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Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 16:34 UK
Christmas 2009 at Windsor Castle
Queen Victoria's sleigh
Queen Victoria's sleigh first went on display in 2008

Windsor Castle is getting into the festive spirit in December with an array of Christmas events.

Queen Victoria's winter sleigh will be on display, and families visiting the Castle on 19 and 20 December can follow a special Christmas activity trail.

Just for the Christmas period, the table in Windsor's State Dining Room will be set for a festive Victorian dessert course.

The Christmas displays can be seen from 3 December to 6 January 2010.

Queen Victoria's winter sleigh will be on show in St George's Hall with the traditional Christmas tree from Windsor Great Park.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent many Christmases at the castle, and the Queen often enjoyed sleigh rides around Windsor during the winter months.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
The Queen and prince are closely associated with Christmas traditions

The royal sleigh, built by the carriage-makers Hooper & Co., is painted red and gold, and lined with red velvet.

An extract from Queen Victoria's journal of 12 February 1855 records a winter outing in the sleigh with Princess Clementine of Orleans.

She wrote: "Another sharp frost and a fine day - Albert drove Clem and me out in the sledge… with the exception of two or three little places, we went beautifully and as smoothly as though we were on ice.

"The sun bright and the sky so blue. We were out for an hour."

Prince Albert is credited with popularising decorated fir trees, dressed with coloured wax candles and artificial snow.

Gifts, toys and sweets were heaped around the trees or hung on the branches, to be presented on Christmas Eve when the candles were lit.

The royal children made homemade cards to give to members of the household, and the family would go skating or play festive games introduced by Prince Albert, who was from Germany.

Families visiting the castle on 19 and 20 December can follow a special Christmas activity trail through the State Apartments and discover what it was like to plan and host a Christmas ball.

In the Moat Education Room, children can have a go at designing their own amazing costume or making a Christmas tree decoration to take home.

Click here for visitor information.




SEE ALSO
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31 May 07 |  On This Day
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29 May 09 |  Gloucestershire
Windsor Castle hosts royal shows
16 May 09 |  Berkshire

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