See Bamburgh Castle transformed into festive spectacular for Saints & Angels Christmas trail

From 12ft Christmas trees to a table laid for a turkey dinner fit for a king, Bamburgh Castle has never looked so festive as it hosts its first large-scale Christmas event.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 5:46 pm

The historic landmark has unveiled its Saints & Angels trail which weaves its way through 12 rooms creating a winter wonderland of celestial scenes, fantastical floral displays and even a Christmas tree dress.

It’s a theatrical spectacle produced by world-class set designers Adrian Lillie and Charlotte Lloyd Webber, along with the creative team at CLW Event Design, for the castle’s first major festive installation which will see it extend its usual opening period over the holidays.

Drawing on its 3000-year-old history and rich past as a Royal citadel and seat of the Saint Kings of Northumbria, the displays take inspiration from Bamburgh’s rich and colourful past as well as its architecture and interiors.

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Saints & Angels at Bamburgh Castle

Castle owner Francis Watson-Armstrong said: “We met Charlotte in 2019 and were blown away by a Christmas installation the team had done at Castle Howard. It was a real lightbulb moment and we started negotiations to do a display here.

"It was actually planned for 2020, but couldn’t take place obviously. It’s just brilliant to see it here finally. This is a completely new thing for us and the first time we’ll be opening at Christmas time.

"There’s been plenty of blood spilled at this castle in the past, but we’re also a happy looking castle and it’s fantastic to see it looking like this.”

Adrian Lillie from CLW has decades of experience in costume design and says it was magical to be able to dress a building of this magnitude.

Saints & Angels Christmas event at Bamburgh Castle. From left costume designer Adrian Lillie and castle owner Francis Watson-Armstrong.

"Every installation is site specific, and we really thought about the history and heritage of the property when coming up with the designs. We did a lot of research, especially on the links with the Lindisfarne Gospels, which really captured our imagination.

"We really wanted to create a lot of emotion relating to Christmas, so some of the rooms are set as if a family had just left for a moment. We wanted to create inhabited Christmas scenes.”

He added: “1400 years of Northumbrian history sits in this building and it really is awe-inspiring.”

The centrepiece is in the King’s Hall and was produced by Canadian set and light designer Bretta Gerecke whose global accolades include Cirque de Soleil and the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s inspired by the hall’s Oriel window and depicts saints flying through the window and draping ribbons through the hall.

A Christmas tree dress in The Faire Chamber inspired by Lady Dorothy's gown

Other pieces include a Christmas dress in The Faire Chamber, made from faux and real foliage inspired by Lady Dorothy’s gown which stands on display in the castle. It’s accompanied by a Faberge-style Christmas tree festooned in feathers and doves.

Each display has a distinct character. In the Armoury the scene is set as though a monk had been scribing the Lindisfarne Gospels, but took a break for a festive tipple.

Meanwhile, the Billiard Room is set with the Armstrong family’s china and depicts a decadent Christmas table.

Saints & Angels is part of a programme of seasonal activities and events within The Christmas Kingdom at Bamburgh Castle.

There's 4 giant trees at the castle for Saints & Angels

It includes Reindeer Reign where visitors can meet Santa’s herd of Norse reindeer grazing in the castle’s West Ward and taking in views of the very sea their ancestors once travelled over with the Vikings back in the 8th century.

Saints & Angels at Bamburgh Castle runs from November 13 – January 3, daily from 10am – 5pm. Entrance is included with general admission tickets: Adults £14.10 / Children £6.95 / Children aged four and under free of charge. Additional charges apply for Father Christmas events and reindeer moss. Tickets can be pre booked at www.bamburghcastle.com or bought on the gate.

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The King's Hall has been festooned with saints and angels
Saints & Angels Christmas event at Bamburgh Castle.
Saints & Angels Christmas event at Bamburgh Castle. Costume designer Adrian Lillie.
Mantel pieces have been dressed throughout the castle
Saints & Angels Christmas event at Bamburgh Castle.
Saints & Angels Christmas event at Bamburgh Castle.
Saints & Angels Christmas event at Bamburgh Castle.
Saints & Angels Christmas event at Bamburgh Castle.