Warwick Castle’s Christmas tales could fill Santa’s sack thrice over and as the walls can’t talk, the castle’s History Team are thrilled to share its festive anecdotes.

Warwick Castle’s Christmas legacies, outlandish gift-giving and historical high jinks include 120-course banquets, civil war, tales of scandal, arrests and a baby elephant. In an unfortunate parallel Warwick Castle fell prey to Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan restrictions which saw no Christmas celebrations for 14 long years in the 1600s. 

In Warwick Castle’s magical ‘Christmas through the Ages’ tour, visitors will learn of the highs and lows of Christmas at the castle from its Anglo-Saxon beginnings to today. With war and politics, the festivities came and went, but in the late 19th century, Christmas firmly cements its festivities, with arguably the castle’s most flamboyant residents, the 5th Earl and Countess of Warwick, introducing Victorian Christmas in all its splendour.

Did you know….

- From 1649, under Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan rule, Christmas celebrations were made a punishable offence for 14 long years. While gentler restrictions were in place under the UK government in 2020, it wasn’t the first time the castle and families across England were forced to abstain from glorious festive celebrations!

But you can’t keep Christmas Down….

- The fifth Countess of Warwick, Daisy Greville was renowned for her Christmas parties. In 1878 she was to spend a whopping Christmas budget, equivalent today to £176,000 on food alone, including £34,000 on meat and £33,000 on wine. ‘Partying like Daisy’ is still an option today with the castle providing the ultimate party pad for anyone rising to the challenge!

- The Warwick Castle light tour dates back to 1895, a year after the first electric lights were turned on in the castle. Enter the grand Powder Ball, renowned for scandal and intrigue, hosted in a festive snow storm and illuminated by a magical trail of 5,000 fairy lights. Today Warwick Castle’s iconic light trail of 30,000 lights and dancing projection wind through the castle’s 64-acre grounds, providing magical merriment for all.

- A Christmas tree has stood tall in the Grand Hall every year since the 1890’s when the Greville family introduced the tradition. A long-standing tradition - and one much loved by visitors of all ages - even lockdown Christmas 2020 couldn’t stop the castle team erecting its infamous 20ft tree.

- In 1894, the castle was to see its most unusual Christmas gift with the Earl of Warwick buying his children their own baby elephant. The Greville’s were also well-known for their generosity to the local community and children with a Boxing Day gift-giving ceremony each year in the Great Hall. This Christmas, Warwick Castle is working with healthcare charity Kissing it Better and local school children, to create artworks for Castle Ward at Warwick Hospital, bringing cheer to patients being cared for on the ward and helping them feel connected to the outside world during their stay in hospital.

- Always taking its games seriously, and proving that a haunted castle never gets old, Warwick Castle’s ghost stories have been told through the ages and a pasttime of choice. Along with ‘Piggy Squeak’ and ‘Find the Thimble’, the Victorian period saw ghost stories by the fire as a favourite with the kids. Fast-forward to 2021 and the castle’s brand new Elf Workshop, in partnership with Orchard Toys, brings all the fun. Visiting families can work with the elves in the grandeur of the state dining room to build the exclusive ‘Race to Warwick Castle’ board game, designed for Warwick Castle by Orchard Toys.

- Christmas has always been a family affair at Warwick Castle. Former resident Daisy Greville would take the local children for rides on her elegant sleigh which can be seen each Christmas in the Great Hall.  Today, where we might not have the weather for a sleigh ride, families and children can skate on Warwick Castle’s magical ice-rink set in located at the foot of its iconic East Front and flanked by over 1,000 years of history and intrigue. A winter-wonderland on the impressive ‘East Front’.

Find out more at warwick-castle.com