Kensington Palace - Queen Victoria’s childhood home will be decking its halls with lanterns this year, celebrating a traditional Christmas with fun family activities – and kids go free!


26 November - 2 January

Kensington Palace will be celebrating a traditional British Christmas this year, with a return to its historical roots in the Victorian era. The childhood home of Queen Victoria will be decked with traditional decorations throughout the festive season, all inspired by tales of Victoria’s Christmases at the palace, taken from her diaries.  From brass bands playing famous carols of the age, to ‘Tasty Talks’ on Victorian Christmas dinner, the palace promises to be the perfect place to get into the festive spirit!

Many Christmas traditions we celebrate today were born during Queen Victoria’s reign.  Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, while both Christmas cards and Christmas crackers were invented and commercially produced in London in the period.  The Queen herself was responsible for an important tradition – she was the first monarch to grow up with a Christmas tree after they were introduced to this country by her Grandmother Queen Charlotte.  

From December, visitors will be welcomed to the palace by a three-storey Christmas tree laden with candle lanterns, with the theme of silhouettes and shadow play continuing inside the palace. Lightboxes with displays of festive outdoor scenes and foliage will adorn archways, windows and corridors. Spot silhouettes of ice skaters, dog walkers and the happy royal couple Victoria and Albert. Quotes from Queen Victoria’s diary entries will also be interwoven, creating the effect of stepping into a pop-out storybook. Each Saturday, families will have the chance to try their hand at lantern-making in a drop-in session, or have a go at creating a Victorian-inspired decoration to adorn the Christmas tree in the palace’s Family Room.

Family-friendly activities continue with object handling in the Victoria Revealed exhibition, where children can discover toys popular in the 19th century, or play with a doll’s house inspired by Victoria’s own, among the Queen’s childhood treasures on display. 

Between Christmas and New Year, festive music from The Prince Regent’s Band will fill the palace’s historic Queen’s Gallery every day, with visitors encouraged to stop and enjoy Victorian carols and Christmas tunes. The palace’s food historians will also be on hand for ‘Tasty Talks’ on selected dates throughout the month. These 20-minute talks explore the fascinating Victorian history of the food and traditions of the modern-day Christmas table, from the origins of Christmas puddings, to the reason why crackers crack! The talk ends with a celebratory drink of spiced mulled cider from the Wassail bowl, a traditional toasting vessel.

For those inspired to learn more about how the Victorians celebrated Christmas, the palace’s popular ticketed brunch-time lecture series continues, with The Rise of Christmas Shopping - a look at the development of the festive shopping period as we know it, from window display and advertising, to the gifts given and received by Queen Victoria – on 3 December. Rounding off the Victorian fun, Panto and Performance on 14 January promises to provide an insight into the vibrant world of Victorian performance, from cross-dressing actors to backstage shenanigans. 

For further information and images, please contact

Rachel Powell at 0203 166 6003/


Notes to editors



Gate Price

Online rate




Child (under 16)






Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, 10am-4pm (last admission 3pm)

Please note that the palace is closed on 24 December and will re-open from 27 December.


Special events


Victorian brunch-time lecture series


Saturday 5 November: The Victorian mania for stories, Saturday 3 December: The rise of Christmas shopping, Wednesday 14 December: Panto and Performance 

Ticket includes a glass of Bucks Fizz and entry to Kensington Palace. 

£15/£12 HRP members.


Tasty Talks

8, 11, 18 and 29 December 

Free with a palace ticket.


Drop-in object handling sessions 

Saturdays: 3, 10, 17 December, 11am-3pm

Free with a palace ticket.


Lantern making workshop

Saturdays: 3, 10, 17 December 

Drop-in sessions aimed at families. 

Free with a palace ticket.


Create your own Christmas decoration 

Saturdays: 3, 10, 17 December 

Free with a palace ticket.


Family workshop: Victorian puppet theatre

Saturday 17 December 

Stage your own Pantomime this Christmas and create a Victorian shadow puppet theatre – reliving the tradition where children would put on performances at family gatherings at Christmas time.

Free, no palace ticket required.


Music at the palace

Daily, 27 December to 2 January 

Free with a palace ticket.


Kensington Palace has been home to some of the country’s most charismatic and best-known royals, including George II, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. Originally built in 1605 as a private country house, it was purchased in 1689 by King William III and Queen Mary II, eager to escape from the damp and smoke of Whitehall. They immediately ordered major improvements to the Jacobean mansion to make it fit for royal residence. The palace includes contributions from some of the most renowned architects of the past three centuries, including Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor, Sir John Vanbrugh, John Nash, Colin Campbell and William Kent. 

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 in Northern Ireland.  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, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Registered charity number 1068852. 

For more information, visit  



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