Looking for a new way to experience some of Europe’s oldest castles, palaces, and châteaux? Consider some of these on-site autumn events.
The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace is running two special exhibitions this fall. Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer displays 20 works form the Royal Collection including Vermeer’s The Music Lesson, while High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson shows satirical British wit as it was in Georgian times (both Nov. 13−Feb. 14). National Champagne Week (Nov. 1−7) gets the royal treatment at Blenheim Palace, which is partnering with Laurent-Perrier Champagne House for a special cuvée rosé daily afternoon tea in the Indian Room. Meanwhile in Kent, Leeds Castle is back with its annual Fireworks Spectacular (Nov. 7−8), one of the biggest displays in the U.K. This year, it’s movie-themed, timed to a mash-up of famous score songs and scenes projected onto the castle’s facade. And as the holiday season begins, lace up some skates at the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink (Nov. 20−Jan. 4) for a couple of twirls and a drink at its Ice Bar.
October is the last month to catch the hashtag-art event of the year, the Anish Kapoor Versailles (through Nov. 1) sculpture installation spanning the palace’s grounds. Less controversial is the fall lineup at the magnificent Royal Opera theater in the château’s north wing, including Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Oct. 7−8), back-to-back Monteverdi performances of Vespro della Beata Vergine (Nov. 6−7) and L’Orfeo (Nov. 8−9), and Lully’s masterpiece Armide (Nov. 20−22). Meanwhile, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte—about an hour southeast of Paris—will be transforming itself into the Chocolate Palace (Nov. 6−8) for the eighth year running. Drawing more than 12,000 visitors, the affair sees the castle filled with creations by renowned chocolatiers, ranging from truffles to statues inspired by the 17th-century baroque setting.
Famed as one of the world’s most haunted places, the childhood home of the late Queen Mother goes all out for the Halloween at Glamis Castle (Oct. 31) festival. The main event begins after dark: a ghost hunt in search of the specter of Lady Glamis, who was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1537. Late October also sees Balmoral Castle, 70 kilometers to the north, reopen to the public following the British royal family’s summer residence there. From then until early December, visitors can join weekly Luxury Landrover Safari Tours through the historic estate’s 20,000 hectares of parkland.
This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Noble Pursuits”)