A BAFTA award-winning costume and set designer is reimagining the story of The Nutcracker as part of a new festive feature at Blenheim Palace 19 Nov– 3 Jan.
Alnwick-based Clare Elliott and her assistant Mandy Bryson together with a small team of designers is transforming the interior of the 18th century Baroque Oxfordshire Palace with a spectacular re-imagining of the classic Christmas tale of toys that come to life.
Clare, who is Senior Designer at Culture Creative, has spent the last 12 months in her workshop creating the magical world before transporting, and then painstakingly installing, it in the State Rooms of the UNESCO World Heritage Site ahead of its official unveiling on 19th November.
“For us, it’s felt like Christmas since April as the workshop has been filled with giant nutcracker soldiers, gingerbread men, sugar plum fairies, candy canes, Christmas trees, oversized presents and angels,” she said.
“I have always loved the original 19th Century short story by Hoffmann, which was the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s hugely popular ballet, and so to have the opportunity to bring my own version to life was very exciting.
“The fact my ‘stage’ is the magnificent and historic interior of what’s often described as Britain’s greatest Palace makes it all the more special,” she added.
This will not be the first time Clare has had the daunting task of installing her creations among the priceless art and artefacts of the Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and the ancestral home of the Duke of Marlborough.
“This will be my third Christmas display at Blenheim Palace, having previously designed both Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella-themed interiors there,” she said.
“Although I am now quite familiar with the surroundings, it’s still a daunting experience and we will be working around the clock to ensure everything is installed and ready to welcome its first visitors on time,” she added.
Running until 3nd January, the story of The Nutcracker is just part of a series of festive-themed experiences taking place at Blenheim Palace this winter.
Visitors can also explore the illuminated trail, highlighting England’s finest view with over a million lights, lasers, a host of amazing new features and seasonal sounds.
The family-friendly one-mile trail will be awash with colour, full of seasonal surprises and shimmering reflections that cast light on beautiful silhouettes of majestic trees.
There’s also the chance to soak up the yuletide atmosphere at the Christmas Market which runs from 19 November to 19 December and features traditional wooden chalets filled with a range of festive treats from designer-makers and artisan food and drink producers.
Tickets are selling fast, book now to avoid disappointment www.christmasatblenheim.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace is produced by leading events promoter Raymond Gubbay Limited, a division of Sony Music, in partnership with Blenheim Palace. The story of The Nutcracker and the illuminated trail are created by Culture Creative Limited.