This December, the Queen is throwing open the doors of Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse for guests to celebrate the festive season. Visitors will be able to see the State Apartments in both official residences transformed with glittering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and dining tables laid for royal feasts.
At Windsor, the display will be open from 24 November to 5 January. The highlight will be the magnificent 20-foot-high Nordmann Fir tree in St George's Hall, taken from Windsor Great Park and entirely dressed in gold decorations. For the first time, guests will be treated to a series of immersive evening performances of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, transporting audiences into a Victorian Christmas.
Every Saturday at Windsor, families can enjoy festive arts-and-crafts workshops in the castle's Moat Room. Those visiting may want to plan their trip for the weekend of 9 and 10 December, when the special 'Festive Weekend' will feature a pop-up pantomime, storytelling, festive music, a floral display, decoration-making workshops and Bach to Baby concerts for under-fives.
Meanwhile in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse will be open from 1 December to 5 January. A 15-foot-high Christmas tree will be decked in white and silver in the Great Gallery, while the historic State Apartments will be draped with twinkling garlands and wreaths. Guests will be given a glimpse of a decadent royal feast in the Royal Dining Room, where the table will be laid with antique silver pieces and decorated with flowers, wreaths and spires of faux candied sugared fruits.
Dates to put in the diary include the Festive Family Day on 10 December, which includes a Christmas present trail, a family ceilidh, fancy-dress and face-painting, decoration-making workshops, and storytelling around the fireplace in the palace's Great Gallery. On 11 and 12 December, Christmas carols will be performed in the Great Gallery.
For tickets and more information, visit royalcollection.org.uk.