Castle Howard has a ball with record crowds for A Christmas Masquerade

The Great Hall at Castle Howard at Christmas , including the 26ft decorated tree. Picture: Charlotte Graham

CASTLE Howard’s Christmas opening drew a record 67,000 visitors as A Christmas Masquerade lit up the North Yorkshire stately home.

The figures have been released as the house, near York, closes for the winter, with teams busy removing dozens of Christmas trees, not least the 26ft tree that dominated the Great Hall and tens of thousands of decorations and baubles that graced every public room as part of Charlotte Lloyd Webber’s festive installation with a commedia dell’arte theme.

“It has been a superb year, and a real credit to those involved in making Castle Howard the most festive place to visit throughout November and December,” says chief executive officer John Hoy, who has enjoyed his second Christmas at Castle Howard.

Christmas at Castle Howard drew an extra 5,000 visitors by staying open until January 5

“For the first time, the house stayed open into the New Year, closing on Sunday, January 5 and enabling us to welcome over 5,000 additional visitors.”

Alongside the Christmas decorations, family traditions continued to be honoured with opportunities to meet Father Christmas, while Santa Paws took up residence in the estate’s garden centre to greet well-behaved dogs of all breeds and sizes for the first time. More Twilight Evenings, when the house stayed open after dark, were fitted into the seven-week opening.

The good weather throughout those seven weeks allowed families to enjoy Skelf Island, the new adventure playground, as part of the Christmas experience. Launched in July 2019, the playground has had a successful impact on footfall and, in addition, the Friends of Castle Howard membership has almost doubled, the scheme experiencing a 48 per cent rise throughout 2019.  

Although the house will be closed until March 21, the grounds, woodlands and Skelf Island playground remain open throughout the winter.