SLEEPING beauty is lying on a four-poster bed in the sculpture room, there’s a ticking crocodile in the oak room and a wicked witch in the great dining room.
Oh yes, there really is a pantomime theme to Chatsworth House this year as the halls are well and truly trimmed up for Christmas. The home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is a magical setting at any time of year but none more so than when the festive season gets under way.
And this year, they deserve a standing ovation for their efforts. Down to every little detail, the house is an absolute joy to behold and would bring a smile to even the most scrooge-like of folk.
Sights and sounds of 13 pantomimes feature in this year’s display and they’ve really gone to town to make it a family experience. Visitors can admire a 60ft beanstalk as they climb a spiral staircase and spot the mice hiding in the book shelves around Puss-in-Boots.
But what really brings all the wonderful displays to life is the amount of interaction. There’s a chance to dress up as your favourite character, have your photo taken with Captain Hook and spot members of staff in the wallpaper around the Red Riding Hood wolf’s bed.
In my Sunday afternoon visit, I saw a man in his 50s ask if he could have his photo taken in the witch’s cage and a little girl ask her grandma why Shrek looked so strange (it was Peter Pan).
Chatsworth’s architectural grandeur and beautiful grounds make it a great place to visit any day of the year. Add to that around 21,000 baubles and 4,000 fair lights feature and it’s no surprise it’s a winning formula.
It really feels like this year they’ve gone to town with the decorations and had a lot of fun in the process. It’s not often that you get to stand in a stately home and hear Widow Twankey talking about how thongs are uncomfortable. This is not my first Chatsworth Christmas. Ever since I moved to South Yorkshire, friends have gushed that it’s a must-see. In the past, I’ve been cynical. There was one particular year where I felt they’d done little more than tie red bows around a few statues.
Brace yourself for the ticket price as it’s far from cheap at £15 for adults for house and garden (and £3 to park) but then you don’t get displays and decorations like this on a low budget. It’ll be a wonderful day to remember. And you’ll probably find that awkward someone you never know what to buy a good Christmas present in the gift shop.
• Decorations at Chatsworth can be visited until December 23. Christmas markets will take place today until Sunday. Visit www.chatsworth.org for more information.