Tag Archives: Christmas

Enjoy a Victorian Christmas with Visit Isle of Wight

Visitors to the Isle of Wight can immerse themselves in a Victorian Christmas this winter with a variety of festive events and traditional entertainment from times gone by.

The Victorian era has seen a resurgence thanks to the recently released film Victoria & Abdul and ITV’s drama Victoria, so why not see how Christmas was celebrated by Queen Victoria and the Royal family in the Queen’s favourite home by the sea at Osborne? On selected dates in December, Christmas at Osborne offers festive guided tours to see the house ‘dressed’ for Christmas as it would have been during the Royal reign with Christmas trees, rooms decorated throughout and grand dining tables set for a festive feast.

For the first time ever, Osborne is opening its grounds after dark with a stunning fairytale of light, colour and sound. Enchanted Osborne takes place from 15-23 December. Follow an illuminated, festive garden trail swathed in strings of lanterns and fairy lights and emerge into a scene of a traditional fairground with a myriad of old-fashioned entertainment.

In addition, The Spectacular Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival, which takes place 7-10 December, sees local churches, pubs and community halls in and around Brighstone and Mottistone, come together to showcase over 200 ‘theme decorated’ trees.

The totally unique and free event includes Santa’s Snowy Grotto, musical entertainment with concerts and carol singing, craft fairs, lace-making demonstrations, handbell ringing and an outdoor nativity pageant performed with local cast and musicians. The tree displays then continue in three locations from 11 December to 2 January, without the additional activities, at The Parish Church, the Isle of Wight Pearl and the Methodist Chapel.

David Thornton, CEO of Visit Isle of Wight, said: “The Isle of Wight is a magical place to be during the festive season with its thatched pubs, spectacular coastal winter walks and quintessentially English villages. But the Island’s connections with Queen Victoria and its popularity amongst figures of note during the Victorian era – Edward Lear, Alfred Tennyson and Charles Dickens to name a few – means that visitors can step into England’s past. If you want to experience authentic or traditional Christmas celebrations, the Isle of Wight is the place to be.”

For additional seasonal fun this December, kids will love Santa’s Specials at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway with its Winter Wonderland, Christmas market, live music, entertainment and magic shows, all rounded off with a visit to see Father Christmas and a trip aboard a majestic steam train.

For those coming to the Isle of Wight to discover a Victorian Christmas, there is a huge choice of accommodation across the Island. Stay in cosy thatched cottages, seaside apartments, boutique B&Bs, luxury hotels, pooch-friendly pads or large, self-catering properties for big groups.

A two-night stay on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis at The Hambrough, Ventnor costs from £210 per person based on two people sharing an executive sea view room. Valid from 26 November to 21 December 2017, Tuesday to Saturday, the price includes return car ferry crossing from Southampton with Red Funnel.

For more information and other Christmas offers, visit www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/victorianchristmas


 For further information, please contact:

Sue Emmerson, Press Officer, Visit Isle of Wight, tel. 01983 521555, ext 29/07766 705672, sue@visitwight.co.uk

 Notes to Editors

About Visit Isle of Wight:

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight. As well as the consumer website www.visitisleofwight.co.uk the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities www.visitwight.org

Get social media updates from Visit Isle of Wight. Go to: https://www.facebook.com/VisitIOW, https://twitter.com/VisitIOW, https://instagram.com/visitisleofwight/, https://www.youtube.com/user/VisitIsleofWight, https://plus.google.com/114584030216192729120/posts

English Heritage reveals details of Queen Victoria’s final Christmases at Osborne House

She has long been known as one of the nation’s sternest monarchs – and perhaps not the first choice of a Christmas host – but this year English Heritage staff at her seaside retreat on the Isle of Wight will be showcasing a more surprising side to the royal’s Christmas celebrations, with grand dinners, family festivities and party games, including an early forerunner to the mannequin challenge.

Though the festive season was subdued in the years following Albert’s death, her later years at Osborne saw the traditions of Christmas and its festivities begin to reappear, particularly with the appearance of more and more grandchildren. Gifts would be exchanged between staff and family (on Christmas Eve, a tradition still believe to be observed by today’s Royal family) before the day itself was marked by an elaborate Christmas dinner.

Recently translated for the first time, the menu from Victoria’s final Christmas, 25 December 1900, shows items that might be recognised by modern diners, including turkey with chipolata sausages and plum pudding, but also a few things that might not make it onto the 21st Century dining table. These include a fish course, and also a starter of Turtle Consommé, or soup – a famous (but expensive!) Victorian delicacy. [see Appendix for full menu].

All Christmas gatherings need games too, and Queen Victoria’s festive celebrations were no exception. That Mannequin challenge entertainment? It was known as the ‘Tableau Vivant’, and Queen Victoria and her guests would gather in the Durbar Room at Osborne and watch, often for several hours, as family members donned costumes and posed against a backdrop to portray a scene from history or a famous painting.

The curtain would fall, participants would change position, before it rose again, with the tableau repeated several times if the Queen desired it, before different costumes and scenes were selected. Live music could even be performed from the gallery above to accompany the poses.

Like most family celebrations, some guests enjoyed the festivities more than others. The journal of a Lt Gen Calthorpe, a regular dining guest at Osborne, was recently acquired by English Heritage. Attending a festive-season dinner in January 1890, he can be found bemoaning one such experience of the ‘tableaux,’ that lasted until 22:30, complaining “along time we had to wait! About 25 minutes!” between changes of scenery and costumes.

By contrast, the Queen’s own journals from this same occasion record her enjoyment of the spectacle, stating “The Tableaux were really lovely & so well arranged.” and that “The music was excellent, & every one was delighted.” There’s always one who inflicts games on everyone else!

Michael Hunter, Collections Curator for English Heritage at Osborne, said “The common misconception of Queen Victoria as a dour monarch has prevailed for many years, but recently people have begun to challenge that. Our research shows that here at Osborne, particularly in her later years, she enjoyed Christmas festivities with her family filled with feasting and games.”

“Although it is doubtful she participated, she particularly enjoyed the Tableau Vivant, and who’s to say she wouldn’t have looked fondly upon the modern day mannequin challenge?!”

English Heritage offer Festive Guided Tours of Osborne every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until 22 December, telling stories of Queen Victoria’s Christmas and touring rooms decorated as they would have been during the royal reign.

– Ends –

For further press information and images, please contact:

Phil Harper, National PR Manager, phil.harper@english-heritage.org.uk or 0207 973 3354

English Heritage cares for over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites – from world famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to Cold War bunkers. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million visitors each year. www.english-heritage.org.uk Registered charity no. 1140351


Tuesday 25th December 1900

Her Majesty’s Dinner


Turtle Consommé

American Cream of Barley Soup


Turbot with Mousseline (or Hollandaise) Sauce

Breaded Fillets of Sole with Sauce Ravigote


Herbed Christmas Crêpes


Relevés (Separate Main Course)

Turkey Poult à la Chipolata

Chine of Pork

Roast Beef

Plum Pudding


Entremets (Dishes Served after main course)

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Mince Pies

Chocolate Éclairs

“Have Yourself a Merry Island Christmas”

Sail away to a winter wonderland on the Isle of Wight with Wightlink Isle of Wight Ferries and relish in traditional Christmas festivities. Ho-ho-hopping on board Wightlink Ferries’ fast and convenient car and foot passenger ferry crossings,  travellers don’t have to go too far to enjoy Christmas celebrated just as it should be, and in style, at one of the country’s most loved holiday hotspots.

From visiting Santa’s grotto, to wondering through Christmas markets or enjoying winter wonderlands, there are many traditional festive activities on the Island that ensure all visitors have a very merry time.  Wightlink’s top Christmas picks for 2015 include:

Santa Claus will be residing at Needles Landmark Attraction’s Christmas Grotto on most weekends during December. Along with meeting Santa, visitors can enjoy free entry to children’s rides, Jurassic golf, sweet making demonstrations and even a visit to the elves in their workshop as they get gifts ready in time for Christmas.

Tapnell Farm’s Christmas Open Studioshave an exciting selection of creative and imaginative, locally made Christmas gifts in stock. From unusual stocking fillers, to statement art and special jewellery, a visit to the studios is the perfect option for those in search of special presents for loved ones. The studios are open from 5th – 6th December.

The Brighstone Christmas Tree Festivalis an exhibition of over 160 Christmas trees in seven different locations around the pretty village of Brighstone. Festival revellers also have the opportunity to stock up on locally made presents, listen to the carol service, watch the tree lighting ceremony and sustain appetities with a winter BBQ. The festival takes place from 10th – 13th December.

Step back in time with a Victorian Christmas at Osborne House. Visitors can participate in traditional games, take a ride on the carousel, roast chestnuts and watch jovial entertainers. Father Christmas and Queen Victoria may be spotted roaming the house, as visitors tour the festively dressed rooms. Tickets from £14.50 per adult and £8.80 per child (5-15 years old).

This year, the I love Wight Christmas marketwill be taking place at The Garlic Farm. There will be a Santa’s grotto, face painting, Christmas specials in the restaurant and festive music guaranteed to get people in the Christmas spirit. The market will be taking place on 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th December.

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s Havenstreet station will be transforming into a Winter Wonderland this Christmas. There will be live festive music, enetertainment and even Alpacas to meet whilst Rudolph takes a rest. After enjoying all the Christmas celebrations, visitors can hop on board the steam train. Tickets from £14 per adult, £10 per child and £8 per infant.

Wightlink’s convenient ferry services take passengers from Portsmouth and Lymington over to the Isle of Wight in just 40-45 minutes.. Alternatively, foot passengers catching the train into Portsmouth only have to walk a few steps to the ferry terminal, where they board the 22 minute Catamaran service that takes them into Ryde pier and back, the perfect route for bringing all your stocking fillers home.

For more information on the Christmas events taking place on the Isle of Wight, visit:



For more information about Wightlink Ferries, please contact:

Nadia Fidler                0207 680 7122           nadia.fidler@flagshipconsulting.co.uk

Sophy Norris               01392 248 934            sophy.norris@flagshipconsulting.co.uk

Belinda Hallworth       020 7680 7114           belinda.hallworth@flagshipconsulting.co.uk 

Wightlink – Part of Island Life

Wightlink is the leading cross-Solent ferry operator carrying almost five million holidaymakers and Islanders across the Solent to the Isle of Wight every year. Nine ferries on three routes provide Island-wide coverage and complete 48,000 sailings a year giving Islanders an easy and frequent service to the mainland, and tourists an accessible way to enjoy a taste of Island life.

You can step off the train from London, hop on a Wightlink catamaran and be on the Island in just 22 minutes, the car ferries take around 40 minutes from Portsmouth and Lymington. On board, passengers and drivers alike can relax in the lounges and enjoy some refreshments before arriving on the Island to enjoy the range of attractions, events and experiences that make the Isle of Wight a leading destination for tourists.

The opening of the Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey has cut journey times to Portsmouth from Greater London. By contrast, Wightlink’s port at Lymington is reached by an attractive drive through the scenic New Forest.



Day Return: Car + 7 passengers from £43.75* Short Breaks (2-4 nights): Car + 7 passengers from £54.25**

*Terms & Conditions apply, subject to availability, valid for sailings 08:00 – 09:59 and 16:00 – 17:59. Price based on outward journey crossing 06/05/15 and returning 06/05/15.

** Terms & Conditions apply, subject to availability, valid for sailings 08:00 – 09:59 and 16:00 – 17:59. Price based on outward journey crossing 06/05/15 returning between 08/05/15 and 10/05/15.


Day Return: Car + 7 passengers from £43.75* Short Breaks (2-4 nights): Car + 7 passengers from £54.25**

*Terms & Conditions apply, subject to availability, valid for sailings 08:00 – 09:59 and 16:00 – 17:59. Price based on outward journey crossing 06/05/15 and returning 06/05/15.

** Terms & Conditions apply, subject to availability, valid for sailings 08:00 – 09:59 and 16:00 – 17:59. Price based on outward journey crossing 06/05/15 returning between 08/05/15 and 10/05/15. 

Book Early, Be Flexible, Save Money

More information can be found at www.wightlink.co.uk



Families looking for something that little bit different to do in the build-up to Christmas should catch the next sleigh for “Ventnorville”, on the Isle of Wight.

With its warm microclimate, botanical garden and timeless promenade, Ventnor is a great place to visit at any time of the year – but it’s going to be especially magical this Christmas.

Because on Saturday, December 13th, the seaside town will turn into “Ventnorville” and will be celebrating all things Dr Seuss as ‘The Grinch That Stole Christmas’ comes to town.

Promising to be a day bursting with activities and entertainment, it will all begin when The Grinch arrives on his sleigh and travels around Ventnorville spreading his own, special brand of Christmas cheer!

Visitors will be able to meet The Grinch who, despite his grumpy anti-holiday spirit, will be getting into the seasonal spirit at a range of festive events taking place in the town throughout the day, including a spectacular Santa dash along the beach, a costume competition and parade, a sparkly lantern parade and a community Carol service at the town’s park.

There will be more opportunities to continue the festive fun on the Island at the spectacular Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival, from December 10th to 20th. With around 120 decorated trees in six different locations – including churches and pubs in and around Brighstone – further details can be found at http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/events/the-spectacular-18th-brighstone-christmas-tree-festival-p1105511.

It’s also possible to experience a “Wight Royal Christmas at Osborne” – with an expert guide who will explain how Queen Victoria and her family celebrated Christmas on the Island during regular tours on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, until Wednesday, December 31st (December 6th, 7th and 24th excepted).

Queen Victoria herself will be making an appearance at ‘A Victorian Christmas at Osborne’ on December 6th and 7th, when there will also be traditional games and carousel rides, and tours the festively-dressed rooms as you are transported back to Christmas time in the Royal residence. For more details, visit http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/events/a-victorian-christmas-at-osborne-house-p1099111.

The annual Red Funnel Cowes Christmas Food Show held at Cowes Yacht Haven on December 13th and 14th, meanwhile, highlights the very best in local Isle of Wight produce from organically-grown tomatoes and oak smoked garlic, to freshly baked artisan bread and delicious dairy ice cream. This is the chance to enjoy food demonstrations by talented local chefs at the interactive Cookery Theatre, plus Island arts and crafts, and traditional Christmas entertainment including a vintage Santa’s Grottos and Carol singing. See more details at http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/events/red-funnel-cowes-christmas-festival-p1099591.

And finally, for a very special festive night out, step on board a steam train and experience a relaxing ride through the winter countryside, with Christmas supper in Havenstreet railway station, accompanied by seasonal music and carols. The Christmas Carvery Night at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway takes place on December 20th, and booking is essential. http://www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk/.

For more information on where to stay and what’s on in the run up to the festive season, go to www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.


For further information, please contact: Sue Emmerson, Isle of Wight Press Officer, Tel: 07766 705672, E-mail: sue@visitwight.co.uk

Notes to editors:

The Grinch is the central character from the children’s story by Theodor “Dr Seuss”, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’. The grouchy green monster lives in the town of Whoville, a fun place to live with lots of colourful characters living in a Christmas storyland setting. The grumpy, anti-holiday Grinch hates happiness, hates merriment, and most of all, hates Christmas.

The Grinch conspires to deprive the Who’s of their favourite holiday by sneaking into town on Christmas Eve to steal everything associated with the holiday. But in a turn of events, the Grinch’s heart grows as he realizes that his nefarious no-good doings didn’t ruin Christmas; the citizens of Whoville are still celebrating and still coming together in a show of goodwill. In that moment, the Grinch changes his mind (and his heart) when it comes to Christmas.


10.15am Costume competition at St. Catherine’s Church, Ventnor (open to children and their dogs. Entry forms available from Love Ventnor’s Facebook page, Oh So Vintage or email ventnorba@hotmail.co.uk
10.30am The Grinch arrives on his sleigh in Ventnorville and travels around the town.
10.30am-4pm Arts & Craft Market at the Winter Gardens
10.45am: Costume competition judged by The Grinch.
11am Costume Parade through Ventnorville.
11am-3pm Santa’s Grotto
11.30am Costume award ceremony – presented by the Mayor on the sea front or Winter Gardens – depending on the weather.
Midday ‘Santa Dash’ on Ventnor beach
2.30-3.30pm The Bunker Girls at Oh So Vintage
4.30p Lantern Parade from the Youth Centre around the town to Ventnor Park.
5.00pm Carol Service at Ventnor Park


Festive food market at the Baptist Church; photo booth with The Grinch at Church Street Motorcycles; Bands playing around the town including the Vectis Corps of Drums’ Hunger hot spots; Face painting; Hot chestnuts at Five A Day.

Ventnorville is being organised by Ventnor Business Association and Visit Isle of Wight accepts no liability for any inaccuracy in any of the information in the programme listed above. http://www.loveventnor.co.uk/vba-information/

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight. As well as the consumer website (VisitIsleofWight.co.uk) the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities: www.visitwight.org



 A Christmas Tree Festival in a 14th century village, Christmas carnivals winding their way through seaside towns, Christmas markets in historic settings and the opportunity to pick up unusual seasonal gifts, this year why not treat your loved ones to a cracker of a Christmas on the Isle of Wight?

Lots of Island towns and villages will be celebrating the festive season with delightful decorations, lights and markets.    The annual Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival (5 to 8 December) will create a magical atmosphere for visitors who can view the beautiful exhibits of over a hundred themed and decorated trees and take part in a brilliant range of festive events in and around the historic hamlets of Brighstone and Mottistone.   Take time to visit Brighstone’s National Trust shop and museum housed in a row of attractive thatched cottages – especially on Sunday the 8th when NT staff will be serving complimentary mulled wine and mince pies.


Or step into a Christmas wonderland at Osborne’s showpiece Victorian Christmas event also held over the weekend of the 7th and 8th of December.  There’ll be Victorian carols to sing along with, a magical merry-go-round, traditional sideshow games, hot roasted chestnuts and of course Queen Victoria will be there, all under a frosting of perfect white ‘snow’. 

A Victorian strong man show will wow the crowds and there’ll be special 30 minute performances of A Christmas Carol. For the first time, there’ll be Victorian festive falconry displays on the Durbar lawn and on Sunday, author Jeremy Archer will be reading from his book ‘A Royal Christmas’. After taking the kids to visit Father Christmas, you can pick up some charming and unique gifts that you won’t find on the high street and enjoy the house dressed in its Christmas finery,


Another seasonal option is Ryde’s Dickensian Christmas event (7/8 December) with strolling performers, singers, actors,  a street circus and a Christmas Grotto in the Royal Victoria Arcade Museum and Heritage Centre.   At 11am on Saturday 7th, Queen Victoria and her entourage will be getting in the Christmas spirit with a tour of this Victorian & Regency Town.

Warm up afterwards with a delicious mug of hot chocolate at the Chocolate Apothecary, a former Victorian chemist’s on Ryde seafront  (http://www.chocolateapothecary.co.uk/).

Not only is the shop – which has been dubbed “A chocoholic’s heaven” by TripAdvisor  – filled with delicious hand-made chocolates, but the owner, Sue, also supplies Briddlesford Lodge Farm shop, Brading Roman Villa, Made On the Isle of Wight, IW Steam Railway and makes special garlic flavoured chocolate for the Garlic Farm and lavender flavoured truffles and fondants for Isle of Wight Lavender. If you want something individual for someone special, the Chocolate Apothecary can make you chocolate delicacies to order

More food heaven can be found at Cowes Christmas Festival on 14th and Sunday 15th December, which features a food theatre with demos from top local chefs and talks from IW producers.  There will also be stalls selling Island food and drink, arts & crafts, plus children’s face painting, live music and Santa’s Grotto.    Father Christmas will also be returning by horse and carriage to the Needles Park and to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’ Santa Specials where visitors will be able to meet Santa’s Alpcas and enjoy a bustling Christmas market.




The annual Ventnor Boxing Day swim (Thursday 26th December) when 100 brave swimmers/dippers including children is a sight to behold.  The dip is at midday prompt – fancy dress is optional – with seafront pubs providing food and hot toddies to swimmers and onlookers alike. 

For four days between 27th & 30th December you can also enjoy the majesty of Robin Hill in mid-winter.  To celebrate the launch of Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie on 20th December, the park will be re-opening its popular “Jurassic” trail (http://www.robin-hill.com/).  Or take part in one of Dinosaur Isle’s popular guided fossil walks which are running throughout December: http://www.dinosaurisle.com/newhomepage.aspx

In Newport, perfect Christmas gifts and craftwork can be purchased at the Quay Arts Craft Shop. Every year their Christmas selection flies off the shelves with a choice of over 60 artist’s works for sale ranging from wooden sculptures, silver handcrafted jewellery to fun-packed handmade educational children’s items (www.quayarts.org).

David Thornton, CEO Visit Isle of Wight said:  “There’s nowhere quite like the Isle of Wight for some good old-fashioned, Christmas cheer.

“Local communities come together to create a truly unique experience and this can be enjoyed by everyone who chooses to spend this special time of the year on the Island.”   

For those visitors who would like to attend midnight mass, there are plenty of village churches offering Christmas Eve services.   As an alternative, the monks of Quarr Abbey will be providing midnight mass to local people and visitors alike at the Island’s Benedictine monastery on 24 December, as well as a mass at 10am on Christmas Day.   Visit www.quarrabbey.co.uk for further details.  

With regular ferry services from Southampton, Portsmouth, Lymington and Southsea and an abundance of special Christmas accommodation packages, the Isle of Wight presents the ideal opportunity for a wonderful Christmas break for the whole family.   

For a full schedule of festival events, visit http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/events/christmas


For further information, please contact:

Sue Emmerson, Isle of Wight Press Officer

Tel: 07766 705672      E-mail: sue@visitwight.co.uk

Notes to editors:

Ryde’s Dickensian Christmas event (7/8 December):

The highlight of the festivities is a Royal visit on Saturday the 7th at 11.30am giving shoppers, visitors, well- wishers and shop workers a chance to show off their

Christmas spirit whilst the Royal party takes a tour of our Victorian & Regency Town

For more information, please contact Ryde Business Assn: carol_rba@ymail.com