Castle Howard delights in stories in fairtyale Christmas installation Into The Woods

The Nutcracker in Into The Woods at Castle Howard. All pictures: Peter Seaward

CASTLE Howard’s winter installation, Into The Woods, A Fairytale Christmas is drawing record numbers.

After the frosted, icy spectacle of Christmas In Narnia last winter, Charlotte Lloyd Webber Event Design and The Projection Studio have returned to transform North Yorkshire’s stateliest home’s grand rooms into a “wonderland of happily-ever-afters, fair maidens, magical forests and faraway kingdoms”, bringing cherished fairy tales to life with a sight-and-sound combination of theatrical installations and state-of-the-art soundscapes.

“All around the house, tales which have drifted through the forests of our memory since early childhood now weave amongst each other to conjure up the world of once-upon-a-time,” say Nicholas and Victoria Howard in the visitors’ guide.

“Reinvented again and again, these fairytales are as much a part of our heritage as the walls of this house and its towering dome. Their names alone are enough to plunge us into the warm milk of childhood memories.

“Weave your way through this magical fairytale world and who knows? Maybe you’ll live happily ever after your visit to a Christmas like no other.”

Creating A Fairytale Christmas’s world of fantasy, inspired by Stepehen Sondheim’s 1987 musical Into The Woods, is the work of a multi-disciplined team, headed by artistic director/interior designer Charlotte Lloyd Webber and design director Adrian Lillie, co-directors of CLW Event Design.

The Christmas table at Into The Woods at Castle Howard

Senior designer Dave O’Donnell, sculptor Mandy Bryson, model and prop designer Mark and the floristry team of Laura Newby and Celina Fallon play their part.

So does the Production Studio duo of video projection designer Ross Ashton and sound designer/audio artist Karen Monid, whose light and sound installation Platinum And Light illuminated the nave of York Minster from October 20 to 27 this autumn, just as their Northern Lights installation had done so in October 2019.

Charlotte and Adrian have known each other for 25 years – originally as an actress/producer and costume designer respectively – and have overseen the magical winter transformations of Castle Howard for six years.

“This gig came about slightly by accident,” recalls Adrian. “We’d come up to do some outdoor Shakespeare, but the programme planning changed. Victoria [Howard] then said, ‘we need someone to design a Christmas installation. Do you know anyone who could do it?’. We thought, ‘well, we could’!

“That first year, we were very conscious of taking it back to the house’s roots, to architect John Vanbrugh’s theatrical roots. We used a lot of dry floristry and delicate fabrics, and we soon found we needed a lot more ‘product’ as it can be sucked up in such grand rooms.

“Year on year, we lay on more and more, and so Into The Woods is our most ambitious installation yet.” Be it Rapunzel’s tower looming over the Great Hall, where her golden braid offers an escape route; Jack’s giant beanstalk, winding its way around a steel construction up to the roof of the Garden Hall, or the 20,000 baubles glittering in room after room.

York artist Emily Sutton’s artwork for the Into The Wood press invitation, publicity leaflet and visitors’ guide

“We use ‘filler’ from the previous year’s story, like on the China Landing, where the materials have been used before, but with a new top layer created for the new theme,” says Adrian of a scene where the mirror forms the archway into the woods.

“We still re-use items from the first year; we use paper and silk, we avoid plastics, so we’re always thinking about sustainability. For the last four years, the big Christmas tree had come from Scotland but to discover there were suitable trees on the Castle Howard estate for this Christmas was wonderful.”

This year, CLW Event Design also created Bamburgh Castle’s Christmas installation, The Twelve Days Of Christmas – whose first version was on display at Castle Howard in 2018 – as the Lloyd Webber-Linnie partnership thrives on ever-growing challenges. “We’ve worked together so long, we finish each other’s sentences,” says Adrian.

“We learn more every year, thinking outside the box, trying to be more outrageous and bringing in the team to get their ideas – and we have an incredibly strong team now, who are so encouraging.”

Adrian revelled in doing the Long Gallery finale for the first time this year for Prince Charming’s Ball, with its golden coach and lavish gowns, but his favourite is the Music Room, where the Elves must deal with a massive order of party shows for the upcoming ball.

The Wicked Queen Grimhilde, the Snow Queen, the Wolf, Princess Aurora, Red Riding Hood, Rapuunzel and Gretel have all submitted their measurements. “That room has a really lovely feel,” says Adrian. “It required lots of shoe shopping online and buying in sales! For all the joy I had with the costumes, finding the right boots and shoes has been a lot of fun too, capturing each character in their footwear.”

Castle Howard ventures into fairytales for Christmas

Look out for Red Riding Hood’s thigh-high boots, the big bad Wolf’s killer heels in polka dots and the Sugar Plum Fairy’s ballet shoes, gorgeous all of them!

Audio artist Karen Monid took on a new task for Into The Woods. “There are voices in the installation this time [such as Francine Brody for Wicked Queen Grimhelde and Beth Hayward for the Witch], and because each room focuses on a particular tale and character that I could draw on, I then had to pick the right emotion,” she says.

“Charlotte produces her mood board to say what each room represents, and I also had to be aware that it’s a trail with a beginning and an end. Last year it was easier because it was just one story [C S Lewis’s The Chronicles Of Narnia]; this year there are so many stories and characters; at least ten stories, four of them in the first four rooms [Princess Aurora, alias Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel and Snow White].

“The most difficult was the fourth one [the Castle Howard Bedroom], where Snow White’s mother is essentially dead and the Wicked Queen is very much alive. You think, ‘how do I do that in sound in one room?’. I decided to treat the mother like a ghost, so even though the new queen has moved in, there’s always an echo of the mother she could have had from before, with the angelic quality of the harp playing, which then fades away as more strident music comes in.”

Attention to detail is paramount, from the Goose honking to the elves starting to hammer when an alarm goes off. “The passing of time and the sense of the tempo picking up runs through the installation [leading to the clock striking 12 at Prince Charming’s ball]. If you pick up on the chimes as you walk round, you will find that the time is getting later,” says Karen.

“In Hansel & Gretel’s room [the Castle Howard Dressing Room], the cuckoo clock strikes three; in the ‘creators’ room’ [the New Library] for The Nutcracker, the clock strikes six in a scene with a steam punk edge to it. In the Crimson Dining Room, the Sugar Plum Fairy is a clockwork figure.

The beanstalk climbs to the Garden Hall ceiling in the Into The Woods installation. Look out for the tiny figure of Jack starting his ascent

“That’s why this installation feels so full, with all that detail, like the music changing to reflect the origins of each story, some being French, some German, and only one English, Jack And The Beanstalk.”

Listen to the female voices. “All the good female characters sing, while the bad characters only speak, and they say too many words, like the Witch still talking in the Great Hall while Rapunzel is singing in her tower,” says Karen. “Music is of the heart, connecting with the soul, that’s why they sing.

“I love it when Rapunzel hits her high notes and the glass shatters. ‘Lovely,’ says Rapunzel! That brings a pantomime touch to it, but you always know you’re in their world.”

Ross, who voices the Giant in the Jack And Beanstalk scene, has brought his projection skills to the Octagon Room, as he did last year for Narnia, Aslan the lion and Father Christmas, and now the Long Gallery too.

“We designed a system for the Long Gallery with as little impact on the space as possible, so you’re not aware of the equipment I use, such as the low-key projector stands,” he says.

“It’s something I learnt when projecting onto Buckingham Palace. No-one wants to see the wires or gaffer tape. Now we’ve done this year’s design, we’ll do even more with it next year.”

Attention to detail in Castle Howard’s Into The Woods installation

As in Sondheim’s musical, the characters from different fairytales interact and conjoin in the story, leading to the happy-ever-after vibe of the young characters turning up as their teenage selves for a party.

That ties in with Charlotte’s desire for regeneration, renewal and sustainability in CLW Event Design’s future. “Everyone took stock during Covid, thinking about ‘what are the events that can address the bigger issues [the environment, climate change] in a joyous way, rather than doom and gloom?’,” she says.

“I come from the world of entertainment but entertainment with a purpose, telling a story in a real-life context.

“We have so little manufacturing left in this country, but if we can find glass manufacturers here, bauble makers here, rather then having to import them from China, people who make things out of wood, if we could rely on cottage industries over here, keeping them in work, that would be a good policy for our installations.

“Next year, I’m hoping to really build that up, starting locally, then regionally, then nationally, rather than importing.”

Into The Woods, A Fairytale Christmas enchants at Castle Howard, near York, until January 2 2023. Tickets:

The “creators room”, evoking The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Professor Drosselmeyer amid a multitude of Nutcrackers in Castle Howard’s New Library

Castle Howard’s fairtyale Christmas installation goes online for virtual tour

FOR the first time, a virtual tour of Castle Howard’s Christmas installation is available to watch online.

The North Yorkshire stately home, near York, has created a 37-minute video of Into The Woods: A Fairytale Christmas for those who “who can’t visit in person, from international tourists who are still facing travel restrictions to Yorkshire locals unable to get out and about as easily”.

The online video offers a detailed exploration of Into The Woods’ fairytale-themed installation that fills Castle Howard’s grand rooms with decoration, soundscapes and projections.

The tour is presented by CLW Event Design artistic director Charlotte Lloyd Webber, who reveals behind-the-scenes details and the creative team’s inspirations room by room.

Abbigail Ollive, head of marketing, sales and programming, says: “Christmas at Castle Howard is famous for its wow factor, and we welcome thousands of visitors through our doors this time of year.

“We wanted to create an enchanting virtual tour that allowed people to experience the magic from their own homes, including local people who can’t get to us; people across the UK who can’t travel to us, and international tourists who are still limited by travel restrictions.”

Profits from the Into The Woods in person and the Virtual Tour experience will be directed towards Castle Howard’s conservation deficit to restore and protect the historic buildings and beautiful landscape stewarded by the estate.

The Virtual Tour is available via for£8, giving viewers unlimited access to watch the video. No closing date for this online service has been set yet.

It may be warm outside for this time of year, but the White Witch has turned Castle Howard to ice for Christmas In Narnia

On the home straight: Christmas In Narnia at Castle Howard, All pictures: Charlotte Graham

THE last chance to experience Christmas In Narnia fast approaches at Castle Howard, near York, where magical furniture and storybook scenes have been installed this winter.

Inspired by C S Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, the North Yorkshire country house invites visitors to step through the wardrobe door to explore a world of festive adventure in a dazzling interpretation of the places familiar to Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. 

“For our displays, visitors don’t just step into the world of Narnia, they retrace the steps of the Pevensie children from their familiar surroundings at the home of Professor Digory Kirke into the world of perpetual winter ruled over by the White Witch,” says Charlotte Lloyd Webber, who has returned to Castle Howard for a fourth year to orchestrate the displays that run through through the John Vanbrugh-designed house. 

“Taking our explorers through the bedrooms of the children gives a hint of the character traits that become amplified in the magical world, before we step out of the wardrobe into the frozen lands.”

A soundscape by Karen Monid accompanies the trip around the house, evoking both the 1940s and the magical world to add an extra dimension and atmosphere to the visit.

Once back on the China Landing, the imposing door of the mirrored wardrobe awaits: the traditional entry point to Narnia. Stepping through a tunnel of fur coats, once through the wardrobe, visitors will discover that icy fingers of frost have touched every part of the path with a blizzard of white.

Stepping through the wardrobe door…

In the distance, the lamp-post marker surrounded by Mr Tumnus’s abandoned presents beckons visitors into a frozen world, where the White Witch’s enemies have been turned to stone. The Antique Passage is filled with frozen animals, twigs and icicles.

The Great Hall is usually the warm heart of the Castle Howard Christmas displays, but not this time. Under the White Witch’s icy gaze, the evergreen tree – standing at 28ft, making it probably the largest real indoor decorated tree in the country – has been caught in a snowstorm.

Every branch is covered with snow and thousands of icicles, together with a constellation of tiny, glistening white lights.  Placed centrally beneath the dome, it is as though the spruce tree has grown out of the floor.

Stepping from the Great Hall into the Garden Hall, visitors enter the epicentre of the self-proclaimed Queen of Narnia’s domain, and there they find the White Witch, larger than life, frozen in time and covered in hundreds of icicles, on board her sleigh.  Projections and sounds bring the scene to life and continue into the White Witch’s palace. 

An icy passageway through the Cabinet rooms leads out of the land of snow, whereupon visitors return to the warmest and most comfortable place in all Narnia: Mr Tumnus’s house. The snow has started to melt and elements of the forest have taken refuge, winter evergreens growing over the fireplace, with its roaring blaze, and real trees creating a sylvan atmosphere.

The re-emergence of Christmas comes with the Fox’s dining room, set out for a magnificent feast with his woodland friends beneath an arbour dressed in glittering red to create a canopy above the table. 

An icy passageway at Castle Howard

Celebrations continue next door with the colours of the ocean in the Turquoise Dining Room, providing a backdrop for Narnia’s mermaids, singing at the coronation of the Pevensie children.

Onwards to the Long Gallery, where visitors will marvel as they mark the return of Aslan – and Father Christmas – to the magical kingdom. Stepping through another wardrobe door, they encounter suspended rainbow wooden Christmas trees and dancing lights en route to the Octagon, where the four thrones of the Pensive Kings and Queens await.

Located directly above the four thrones is a new feature for this winter, bringing the Octagon ceiling into play through the magic of projection, courtesy of digital-mapping pioneer Ross Ashton and Karen Monid, the team behind the Northern Lights light and sound installation at York Minster in June 2018 and October 2019.

The ceiling appears to open to reveal a starry sky above with an animation that evokes the very essence of Christmas. 

Narnia would not be the complete without its noble lion. A giant model of Aslan, fashioned from pages from the CS Lewis novels painted gold, oversees the Long Gallery, surrounded by sculptures of other woodland animals.

The visit concludes in the Castle Howard Chapel, where a Nativity scene has been laid out by the main altar, and where Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s donation tree stands, dressed with wooden ornaments decorated by children from Slingsby Primary School.

Bretta Gerecke stands by the Great Hall’s 28ft spruce tree, “caught in the White Witch’s snowstorm, every branch covered with snow and thousands of icicles and a constellation of tiny white lights”

“We are incredibly proud of this winter’s displays and very grateful to our friends at Harper Collins for permitting us to tell the Narnia story in Castle Howard’s unique way,” says the Hon Nicholas Howard, guardian of Castle Howard. 

“The displays look marvellous at any time of the day, but I am particularly fond of the late afternoon and evening, as the light fades outside, making the glow of all the lights and candles inside the house seem just that little brighter.  Even when you step back outside of the house into the winter evening, the avenue of illuminated trees running the length of the drive looks picture perfect.”

To reduce crowding, fewer people have been allocated a place per time slot, prompting the Castle Howard team to open the house until later on Saturdays throughout the run and Friday evenings in December.

“In previous years, we’ve hosted twilight visits on occasional evenings as we moved closer to the festive season, but this year, we’re adding soundscapes and projections that look particularly spectacular as the daylight fades,” says Abbigail Ollive, head of marketing. 

Christmas In Narnia at Castle Howard is the work of the returning Charlotte Lloyd Webber and Bretta Gerecke and their team of specialist designers, lighting experts and even a “baublographer”, whose task was to instal dozens of trees, thousands of baubles and tens of thousands of fairy lights for the displays. 

“When it came to planning this year’s installation, the Howard family were very keen that it should go back indoors and Narnia was a great idea. Nick [Nicholas Howard] used to work in publishing and had a very good relationship with the C S Lewis estate,” says Charlotte.

“It absolutely makes sense to do a story theme in a house like this, which was designed by a dramatist,” says Charlotte Lloyd Webber

“Victoria [Howard] had always been resistant to stories previously, but now, after seeing Christmas In Narnia, she’s saying, ‘OK, what’s next?’!

“It absolutely makes sense to do a story theme in a house like this, which was designed by a dramatist [Vanbrugh].”

Bretta agrees. “The rooms in this house feel episodic, suiting story scenes, and the apotheosis is how the Long Gallery is set out.”

Going back to the original books for inspiration for these displays has been a “fantastic” experience for Charlotte’s team. “C S Lewis writes with such colour and attention to detail, and yet it has given us scope to put our own individual interpretation on this magical world to weave familiar parts of Castle Howard into the story,” she says.

Charlotte finds resonance in 1940s’ wartime experiences being echoed by the pandemic’s lockdowns and restrictions of 2020 and 2021. “What struck us was the poignancy of the four children going through the worst disaster of the 20th century, the Second World War, and now we’re going through the worst disaster of the 21st century so far.

“What we wanted to do was emphasise the sense of stepping out of what’s happening in the world now, to step through the wardrobe door into the magical world of Narnia.”

The Octagon ceiling “opens to let in the universe”

Ross Ashton talks of a prevailing feeling of doom and existential crisis being lifted by experiencing Christmas In Narnia, before Bretta adds: “That’s what makes the pay-off in the Long Gallery so rewarding. That sense of hope. That final room is joyful and hopeful, but you have to have some tragedy first to have that release of potential joy.”

The Christmas displays at Castle Howard always take the form of a journey, but this year the experience has expanded to become multi-sensory, heightened by Ross Ashton’s projection and Karen Monid’s soundscape. “One of the things about the sense of sound is that it happens in real time and you have to be constantly alive to that, to let it reveal itself, as we can only take in things in real time too,” she says.

“It is the sound that envelops you, goes all around you, giving a voice to the room and the design, and because we’re telling a story in each room, the sound has to respond to that. I had to make a decision, room by room, as to what the important sounds should be.”

Rather than arriving with a fixed soundtrack for the 38 rooms, Karen had to consider the acoustics of each room, “rooms that could ring like bells,” she says. “When it came to choosing the sound of the wind, I went for a low-pitched variation, so it could travel down the passageways without having to turn the volume up.

“The Garden Room and the Great Hall have the same wind sound too; the idea is that it should keep pulling you onwards. That’s why I’ve tuned the winds all in the same key.”

Every detail is planned carefully. “There are curated tracks in the rooms, such as for the Mermaids’ music, which I put together with no bass in it because I wanted to take that weight out of the sound, so you feel lifted,” says Karen.

Aslan, the lion, made from paper from the C S Lewis books

When Karen and Ross work in tandem on a project, the sound always comes first, and then Ross plays his creative hand. “It’s the end result you’re interested in,” he says. “You react to the space; Castle Howard has a theatrical design and this space is a gift. Here it’s a half dome, an octagon, and in the room, there’s all this amazing décor to wonder at.

“It’s an unusual space; you look at it to see how it inspires you and I think it has an Arabic feel to it, with that Eastern flavour being different to Narnia – and of course Aslan is the Turkish word for ‘lion’.”

Ashton’s constantly moving animated projection design “opens the roof to reveal the universe to give a spectacular ending to the trail”. “You see Aslan, and of course the lion is the emblem of Castle Howard, and you see Father Christmas too, who turns up at the end of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe,” he says.

How can Charlotte and her team trump Christmas In Narnia? “That’s what we try to do each year…but it’s not a competition!” she says. “Next year we’ll find something totally different for a theme, maybe a fairytale, but definitely totally different.”

Christmas In Narnia runs at Castle Howard until January 3. All time slots are sold out, but any returns automatically will become available to book via Tickets include timed access to the house, with full access to the gardens and adventure playground.

Wish Upon A Frozen Star outdoor spectacle at Castle Howard frozen out by Covid

Cancelled: Wish Upon A Frozen Star at Castle Howard

WISH Upon A Frozen Star, this season’s illuminated Castle Howard Christmas event, has been cancelled “with great sadness”.

In response to the Government enforcing national Lockdown 2 from today until December 2, the senior team at the North Yorkshire country house has “spent a lot of time trying to find ways to make the light show event work”.

“However, the conclusion is that it is not logistically or financially viable to try to delay the get-in period and the opening of the event,” reads today’s official statement.

Wish Upon A Frozen Star would have combined a light-trail walk through the Walled Gardens, a performance of a 20-minute theatre piece by York playwright Mike Kenny, presented by Leeds children’s theatre company Tutti Frutti, and a light show projected onto the façade of the John Vanbrugh-designed late-17th century house by projection designer Ross Ashton’s company The Projection Studio, experts in delivering magical illuminated outdoor events.

When Wish Upon A Frozen Star was first announced, Ross said: “Castle Howard is a jewel of British architecture and a beautiful and inspiring place to work. I believe that this will be the largest projection mapping at any illuminated garden this year; the house alone will be covered with over eight million pixels.

“Creating the light trail and the projection in this year especially has been a challenge and we salute Castle Howard for having the vision to create something new.”

Billed as a “festive outdoor spectacle like no other”, the hour-long Christmas event would have run from November 27 to December 31, replacing the usual themed spectacular Christmas decoration tour through the house.

Playwright Mike Kenny

Castle Howard’s website says: “All bookers will be contacted by See Tickets to organise refunds and we thank you for your support and understand there will be many disappointed people.

“We are extremely disappointed ourselves not to be able to make this new magical event happen this year, but the safety of our staff, our visitors and the financial stability of the organisation have to take priority to ensure we can come back next year with another Christmas event that will once again surprise and delight our visitors.

“We’d like to say a huge thanks to our creative partners on these events, who have worked so hard alongside Castle Howard to explore every option during the past few months and particularly given the lockdown news we received at the weekend.”

What will Wish Upon A Frozen Star ticket holders now be missing? Picture the scene: Jack Frost has cast an icy spell, turning the Castle Howard Walled Gardens into a beautiful winter wonderland.

As twilight falls, you would journey through this enchanted world lit up by festive illuminations and immersive soundscapes. The only way to thaw the frosty spell and bring good cheer back in time for Christmas is to make a wish under Yorkshire’s starry skies and step out into a golden landscape of warmth, joy and wonder.

Your journey would climax with an epic story, projected as a light show by Sheffield-born Ross Ashton, who created the Northern Lights installation for York Minster in June 2018 and October 2019.

Working in tandem with audio artist and designer Karen Monid, whose layers of sounds enrich the sensory experience, he also has lit up the exterior of Buckingham Palace and Durham Cathedral and provided lighting extravaganzas for the 2012 London Olympics and the Edinburgh Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle.

Tutti Frutti and writer Mike Kenny had been working with the creative lighting and sound team to bring to life the characters to be discovered as you adventure through the light trail.

The Projection Studio’s design for Wish Upon A Frozen Star on the Castle Howard facade. Picture: The Projection Studio

On your journey though Jack Frost’s frozen kingdom you would meet the live action animals who have fallen foul of the icy spell and would need you to wish for Christmas and warmth to return to their world.

The animal characters would interact with audiences on the walk through the Walled Gardens, in a socially distanced way, both keeping the flow of visitors moving and telling magical and humorous stories along the way. Olivier Award-winning Kenny was writing the live-action material to be performed by a cast of five, directed by Tutti Frutti artistic director Wendy Harris, with costumes designed by Catherine Chapman.

For the light show event, timed ticketing, limited capacity and careful management of the socially distanced visitor flow of parties of up to six to the large South Front lawn would have been the Covid-safe measures.

Mike Kenny says: “It all started with the visual idea for the big lighting show and we came on board later when Abbi [Castle Howard head of marketing Abbigail Ollive], with her theatre background, suggested adding actors and a narrative.”

He came up with a story rooted in Christmas in the shadow of Covid. “Jack Frost has frozen the gardens, so there’ll be no Christmas and Father Christmas is being kept out. Only a battle between Father Christmas and Jack Frost can resolve this.”

The conundrum faced by Mike was the need to keep the drama as well as the audience on the move, “rather than being rooted to the spot or creating a log jam”. “In the gardens, the actors would not be in touch with each other, not close enough to communicate, so the stories wouldn’t have too much narrative because it wouldn’t matter if the audience members didn’t catch everything when they were constantly on the move,” he says.

Mike would have worked further on the script in situ, discovering what would and would not have been possible, but he had settled on the story featuring animals that would have been most affected by a frozen winter.

“I learnt that in that situation, animals either migrate, hibernate or store food,” he says. “We chose animals you would find in the Castle Howard gardens, without going the full Enid Blyton on it, and we gave them human personas connected with the house.

Northern Lights at York Minster. Picture: The Projection Studio

“The Robin had the character of a steward or butler, greeting audience members as they went into the gardens. The Squirrel was the gardener; the Hedgehog, the housekeeper; the Peacock, the Lady’s maid, with a Cinderella vibe to her, dressing in her mistress’s posh clothes, and the Rabbit, the scullery maid.”

Mike does not hide his disappointment at Wish Upon A Frozen Star not going ahead. “To have pulled something out of the hat for Christmas was great, and we were all really fired up for doing a show,” he says. “The whole Covid situation has sapped the energy of the creative industries, but this Christmas event would have looked amazing.

“The Castle Howard architecture has its own theatricality, which was such a gift for us. You can tell that someone with a sense of theatre had his hand in it [playwright turned architect John Vanbrugh]!”

No-go for Wish Upon A Frozen Star, but Castle Howard is continuing to plan for both Father Christmas in the House and the Courtyard Grotto from Friday, December 4.

“We have had to cancel Father Christmas performances in the House from November 28 to December 3 due to lockdown restrictions,” the Castle Howard statement reads. “See Tickets will be in touch with bookers to offer refunds on these performances or try to get you into a later show.

“It is our sincere hope that performances from December 4 will be allowed to continue. For people who booked Father Christmas tickets in conjunction with the light show, we will be contacting you directly to refund a proportion of your ticket. 

“If you would like to cancel your Father Christmas tickets – either Enchanted Audience with Father Christmas or the Storytime with Santa Grotto – because you cannot now come to the light show, then this is fine and you will be offered a refund. Please bear with us while we work through all bookers with our partners at See Tickets.”

Wish Upon A Frozen Star may have been frozen out by the ongoing Corona crisis, but Castle Howard’s website affirms the possibility of revisiting the collaboration: “We certainly hope, and intend, to continue the partnership with The Projection Studio, Tutti Frutti and our associated production teams on future events,” it says.