Christmas at the Royal Residences

Christmas tree in St George's Hall Windsor Castle
Christmas tree in St George's Hall Windsor Castle

Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

This festive season, Christmas decorations will transform the State Apartments at Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and a special display at Windsor Castle will bring together costumes worn by The Queen and Princess Margaret during wartime pantomimes. Exclusive tours will give visitors a behind-the-ropes experience at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, whilst family activities will bring royal Christmases to life for children and adults alike.


Christmas Windsor Castle pantomime costumesRoyal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

From 25 November 2021 – 31 January 2022, visitors to Windsor Castle will have the unique opportunity to see six rare surviving costumes worn by The Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – and Princess Margaret during their wartime Christmas pantomimes. These pantomimes were put on between 1941 and 1944 to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund, which supplied knitting wool to make comforters for soldiers fighting at the Front. Brought together for the first time, the costumes will be displayed in the Waterloo Chamber where the pantomimes were originally performed 80 years ago.

Pantomime pictures Windsor CastleRoyal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

Also on display in the Waterloo Chamber are 16 large-scale and colourful pictures of fairy tale characters that were pasted around the walls to decorate the space for the pantomimes. The pantomime pictures have been revealed to the public 75 years after they were covered up at the end of the war, when paintings by Sir Thomas Lawrence that had been removed for safekeeping were returned.

The State Apartments will be decorated from 25 November with shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and festive garlands. A highlight will be the 20-foot high Christmas tree in St George’s Hall taken from Windsor Great Park and dressed with hundreds of iridescent glass and mirrored ornaments. The Semi-State Rooms, created as opulent private apartments for George IV and now used by members of the royal family for official entertaining, are now open to visitors for the winter months and will feature a spectacular Christmas tree in the Crimson Drawing Room.

Christmas Windsor Castle Semi State RoomsRoyal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

The State Apartments will also host a series of drop-in festive storytelling sessions for families. And, taking inspiration from the pantomime costumes on display, weekend arts and crafts activities in the Castle’s Learning Centre will give children the chance to design their own costumes, decorations, and stage.

From 30 December – 9 January, a series of Great Kitchen Tours will give visitors a guided tour of the oldest working kitchen in the country – not usually open to the public. Built during the reign of Edward III, the Great Kitchen has remained in use for over 750 years and is still used today for State occasions hosted by The Queen.

Available throughout December, Exclusive Evening Tours will offer a behind-the-ropes experience in the State Apartments. Led by an expert guide, visitors will discover more about the Castle’s 1,000-year history, enjoy a glass of champagne and receive a complimentary copy of the official souvenir guidebook.


From 3 December visitors to the Palace of Holyroodhouse can enjoy festive decorations that will include a shimmering 15-foot tall Christmas tree in the Great Gallery, whilst the Great Stair leading to the historic State Apartments will be draped with twinkling velvet garlands, glittering berries and seasonal foliage.

Christmas Palace of Holyroodhouse dining roomRoyal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021

In the Royal Dining Room the table will be laid with pieces from a silver services presented to King George V and Queen Mary in 1935 to mark their Silver Jubilee, and decorated with flowers, wreaths and spires of faux candied sugared fruits.

The Mary, Queen of Scots at Christmas Family Activity Day on 18 December will give children the opportunity to discover how Christmas was celebrated at the Palace over 400 years ago. Families can step back in time to learn a curious game called ‘The Feast of the Bean’, create a pomander to make the air smell sweet, listen to traditional fiddle music and pick up a family activity trail.

Exclusive Evening Tours will run from 18 – 30 December, offering a private view of the State Apartments after hours, including the West Drawing Room which is used by members of the Royal Family as a private sitting room and is not usually open to the public. Tours include a complimentary glass of champagne, a mince pie and a copy of the Palace’s souvenir guidebook.


With their gilded ceilings and glittering chandeliers, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace provide a magnificent setting for many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection. Buckingham Palace Guided Tours, available from 5 November 2021 – 30 January 2022, give visitors the opportunity to explore rooms used by the Royal Family for official entertaining, including the Ballroom, Throne Room, White Drawing Room and Music Room, when the Palace is not usually open to the public.

For the first time, Family Guided Tours of Buckingham Palace will be available this winter. Specially designed for children, these fun-filled tours highlight stories about the Palace and its history that little ones will love and make a memorable day out for all the family.


Browse for Christmas gift inspiration in the Royal Collection Trust shops or online at, where luxurious hampers, food hall favourites, traditional Christmas decorations and sustainable stocking fillers make perfect presents. For book lovers, A Royal Christmas is the first official publication to explore the festive traditions of generations of the royal family, through more than 150 objects, photographs and documents from the Royal Collection and Royal Archives.

For more information on Christmas at the Royal Residences and to book any of the tours, visit