Family Travel Blog

Castle Howard Christmas 2020 – Wish Upon a Frozen Star

Castle Howard Christmas 2020 – Wish Upon a Frozen Star

Christmas at Castle Howard – for us, Christmas would not be Christmas without a trip to Castle Howard and this year, being the unusual one it is, they have stepped up to the challenge with an outdoor illuminated Christmas trail

Bolder and brighter than ever, ‘Christmas at Castle Howard’ is set to inspire visitors with a brand-new outdoor concept for this year’s festive event, in partnership with world-class, award-winning illuminated projection specialists, ‘The Projection Studio’.

‘Wish Upon a Frozen Star’ will run from 28th November (with an exclusive preview evening for Friends of Castle Howard on Friday 27th November) until 31st December (excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)

‘Wish Upon a Frozen Star’ is an epic light and sound extravaganza, transforming the grounds of the Estate into a Winter Wonderland. An immersive experience to delight all age groups, that journeys into the realms of festive folklore, magic and mystery.

Jack Frost has cast his icy spell over The Walled Gardens, turning them into an enchanted, frozen Winter Kingdom. As the narrative unfolds, Christmas beckons, yet only a wish granted under the canopy of Yorkshire’s star-lit skies has the power to thaw Jack’s icy grip, revealing the golden glow of Yuletide with cheerful fireside scenes, sparkling Christmas trees, dancing and merriment… and of course, the anticipation of Father Christmas’ arrival on Christmas Day.

Christmas at Castle Howard

Atmospheric, imaginative and engaging, light projections and soundscapes are inspired by icons and symbolism from Castle Howard’s centuries old heritage, midwinter myths and familiar festive customs. The route has some interactive surprises and live action along the way, leading visitors from the courtyard, into the frost-stricken Rose Gardens, along the Lime Tree Avenue, and towards the Atlas Fountain, at which point the climax of the experience is an animated light show, projected onto the South façade of the House itself, revealing the spirit of Christmas.

The creative masterminds behind this epic event, are Ross Ashton & Karen Monid. Ross is an acclaimed projection designer, whose work is known to be exhilarating and thought provoking. Karen is an audio artist and designer; whose layers of sounds enrich the whole sensory experience.

Their creations have included globally important heritage, sporting, commercial and cultural events, including ‘Northern Lights’ at York Minster, The Royal Military Edinburgh Tattoo, London 2012 Olympics, and has even secured two Guinness World Records.

Ross Ashton of The Projection Studio commented,

“We were very pleased to be invited to work with Castle Howard this winter. Castle Howard is a jewel of British architecture and a beautiful and inspiring place to work. Being from Yorkshire myself, of course adds another level to working here. I believe that this will be the largest projection mapping at any illuminated garden this year, the House alone will be covered with over 8 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.”

christmas at castle howard
Buckingham Palace lit up by The Projection Studio

Karen Monid of The Projection Studio added,

I find the Castle Howard gardens to be fascinating! They are designed with as much thought as many buildings, and are places of beauty, intimacy, and even drama. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be creating sound pieces which connect with that sense of nature and grand display. To know that we will be bringing audiences right into the heart of that is very exciting for me, it’s what I love to do.”

Christmas at Castle Howard, near York

Nick Howard, Owner of Castle Howard Estate, commented,

With this year’s pandemic, of course it has been more challenging than ever to deliver our most important and much-loved event of the calendar year. More so than ever though, we are keen to bring friends and community together, whilst everyone’s health and wellbeing remains paramount. The task of delivering a world-class Christmas event in the current circumstances has in fact given us the opportunity for a fresh approach and thanks to our partnership with Ross and his team, and the tireless efforts of our in-house teams, I can honestly say that the forthcoming event promises to be very special indeed, and has certainly enabled us have new insight into what can be made possible.

castle howard at Christmas
Castle Howard at Christmas

Seasonal fayre and an array of festive shopping opportunities will complement the evening’s entertainment. Hot beverages and a selection of Yorkshire food will be served in the courtyard and from catering vans staged at intervals along the route and in the Boar Garden Food Court. Ticket sales and capacity are limited, and entry times will be staged along the illumination route, to allow the safe social distancing guidelines to be followed.

A Christmas evening at Castle Howard can be combined with a visit to see Father Christmas, and his magical companion WonderPhil in the splendour of the Long Gallery in the House. There will also be a daytime grotto in the Courtyard. (separate pre-booking is required for these events, and available on selected dates between Sat 28th Nov, and Weds 23rd Dec)

Whilst visiting ‘Wish Upon a Frozen Star’ seize the opportunity to make the most of the visit and soak up the festive atmosphere with some Christmas shopping. Stock up on locally sourced seasonal produce and Christmas pantry treats in the Estate’s Farm Shop, seek out more unusual gift ideas in the Gift Shops, or even buy your real Christmas or artificial Christmas tree to take home with you.

Need to Know

  • ‘Wish Upon a Frozen Star’ will run from 28th November (with an exclusive preview evening for Friends of Castle Howard on Friday 27th November) until 31st December (excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
  • Tickets for the event go on sale to the public on Saturday 3rd October (see website for full details on how to book) priced £21 – £17 adults and £15 – £12 per child
  • ‘Early Bird Booking Offer’ – Book on, or before, Weds 21st Oct to receive a £2 discount per person (applies to full price and members’ price tickets too)
  • Friends of Castle Howard enjoy an exclusive showing at 4pm each day, as well as discounted tickets on all days, and a 48-hour pre-sale ticket availability – for details on becoming a ‘Friend’, please see our website.
  • Two early evening ‘relaxed’ sessions are dedicated to visitors who may not benefit from it being completely dark, BSL interpretation and lower sound levels, 9th and 10th December at 3pm – please see our website for more information on these specific dates.
  • Kindly note that pre-booking is essential and that the event attendance numbers and staggering the journey via the prescribed route will be carefully managed to protect visitor and staff wellbeing (For our Covid safety measures and guidelines, please see website)
  • Car parking for the evening light show event will be £5 in the Visitor Car Park, with free parking for Friends of Castle Howard. For those visiting the Gardens or shops and cafes during the daytimes, parking remains free of charge.

For more information, please visit





Yorkshire Wonders

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