10 English Heritage Sites to visit this Twixmas

Make sense of the hazy blur between Christmas and New Year with memorable days out the whole family will love.

After Christmas Day, when the novelty of family board games and festive films have worn off, we’re often looking for ways to entertain the whole family. We've got over 30 sites open for you to get out and explore England’s history.

We’ve picked out just a few of these spots for you to get planning days out that are brimming with family fun and lots of history.

Eltham Palace and Gardens, London

Less than an hour from central London by both car and public transport

There's so much to see and do at Eltham. Stroll across London’s oldest working bridge and take the kids to the adventure playground, all before you’ve even set foot inside the palace…

Once inside, explore the extravagant lifestyle of eccentric millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld who transformed the once royal Tudor residence, and medieval stronghold, into a 1930s art deco dream. Try on costumes and follow the family trail to get a sense of just how much history has happened in this glamorous house.

Dedicate a whole day to exploring Eltham, spending lunch in Eltham's cafe and tea rooms or enjoy our delightful picnic area. 

Eltham Palace's gardens are closed over this period to accommodate our Enchanted events, book your ticket now. 

Visit Eltham Palace

Kenwood, London

Less than an hour from central London by both car and public transport

Crowning Hampstead Heath, Kenwood is one of London's hidden gems. Roam the beautiful parkland and take in the majesty of this neo-Classical villa. Inside the house, you’ll find a stunning world-class art collection featuring masters like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner and Constable.

Kenwood has its own cafe and facilties so you can enjoy an extraordinary day out with the family. 

During the festive period, until the 1st of January, the grounds of Kenwood will be illuminated with a sensational light trail, transporting visitors into an enchanting world of light and colour. Book your ticket now. 

Visit Kenwood

Dover Castle, Kent

A short walk, drive or bus ride from Dover

Set atop the famous white cliffs, Dover Castle was built soon after 1066 and remains one of the best kept fortresses in England. At its heart lies a history of royal intrigue, epic sieges and to the biggest evacuation in military history, evacuating hundreds of thousands of Allied troops from Dunkirk.

Inside the castle walls you can discover 80 acres of grounds, battlements, an immersive exhibition in the Secret Wartime Tunnels and a recreated medieval palace – including royal bedchambers and Kings’ Hall complete with throne - before climbing the roof for amazing panoramic views.

Dover Castle has toilets, disabled access and a dedicated picnic space. The property is a short walk from the town centre so you can finish your day with a delicious meal by the coast. 

Dover Castle

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland

Under an hour from Newcastle by car and public transport

Prepare to be enchanted by Belsay's Grecian architecture, medieval castle, and thirty acres of outstanding gardens. Roam through the unique micro-climate of the Quarry Garden with exotic plants around every twist and turn and enjoy the quirky open spaces around the Hall and the castle.

Belsay Hall is undergoing some crucial conservation work and exciting new developments. Due to the work taking place, the Tea Room is currently closed but you can grab a hot drink and small bite to eat at our Stable Courtyard refreshment trailer.

Visit Belsay Hall

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Under an hour from Wiltshire by car

Perhaps one of our most famous sites and for good reason, this must-see monument is a powerful testament to human ingenuity, imagination and creativity.

Experience the unforgettable atmosphere of the Stone Circle and follow in the footsteps of the prehistoric people who lived here 4,000 years ago as you walk among the Neolithic houses. Dig deeper in the world-class exhibition and take time to explore the monuments and mysteries of the wider Stonehenge landscape.

Everyone can enjoy Stonehenge, we've got a dedicated visitor centre which is perfect to warm up after viewing the magnificient stones. Why not treat yourself to a meal in the restaraunt too. 

Visit Stonehenge

Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

Just over an hour from Essex by car

Audley End boasts spacious grounds and one of England’s grandest mansions. Whether you’re exploring the servant’s wing, state rooms, stables, kitchen garden or beautiful grounds, you’ll discover what life was like above and below stairs at a Victorian country house.

There’s plenty for families to do, with a playground, working stables and acres of Capability Brown parkland to enjoy.

After exploring Audley, treat yourself in the cafe or use our dedicated picnic area while the kids are exploring the playground. 

Visit Audley End

Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

Under an hour from Derby by car

Bolsover Castle was the fantasy hilltop pleasure palace of the horse-mad Cavalier playboy – William Cavendish.

Be transported to the Stuart age of extravagance as you discover richly decorated rooms with rare wall paintings, carved fireplaces and tapestries. Explore the riding school and the wonderfully recreated garden and roam the ruined Terrace Range and take in the stunning countryside views from the restored wall walk.

Families will love the interactive exhibition in the stables, and kids can let their imaginations run wild in the castle-themed play area which is located next to the café so the adults can refuel before exploring more of this grand castle. 

Visit Bolsover Castle

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, Warwickshire

Under an hour from Birmingham by car

Discover stories of epic sieges and royal scandals at the mighty Kenilworth Castle, with views fit for a queen.

Once one of the country’s most formidable medieval fortresses, the castle was later transformed into a spectacular Elizabethan palace by Robert Dudley in an effort to impress his queen. Uncover their royal romance and take in the extravagance of Queen Elizabeth’s private rooms before exploring the aviary, marble fountain and beautiful grounds.

With all that history you'll likely have worked up an appetite, take a seat in the cafe before exploring some more. 

Visit Kenilworth Castle

Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire

Under an hour from York by car

Escape to this tranquil valley of the North York Moors and discover the impressive ruins of one of England's most powerful Cistercian monasteries as we shine a light on Rievaulx Abbey's fascinating past. Discover lives of the monks who called Rievaulx Abbey their home. Explore the museum, displaying previously unseen artefacts telling story of the rise and dramatic fall of the first Cistercian abbey in the North of England.

Wander the extensive ruins of the abbey to discover more about the building and how it looked at various stages of its development. Take in the stunning views from our visitor centre while enjoying a tasty treat in our tearoom and appreciate why St Aelred's 'everywhere peace, everywhere serenity' description of Rievaulx Abbey could quite easily have been written today.

Why not park in the nearby chocolate-box town of Helmsley and take a scenic walk from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey or refresh back inside the visitor centre with a cafe and gift shop. 

Visit Rievaulx Abbey

Beeston Castle and Woodland Park, Cheshire

Just over an hour from the centre of Manchester by car

Crowning a rocky crag high above the Cheshire Plain and boasting spectacular views, Beeston is one of the most dramatically sited medieval castles in England.

On a clear day, you can see all the way from the Pennines to the Welsh mountains. With a 4,000 year history, a replica Bronze Age roundhouse and a 40-acre woodland park.

Completing those steep inclines deserves a treat. As you head back down, you can decide whether you fancy a light lunch or a coffee and cake in the cafe. 

Visit Beeston Castle

Sites open between Christmas and new year

Find all our sites open between Christmas and New Year and plan a day out near you. 

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