Heritage & Culture

Burghley bonanza!

It’s a bumper 2019 season for Elizabethan gem Burghley House. Come along and soak up the atmosphere during what promises to be a lively year...

Gearing up to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of its founder William Cecil in 2020, Burghley House is planning a bumper season for 2019 – including the world’s largest gathering of Rolls Royces and a summer concert by one of the UK’s top-selling R&B singer-songwriters.

One of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses, Burghley, near Stamford, will also again host its popular annual events, from picturesque outdoor cinema to fine food markets and new contemporary sculpture in a historic garden setting.

Plans are underway for 2020 to mark the anniversary of the birth of William Cecil – Elizabeth I’s most trusted minister who designed the house as a grand tribute to his Queen – which will include a high profile lecture series, new exhibitions and celebration events.

But in the meantime, and hot on the heels of last year’s record-breaking season when more than 120,000 visits were made to Burghley House and Gardens, there’s a host of fantastic events to look forward to.

Spring is sprung
The House and Gardens re-open on Saturday 16 March with this year’s year-long exhibition, ‘Treasures of the East’, bringing to life objects used and obtained by Burghley’s two great collecting Earls in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Spring also sees the annual opening of the normally closed South Gardens (16 March to 5 April), with magnificent seasonal displays of narcissi and other spring bulbs bringing an injection of colour into ‘Capability’ Brown’s sweeping vistas. Admission is included with a House and Gardens or Gardens only ticket, with an annual pass or by donation in aid of the Evergreen Care Trust. Head Gardener Joe Whitehead will be leading a tours of the gardens on the following Thursdays at 3pm: 21 and 28 March, and 4 April.

Then on 21 April the popular Burghley Easter Egg Treasure Hunt once again gets underway in the Gardens of Surprise (11am-5pm). Follow the treasure hunt and solve the riddle to claim your full-size chocolate egg from the Easter Bunny. Parents are also asked to test their Easter knowledge to try and win an afternoon tea in The Orangery Restaurant. All participants will be entered into the prize draw for a giant chocolate Easter Bunny!

Summer spectacles
Highlights planned for this summer start with a concert by Britain’s biggest black recording star, Billy Ocean (8 June), when the parkland will echo to the sounds of Caribbean Queen, while special guest Heather Small is bound to make the crowds feel Proud. Billy has sold over 30 million records and has proved to be one of the hardest working artists on the live stage, touring the world to ever-growing enthusiastic audiences. Don’t miss your chance to catch him at Burghley!

For the spectacular sight of the largest Rolls-Royce and Bentley gathering anywhere in the world, the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club Annual Rally (21-23 June) has stands, an auction of cars and automobilia, as well as class judging and a parade of prize winning cars.

Music and drama
For more spectacular summer celebrations, the Battle Proms Concert (20 July) brings music, Spitfire displays, cannons, cavalry and fireworks to the parkland. A firmly established favourite in the local calendar, the Battle Proms is attended by thousands of loyal fans every year and concert-goers are treated to an extraordinary afternoon and evening of unique entertainment at this party in the park with a difference.

The full two-hour orchestral concert from the 60-piece New English Concert Orchestra, led by Douglas Coombes MBE and compered by much-loved BBC presenter Pam Rhodes, will include a host of well-known classical pieces and conclude with a ‘last night of the proms’ flag-waving sing-along with favourites such as JerusalemLand of Hope and Glory and more under a sky of breath-taking fireworks. The Battle Proms are still believed to be the only opportunity in the world to see their signature piece – Beethoven’s Battle Symphony – performed as he composed it: accompanied by 193 live Napoleonic cannons!

Cinema takes centre stage for the now well-established Burghley Film Festival (24-28 July) with five days and nights of fabulous films alongside the new-style film festival food, including American classics served from our airstream trailer.

Foodies will be treated to three Burghley Fine Food Markets (6-7 April; 24-26 August; 28 November to 1 December) offering a range of produce with handmade cheeses, organic vegetables, luxury sweet treats and rare breed meats. Markets take place in The Courtyard from 10am to 4pm and there’s free admission and parking too. Check the website for a full list of exhibitors and their food, available in advance of each market.

Darker nights
As the nights draw in the autumn treats begin! These include Burghley at Twilight (2-5 October) when the House will be floodlit and visitors serenaded by musicians as they turn back time and become evening guests to explore a grand historic house at twilight. Enjoy a glass of Prosecco in the Old Kitchen, and walk through the State Rooms to the accompaniment of period music – from classical organ and violin pieces to Dante Ferrara, Elizabethan minstrel, beguiling you with his faithful copies of original instruments.

Then later in the month there’s the ever-popular Spooky Tours (16-31 October) when local ghostly expert Martin Tempest takes you on a scary (but fun!) tour of the Burghley that’ll send shivers down your spine.

For festive fun, the Burghley Christmas Fair with the Angel Fair (28 November to 1 December) will be the biggest ever, featuring a luxury gift fair and seasonal food market, all in a picture postcard setting with the magnificent Tudor house as a backdrop. Wander among the chalets, heated marquees and Fine Food Market and enjoy the perfect Christmas shopping opportunity in a very special and exceptionally festive atmosphere. Once again, Burghley will be working in association with The Angel Fair to raise money for charity.

This year is shaping up to be one of the busiest yet and it would be great to have you along as part of that. See you there!

Burghley House and Gardens

  • Burghley re-opens on Saturday 16 March and is open daily (House closed Fridays) until Sunday 3 November. Visit from 11am to 5pm (last admission at 4.30pm). The House and Gardens will be closed 5-8 September for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
  • House and Garden admission tickets available from £17 per adult and £9 per child. See the website for more information. The Parkland remains open daily from 8am to 6pm or dusk, if earlier, and is free to enter (apart from special event days).
  • For full details of opening times, all events and to book online tickets at discounted prices, visit www.burghley.co.uk or phone 01780 752451.

Main pic: ShutterBox Photography

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