12 Days of Christmas at Stowe

Wow, what a Christmas we enjoyed in 2019! Visit our 'What's on' to see Christmas events planned the future. Read on to see how the 12 days project came about and how the community and artist support developed the event. 

Christmas preparations at New Inn, Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Wow, what a Christmas we enjoyed in 2019! Visit our 'What's on' to see Christmas events planned the future. Read on to see how the 12 days project came about and how the community and artist support developed the event. 

Visitors were able to pick up a map from the visitor welcome centre at Stowe and head out on a winter wonderland walk through the frost-kissed garden. There were 12 displays in the garden to discover, celebrating the Georgian tradition of the Twelfth Night with a final flourish at the Temple of Concord and Victory. 2019: Drop in daily from 1 December – 5 January 10am-4pm, normal admissions apply (closed 24 and 25 Dec).

Twelfth Night

A tradition held by our Georgian ancestors, Twelfth Night celebrated the last day of the festive season on 5 January when there were great feasts. Popular customs included singing carols, chalking the door, having your house blessed, merrymaking, as well as attending church services.

The main event for this holiday was to have a cake in the centre of a table. Baked inside the cake were a dried bean and pea, one in one half and the other in the second half. As visitors arrived at the feast they were given a slice of cake, ladies from the left and gentleman from the right. Whoever found the bean became King of the Revels for the night and the Queen was whoever found the pea, gaining power to instruct all to their heart’s content.

What did visitors see?

Visitors could explore 11 locations across the garden with displays of wreaths, kissing boughs and foliage designs reflecting different aspects of Christmas traditions that still resonate today such as carol singing, family get togethers, games, gifts and even panto! Supported by artist duo Mossy Crow, we asked local community partners to think of festive traditions close to their hearts to inspire their individual creations. 

Crisp winter walks in the garden at Stowe by the Temple of Concord and Victory
A family walking along the Temple of Concord and Victory in winter.
Crisp winter walks in the garden at Stowe by the Temple of Concord and Victory

The twelfth and finale of all the displays was at The Temple of Concord and Victory where the huge interior was filled by a decorated feasting table. Created with foliage from the gardens at Stowe and other found objects, this elaborate display featured lights, drama and the Twelfth Night king and queen.

Get outdoors this festive season for a walk through the garden at Stowe to see imaginative displays

12 days of Christmas walk

Embrace the season and enjoy a world of frost-kissed gardens as you uncover 12 displays in the landscape. Grab a map from the welcome area and head out on a wintery quest.

Family fun

Along the way visitors needed to find ingredient clues for a Twelfth Night cake to note down a map. This completed the challenge and they could take home a recipe card.

Adding some photographic memories, we suggested visitors 'Strike a pose' by standing in the costume of the king and queen with their head emerging through the collar and share their cheeky Christmas snaps with us on social media using #StoweChristmas. 

Mossy Crow 

The design concept has been conjured from the idea of celebrating the role of garden in Christmas, bringing the outdoors inside for the final flourish. From holly to pine cones, Georgian workers would have gathered berries and feathers to take back into Stowe House and the New Inn to decorate the interiors, making use of the natural resource available. 

Local artists Mossy Crow were asked to come on board to the project, using their skills and creative flair to bring the displays to life using foliage. They love to build in games and interactivity to their artworks, connecting people and families back into nature through play.

A child placing their wish on the Christmas tree with bright baubles and twinkly lights

Miranda La Mutanta

Supporting community groups - Miranda is an artist and community arts facilitator with experience in teaching and practising a wide range of traditional and digital art forms.

A view across a frosty lawn, a lake and behind sits a semi-circular temple with busts of famous people at Stowe

Trix Robertson

Co-founder of the Zelda School, Trix teaches art and crafts whilst taking on commissioned art projects and has been an installation designer for the Greenpeace Field at Glastonbury Festival for the last three years.

A middle ages woman with shoulder length brown hair and an old lady inn silhouette look amazed by their surroundings

What's on 

Throughout the year you can visit Stowe to enjoy seasonal highlights, join in with the kids activities and discover our programme of events. In 2020 we're exploring how water plays an integral part of the landscape at Stowe, encouraging you to relax, refresh and reconnect with nature. Check out the full listings here.

The Temple of Ancient Virtue at Stowe, dressed for Christmas

Christmas at Stowe

Wow what a great Christmas we enjoyed in 2019. Please come back to this article in autumn 2020 to see what we have planned for next Christmas. Enjoy a relaxed season of homemade and traditional events. With a new 12 days of Christmas map with big displays in the landscape, crisp winter walks, Christmas meals, carols and a festive shopping season to choose from, there's an opportunity to escape the twenty-first century world.