What’s happening at Historic Royal Palaces, October - December 2019?

12 August 2019

12 August 2019

Settle in for a cosy winter at Historic Royal Palaces, with a series of exciting events and activities for all to enjoy across the palaces, including a jam-packed festive calendar from festive fayres to ice rinks!

This October, Hampton Court Palace will unveil a brand-new display, showcasing the only known surviving piece of dress from Queen Elizabeth I’s wardrobe, alongside the iconic Rainbow Portrait of the monarch. Over half-term at Kensington Palace visitors can rub shoulders with historic royalty as Queen Victoria and her daughter Princess Louise share insights from their time as palace residents in a host of family activities, while our brand-new evening event Bright Nights: Empire paves the way for intellectually-charged discussions on the legacy of Queen Victoria’s reign.

 As the nights draw in, the spine-tingling Ghost Tours at Hampton Court Palace and Twilight Tours at the Tower of London return, with the exciting addition this year of Fire & Light: Wild Raven Walk at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, which gives visitors the chance to explore the stunning 100-acre gardens during dusk to the accompaniment of a sound and light show.

 This Christmas heralds the opportunity to ice skate next to the iconic fortress at the Tower of London, or with the impressive Tudor backdrop of Hampton Court Palace. Meanwhile, Kensington Palace invites visitors to take part in Princess Victoria’s Christmas, helping the young monarch-to-be prepare her home for the festive season. Hillsborough Castle and Gardens is set to put on a beautiful display, with the Twelve Trees of Christmas, decorated to correspond with the famous Christmas classic, 12 Days of Christmas.




The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I

Opens 12 October

Hampton Court Palace

An elegantly embroidered altar cloth, which may once have been part of a dress worn by Queen Elizabeth I, will go on display for the first time at Hampton Court Palace this October. The ‘Bacton Altar Cloth’, discovered in a church in rural Herefordshire, is now considered to be one of the rarest survivals of Elizabethan dress in existence. After undergoing two years of extensive conservation work at Hampton Court Palace, this incredible legacy will be exhibited alongside the famous Rainbow Portrait of the ‘Virgin Queen’ featuring a dress of strikingly similar design.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Fire & Light: Wild Raven Walk

31 October – 3 November

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Explore Hillsborough Castle’s magnificent gardens like never before this Halloween with an immersive sound and light trail for all the family to enjoy.   Inspired by the story of ravens nesting in the Pinetum of the Gardens, Fire and Light: Wild Raven Walk will showcase the stunning 100-acre gardens in a whole new light.

Tickets: £7 general admission, £5 for Historic Royal Palaces members. Under 4’s free. Tickets include a hot drink at the end of the walk.


Bright Nights: Empire!

9 October, 29 October and 13 November

Kensington Palace

In the tradition of the great women who hosted salons and soirees in the 18th and 19th centuries, Bright Nights invites you to mingle, exchange ideas and revive Kensington’s tradition of courtly debate with a new generation of curious minds. Join today’s artists, scientists and provocateurs to question the legacy of the Victorian Empire. Enjoy a drink and examine the lasting attitudes that foster imperial thinking and what happens when cultures collide.

Tickets: £25. Includes entry to the King’s State Apartments and exhibition Victoria: Woman & Crown.


Twilight Tours

Selected Sundays November – April 2020

19:00 – 20:30      

Tower of London

Follow the Tower’s iconic Yeoman Warders as they lead an atmospheric tour after hours, taking in world famous sites including Traitors’ Gate, the infamous scaffold site and the Bloody Tower. Over its thousand-year history the Tower has been host to many significant events such as the alleged murder of the two boy princes, the execution of Tudor queens, the torture of traitors and countless stories of ghostly apparitions. Visitors will be appalled and amazed by the tales of prisoners and past residents and the secrets kept within these ancient walls, making this a truly unforgettable tour for those who are brave enough. We advise visitors to book in advance to avoid missing out on this popular event.

Tickets: £27.50 / £25 for Historic Royal Palaces members.

Tickets on sale from September.


Ghost Tours

Selected dates 31 October – 16 February 2020

Family Ghost Tours: 31 October, 3 November, 5 January

Hampton Court Palace

Darker nights see the return of the chilling Ghost Tours to Hampton Court, including a special family-friendly version. Discover stories of ghostly apparitions and paranormal activity, from the tale of the Tudor royal nurse whose spirit is said to stalk her former apartments, to the peculiar tale of the mysterious figure caught on CCTV in the palace in the dead of night. For true thrill-seekers, a Special Late Night Ghost Tour will take place on the night of Halloween; do you dare explore some of the palace’s most ghoulish locations during the witching hour?

Tickets: £27.50

Family tours: Adult £14, Child £7

Halloween Ghost Tour Late Night Special: £35 (18+).

All on sale from 9 September. Check website for dates and times.




Story Time

13 October, 10 November and 8 December - 11:45, 12:45, 13:45 and 14:45

Kensington Palace

Story Time is a monthly interactive storytelling session perfect for under 7’s and their families. Each month, you can explore a different story based on Queen Victoria’s childhood, in the palace that she grew up in. Each story gives an opportunity to get involved in the action, with songs, rhymes and more.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Come and Express Yourself!

Saturday 19 – Sunday 27 October, daily from 10.30 – 15.00

Kensington Palace

This half-term, take the opportunity to meet Queen Victoria and her daughter Princess Louise. Visitors can find out how these two women struggled to have their voices heard and have fun; with the chance to take part in lyrical word discussions with rap artists from Student of Life and create family selfies with Sharp Shot Photo Club.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Tower of London Ice Rink

16 November – 5 January 2020, excluding Christmas Day

Tower of London

Demonstrate your skating prowess in front of the fearsome backdrop of the Tower of London as our festive ice-rink returns to the infamous moat. This unique and unforgettable setting becomes even more magical at night, when lights on the fortress’ walls add to the ambience. The Ice Rink Café Bar will be open to everyone, offering much needed refreshment after an evening skating under the stars.


Standard: Adult £15.00 / Children (3-12) £10.50 /Family 4 £45.00 Booking fee £1.20

Peak: Adult £16.50 /Children (3-12) £11.00/Family 4 £47.00 Booking fee £1.20


Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink

22 November – 5 January 2020, excluding Christmas Day

Hampton Court Palace

One of the country’s most picturesque ice rink returns this year. Skate back into the past this winter, as you make memories for years to come in the surroundings of Henry VIII’s most famous residence. Whether you’re a seasoned skater, or a slightly wobbly beginner, make sure to visit the Ice Rink Café Bar for warming drinks and delicious food to round off your visit.


Standard: Adult £15.00 / Children (3-12) £10.50 /Family 4 £45.00 Booking fee £1.20

Peak: Adult £16.50 /Children (3-12) £11.00/Family 4 £47.00 Booking fee £1.20


Twelve Days of Christmas

30 November – 5 January 2020

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Enjoy the 12 days of Christmas at Hillsborough Castle & Gardens on a festive tour of the house led by a costumed Explainer. As you explore the gorgeous State Rooms, look out for 12 special trees, each decorated according to the traditional festive song The Twelve Days of Christmas, which was first published in 1780. Be sure to meet Father Christmas in the castle and let him know if you’ve been bad or good for your chance to wish for something under the Christmas tree!

On selected weekends, enjoy family and adult workshops to bolster your festive spirit.

Included in general Castle Tour admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.


Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre

6 – 8 December

Hampton Court Palace

The popular Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre (6 – 8 December) will return this year, with the building’s historic courtyards set to be filled with over 80 stalls featuring festive favourites such as mince pies, mulled wine and plenty of other treats to enjoy.

Included in palace admission. £5 twilight shopping tickets are also available Friday and Saturday 16:30 – 18:00 once the palace has closed.


Take part in Princess Victoria’s Christmas

Various dates between 7 December and 5 January 2020

Kensington Palace

This Christmas, help Princess Victoria and her family get the palace ready for the festive season by assisting her in staging a Christmas pantomime, creating seasonal crafts just like the ones she made when she was a child and discovering the history of the delicious festive food that Victoria would have enjoyed growing up at Kensington.

Included in palace admission. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members. Check website for dates and times.


Courtyard Carol Singing

16, 22, 23 December

18:00-19:00, 20:00-21:00

Hampton Court Palace

Fuelled by mince pies, prepare yourself to sing all your favourite carols in the historic and awe-inspiring location of Hampton Court Palace.

Tickets: Adult £10 / Child £5. Under 5s go for free.

Tickets on sale from October.

Notes to editors

All events and materials are included in the general admission ticket price for each palace and free for Historic Royal Palaces members unless otherwise stated. All events are subject to change, please check www.hrp.org.uk for up-to-date information on prices, opening times and details on event booking. For further information about events and listings please contact the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office on 020 3166 6166 or email [email protected]

All individual ticket prices include a voluntary donation. Buy online to save.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.  We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle and Gardens under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk