensed café serving light lunches and tea, and opening the event is a ticketed cocktail party, with carols in the private family chapel. Entry, £6 in advance or £8 on the door; Cocktails & Carols, £15Sandringham Christmas Fair, Norfolk

20-22 November 2015

Sandringham is The Queen’s private estate and where she and her family usually spend Christmas, but no, she won’t be manning the fair’s novelty mug stall. There will, however, be a vast array of country crafts, gifts, and food, plus a twice-daily pantomime on Saturday and Sunday, and exhibitions by a band of chainsaw-carving Christmas elves (what else?), with the results being auctioned off. Entry, £6.50The Country Brocante Winter Fair at Cowdray, West Sussex

28 November 2015

This rather special country ‘brocante’ takes place for the first time in the grounds of Cowdray House, the former family home of the 4th Viscount and Viscountess Cowdray. A collection of beautifully decorated marquees will be filled with homeware, French furniture, textiles and unique gifts. There’ll be a food tent, wreath-making demonstrations and a tour of the estate, if you fancy a look round. Entry, early birds £10 between 9am-11am; £5 from 11am-5pm.Chatsworth Christmas Market, Derbyshire

Until 29 November 2015

Any excuse to go to Chatsworth, one of our very favourite English stately homes. The Christmas Market is every bit as vast as the house, with more than 100 stalls offering everything from Christmas gifts and decorations to homeware, crafts and clothing. There are outdoor bars serving mulled cider and German beer and you certainly won’t go hungry with an array of hot food, from gourmet burgers to churros. Entry is free but pretty much the only way to get to Chatsworth is to drive and parking is £5 on weekdays and £10 at weekendsScottish Christmas Market, Glamis Castle, Angus

11-13 December 2015

The childhood home of The Queen Mother and the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth is rather a long way to go for a Christmas Market and we will probably have to miss out this year. But for Christmas shoppers north of the border, it’s a great excuse for visiting Scotland’s finest castle (it also has a particularly well-curated gift shop), particularly as Santa will be there. Entry, £11 per adult; £8 per child, which includes a fascinating 50-minute tour of the house and access to the gardens and grounds

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