If you’ve been reading the blog over the four and half years it’s been running you will have come to know that there are a few places that are really close to our hearts. We’ve been having family fun at Blenheim Palace since my son was three months old, meeting my NCT group in the grounds every Monday for a catch up and picnic. We’d walk the grounds with the babies in their prams or sling and sit under ‘our’ tree and eat our lunch whilst the babies slept.
As the babies turned into toddlers we watched them take their early tentatives steps there. I watched my son as he tried to toddle off through the daffodils to catch up with his buddies. We moved from our special tree to the Pleasure Gardens and to sunny days spent in the sandpit and exploring the climbing frames. The maze beckoned and we’d have a different view for our picnic lunch as the kids tucked in.
The Butterfly House and Bygones Museum has always been a big draw for my son, he’ll be 8 in December and he loves visiting these areas as much now, as he did as a tiny tot. Of course I mustn’t forget the train, I’ve lost count of the number of journeys we’ve taken on the train whilst having family fun at Blenheim Palace over the years. Again, he loves it as much now as he did the first time we went on it.
A tradition began within our NCT group as our numbers swelled and the children grew, a meet up for the annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Palace. As the children have grown up it’s not always been so easy to keep them all together all the time, but we’ve enjoyed supporting the Reds or the Blues at the various Jousting events and the kids have played in familiar places.
I’ve made so many memories with my son whilst having family fun at Blenheim Palace, these days we often visit, just the two of us, and we walk around the wider grounds. We chat and retell stories of previous visits, we admire the views and enjoy the wonderful setting of the Palace and grounds.
In all the years we’ve been going to Blenheim Palace we’ve never made it to their Festival of Transport, but we put that right this year and popped over on the second day of the event on Bank Holiday Monday. It’s a free event that’s included with your entrance ticket, and as we all like cars we thought it might be fun.
Who would have believed that the sun actually came out to play to, on a Bank Holiday weekend! Amazing.
We explored the Electric Vehicle Zone and wondered how long it will be before petrol and diesel cars will be a thing of the past.
There were a variety of cars from across the years, some taking us back to days when life was taken at a slower pace.
To cars made for speed.
We admired the old Mini’s.
and wondered around in the sunshine.
Not only was there a range of cars displayed but on the Bank Holiday Monday there were a range of motorbikes to admire too.
Family fun at Blenheim Palace also meant enjoying the trucks that were on show at the Festival of Transport.
There were stalls selling food and beverages within the showground but we’d decided that we wanted to walk around the grounds so headed towards the Palace itself.
If you visit Blenheim Palace and buy a Palace, Park and Gardens ticket, you can choose to donate your admission to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation Charity on arrival, and in so doing you can upgrade your ticket to an annual pass. It’s well worth doing this and I think you’d struggle to cover everything Blenheim Palace has to offer in one visit. We’ve never managed it to see everything, and I still haven’t actually walked inside the Palace after all these years! Upgrading your tickets is easy, complete a firm in the main courtyard of the Palace, have your photo taken quickly and you’ll be given your annual pass.
Easy. If like us you are planning to visit Blenheim Palace a number of times during the year, it’s worth upgrading an annual pass to a Privilege pass for £5, which can be done at the same time. This then gives you 15% discount when eating, drinking and shopping (not mobile units) for the duration of your pass, just show it at the tills.
When we are having family fun at Blenheim Palace we often bring a picnic or have one of the homemade pizzas on offer in the Pleasure Gardens. I hadn’t been organised on the food front, and we’d reviewed a Pizzeria in Oxford the day before, so our trip called for something different this time around. The Water Terrace Cafe offers seating both insides and overlooking the Water Terrace itself. On a busy, sunny Bank Holiday we took whatever seat was available, but if you do get a chance, enjoy the views across the terrace, it’s a lovely lunchtime setting.
My ever fussy 7 year old opted for a Tuna Nicoise sandwich, and then proceeded to remove every piece of rocket with ninja speed, so getting a photo to share was impossible. But his father enjoyed Salmon and vegetables whilst I opted for the Pork Pie with a handpicked salad selection from the buffet. Both were delicious.
Family fun at Blenheim Palace has often, over the years, been a mother and son experience as Daddy P works so much. But as we had him with us for the day, we decided it was high time he walked around part of the grounds with us.
First stop as we walked through the Water Terrace, was to admire the rear facade of the Palace. It really is a stunning building from any angle, and somewhere I never tire of photographing.
No visit beyond the formal gardens is complete for us without a quick visit to ‘our tree’. Oh how my son has grown over the seven years we’ve been visiting that tree! So many memories made, and a special place that we share with five other families. Other people might admire the spot, but there’s a little piece of Blenheim Palace that will always belong to us and our NCT group.
We decided that our family fun at Blenheim Palace would include the Lake and Grand Cascade walk on this particular visit. There are a number of walks you can do around the estate, and this one is only 1 mile and a favourite of my son and I.
The roses were still in bloom so we took a few moments to enjoy their scents and watch the bees busily at work.
It wasn’t long before my stick boy had found a few news ones to add to his collection as he led the way towards the Great Cascades.
This way Daddy! It’s lovely watching my son when we’re at Blenheim Palace. It’s such a familiar setting for him, that he just feels able to run free and explore. He knows where the water is and to be careful, but he has fun and is so carefree. We thought we might have seen the heron who’s so often keeping guard over the cascades but he was nowhere to be seen on this visit. The swans were happy to pose instead.
The views across the Great Lake never fail to impress, and I’ve taken so many photographs over the years in all weathers.
There’s an iron bridge at the Cascades end of the lake. It’s sadly closed off but I always look at it and imagine some Edwardian lady standing on it admiring the water lilies, and wonder where it used to lead to.
As you walk along the banks of the lake the Palace itself comes back into view, a view up towards the Water Terrace and another angle of this beautiful building.
Ice creams were called for so we headed back to the courtyard for an ice cream cone (can thoroughly recommend the Blenheim Palace ice creams – yum!), admired the views and told Daddy P that we’d get him walking to the Column of Victory on our next trip having family fun at Blenheim Palace.
For more information about number of walks and future events then pop over to their website.
If you like horses then I can thoroughly recommend the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trails which take place next week. Ticket prices are separate to Blenheim Palace itself. I went on one of the dressage day a couple of years ago and loved every minute. Next year I’m really hoping to go for the weekend and see the cross-country and show jumping.
There are Halloween themed activities planned for the half term week, the spooky train ride is always good fun. We might just see you there.