Given my obsession with music, this wasn’t the British Invasion I would normally think to write about. But face it, Downton Abbey has taken the world by storm, and those of you who love the show as much as I do will be elated about getting a chance to for a Downton fix in between seasons this year.
If you will be in the London area, consider hopping on a train from Paddington Station and taking the one hour trip to Newbury, home of Highclere Castle (the setting for Downton Abbey). Highclere Castle is the private home of the Countess and Earl of Carnarvon, relatives of one of the founders of Tutankhamen’s tomb, and therefore it also features an extensive Egyptian exhibit. As a private home, Highclere Castle is only open to the public during Easter school holidays and during the summer (when not used for filming). You have to be quick when tickets go on sale because they are snapped up immediately (and Easter holiday dates are sold out already for 2014). This year the summer holiday tickets will go on sale in February, so keep an eye on the Highclere Castle website over the next few weeks. (Update: As of February 3rd, tickets are now on sale!)
If you miss out on Highclere Castle tickets, you can still have some Downton fun with companies offering a wide range of tours, from all day tours featuring the Oxfordshire village of Brampton to private car hire from London that includes Highclere Castle admission. Of course the rates are widely different, as is the transport type and opulence factor.
Have no plans or funds to make it to England? Well, if you are on the Eastern seaboard, you are still in luck! Take a drive out to the Winterthur Museum outside Wilmington, Delaware to take in the Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit featuring 40 period costumes from the show. And what better setting than the Winterthur Museum, a country estate laid out in the American opulence? After working up a bit of an appetite wandering the formal gardens of Winterthur, consider heading over to the Hotel du Pont for a Downton-style high tea service, available daily at 3 p.m. The Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit will be on display from March 1, 2014 to January 4, 2015 ($20/person general admission, good for two days and includes garden tram tours).
Canadian fans will get a short window of opportunity to experience a Downton Abbey costume exhibit as well, at Toronto’s Spadina Museum. The exhibit, featuring 20 costumes, will run between March 11 to April 13, with timed tickets going on sale February 3, 2014 (general admission $25). To complete its Downton offerings, the Spadina Museum will also feature a Tea and Tour package with high tea.