Head elf Gemma Kennedy in Santa's Grotto, at Dumfries House
Head elf Gemma Kennedy in Santa's Grotto, at Dumfries House

Christmas events to take place at Dumfries House

A series of enchanting festive events is set to take place at Dumfries House following the arrival of Santa Claus at the estate on Sunday.

St Nicholas arrived by sleigh and was greeted by children who had the opportunity to receive a gift and have their photo taken with him, at the stately home in Ayrshire. Older guests enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies, while the monthly food market was in full swing with festive delicacies on offer.

The house itself, which was saved for the nation by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2007, has transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland. Those on tours of the house and guests of a variety of events throughout December will be treated to a large helping of festive cheer, with the principal floor dressed for the season.

Candlelit Evening Tours, with an aperitif on arrival and coffee and mince pies on conclusion of the tour, are priced £19.95 and run throughout the evenings of December 11, 12, and 13. Dining options, which include the candlelit tour, are available as part of the Festive

Feast and Festive Banquet events serving exquisite seasonal fare, house wine, and musical accompaniment by a local harpist.
Woodlands, the restaurant located a five-minute walk from the house, will offer a special festive menu from December 6-16. A comprehensive Christmas offering includes roast turkey with all the trimmings and sticky figgy pudding with egg nog ice cream.

Santa’s Grotto, which is located next to the Coach House Cafe at Dumfries House, will be open on selected weekend dates throughout December. Tickets, which include a gift and souvenir photo, cost £6 per child and can be purchased online via the Dumfries House website.

Young visitors to Santa’s Grotto will be welcomed by head elf Gemma Kennedy, 20, from Auchinleck, who moonlights as an assistant at the estate’s Coach House Café.

Head elf Gemma Kennedy in Santa’s Grotto, at Dumfries House

She said: ‘At the weekend, Santa arrived on a sleigh with a tractor pulling it and the children loved it. We had hot food and a choir, and everyone had a great time.

‘There are so many things going on at Dumfries House over Christmas. There’s a change of atmosphere that gets you excited for the holidays coming.’

The Woodlands festive menu (subject to change) is –

Starters: Chef’s Soup Of The Day With A Warm Roll (V) £6.25; Smoked Salmon Mousse, Gin Pickled Cucumber, Wholemeal And Quinoa Biscuits £7.25; Ballochmyle Brie, Prosciutto Ham, Sourdough, Sun Blushed Tomato £6.95; Chicken Liver Parfait, Walled Garden Fruit Chutney, Brioche Toast £6.95; Smoked Haddock And Leek Risotto £6.95.

Main courses: Pan Fried Fillet Of Beef, Slow Braised Ox Cheek, Parsnip Puree, Garlic Mash Potato £28.95; Mixed Seafood Bouillabaisse With Saffron Potatoes £17.95; Roast Pork Belly, Haricot Bean Cassoulet, Wilted Spinach £16.95; Roast Turkey With All The Trimmings £18.95; Nut Roast, Sautéed Potatoes, Creamed Sprouts, Vegetable Gravy (V) £14.95.

Desserts: Christmas Pudding, Cognac Anglaise £5.95; Sticky Figgy Pudding, Egg Nog Ice Cream £6; Chocolate Fondant, Pistachio Ice Cream £6.50; Mulled Wine Poached Pear, Prune And Armagnac Ice Cream £5.95; Trio Of Scottish Cheeses, Oatcakes, Chutney £7.95.

Reservations for the above events and experiences can be made by calling 01290 425 959.

From modest beginnings, Dumfries House is now the second-largest employer in East Ayrshire with more than 250 full-time and part-time staff across the house, estate and education and training programmes.