Festive fun in Shakespeare Country!

Enjoy a whole host of festive activities in Shakespeare Country with traditional carols, candlelit tours, story-telling, craft fairs, Christmas pudding and wreath-making workshops, ghost tours and a Royal Shakespeare Company performance of Wendy & Peter Pan. With so much on offer, Shakespeare Country offers all the magical ingredients for a short break this festive season.

The Shakespeare Birthplace lightshow starts from 21 November - 19 December four times nightly and is the first 3D lightshow to combine a laser lightshow with live theatrical performances outside the Birthplace. Resident acting troupe Shakespeare Aloud! will perform some of the most dramatic scenes from Shakespeare’s best loved plays. Revellers can also enjoy a tour of the Birthplace by night with special candle lights to walk around the house with. The Birthplace will also be extending its opening hours and will be offering mince pies and mulled wine in the café.

Enjoy a magical performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company which presents Wendy & Peter Pan from 10 December – 2 March 2014. Ella Hickson gives a new perspective on a much loved JM Barrie children’s classic. With Guy Henry, known as Holby City surgeon Henrik Hanssen, returning to the RSC to play Captain Hook, he is joined by Fiona Button as Wendy and Sam Swann as Peter Pan. Or watch a performance of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies which runs from 11 December – 29 March and is a much-anticipated double bill of Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker prize-winning novels. See inspiring art around the building including The Half, a V&A exhibition of photographs by Simon Annand which captures actors preparing for the stage. Visitors can also discover magical fairies and sprites caught in jam jars around the theatre. Sprite Symphony is a new arts installation opening on 21 November.

Visit The MAD (Mechanical Art & Design) Museum this Christmas which, due to its success, has moved into much larger new premises in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. Showcasing some of the world’s finest pieces of Kinetic Art and Automata from pioneering artists all around the world, The MAD Museum was keen to provide a bigger platform for this popular type of art. Along with old favourites and crowd pleasers, the Museum will also be displaying a new range of never-seen-before exhibits. The new venue will be completely transformed, with a fabulous brand new MAD look!

Wander around two intriguing exhibitions at Compton Verney. A Fantastical Animal Alphabet runs from 5 October – 15 December. This exhibition accompanies Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from the British Museum and draws inspiration from Enid Marx’s (Marco) Animal Alphabet creating a Fantastical Animal Alphabet of new original prints. Marco’s Animal Alphabet was first printed in 1979 and published as a book in 2000. Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from the British Museum also runs from 5 October – 15 December and explores our curiosity about the animal world through the beautiful and bizarre imagery found in prints of the 15th to the early 19th centuries in the British Museum’s collection.

Head over to Tudor World for tales of a Tudor Christmas, including a trail, prizes and stories of Christmas traditions and their origins. The ghosts of Christmas past will make their appearance every evening at 6pm and on Christmas Eve will include mulled wine and minced pies! On New Year’s Eve enjoy a glass of buck’s fizz to start off the party atmosphere. Admission £5.50 for adults, £2.50 children (7 & under are free with an adult), £4.50 concession and £12.50 for families up to 3 children. The quiz, prizes and shows are all included in the entry price. The ghost tours are £7.50 for the lantern lit tours from 6pm.

See Santa in his magical Grotto at Hatton World near Warwick and receive a golden key to unlock his workshop where each child can choose their own present. Meet his reindeer and nativity animals who will star in their traditional nativity story. Plus, there are Fun Fair Rides and Children’s Shows – not forgetting the Reindeer Hunt with a prize for the children. Santa’s Spectacular Grotto & Adventure Farm Festive Fun takes place on 23 & 24 November, 30 November & 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 - 24 December.

Make a Christmas pudding in the Victorian kitchen at St John’s Museum in Warwick on 24 November from 2pm - 4pm. Find out what they used to cook and look at recipes from the archives. Cost is £8 (includes refreshments). On 5 December from 7pm - 8.15pm, listen to Richard Churchley, musician and local historian, perform local folk songs. Richard will sing about tales of love and war to legends and dances, featuring both familiar and lesser known songs. Cost is £5 (includes refreshments). Go shopping for unique handcrafted gifts for friends and family at the Contemporary Craft Fair on 8 December.

Celebrate Christmas with the family at Hill Close Gardens in Warwick on Sunday 1 December at 2.30pm with The Spirit of Christmas, a celebration of the Christmas festival with a summerhouse nativity trail, Father Christmas, stalls, games and Christmas carols.

Visit Coughton Court from 23 November – 1 December for festive shopping in the Coach House shop. See the house dressed for a traditional family Christmas and enjoy lunch in the restaurant. At weekends visit the Green Father Christmas in his sitting room (£2 per child). The Christmas Market will be selling gifts, food and drink from 23 – 24 November and 29 November – 1 December. Enjoy an evening recital of traditional Edwardian entertainment presented by Dr. Donald Hunt on 30 November at 7:30pm in Coughton's magnificent Saloon. Tickets cost £14 including refreshments. The renowned traditional Coughton Christmas Wassail returns on the 7 & 8 December with festive stories and carols, a roaring fire, mulled wine and delicious mince pies!

Packwood House will host its traditional Christmas Market on 7 and 8 December. The house will be decorated using materials found in the garden and parkland and festive market stalls will be positioned in the Barnyard, selling local food, wine and gifts. The house will be open up to and over the Christmas Fair weekend and then from 9 December, guided tours will be available, bringing to life ‘A Packwood Christmas’. Music from local bands and singers will take place plus traditional Christmas activities for families to enjoy.

Celebrate a Victorian Christmas at Baddesley Clinton which will be decorated, complete with cosy log fire. Enjoy Christmas lunch in the Barn Restaurant and buy cards and gifts in the shop. Take part in a festive evening tour of the house and Christmas supper in the restaurant on 2, 3, 5, 16, 17 and 19 December. Tickets cost £20.

Christmas begins at Kenilworth Castle with a chance to see birds of prey soar above the castle ruins in a weekend of Festive Falconry from 30 November - 1 December. Visitors can witness awe-inspiring displays and discover how the birds were trained to catch prey for the Royal table. The whole family will feel like children again at the Christmas Weekend from 14 – 15 December as the castle is transformed into a festive wonderland. Enjoy wintry tales from the castle’s story-teller, a feast of yuletide tunes, and seasonal activities plus the chance to meet Santa in the gatehouse grotto….Children will love the special Festive Family Fun Trail from 7 - 8 December with a seasonal prize for all who solve the Christmas mystery, and grown-ups can scare themselves in an after-hours festive themed Christmas Ghost Tour on 13 December. There will even be a chance to get the creative juices flowing in a wreath making workshop. With expert guidance on hand it’s a great way to learn some crafting techniques and take something special home with you.

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