The many faces behind our Candlelight Tours...

Posted: December 04th 2019

by Sophie Coles, Marketing Administrator

Creators of Christmas

Each year Holkham’s rooms are transformed into wonderful scenes from your dizziest daydreams.

Each room has a unique theme, with festive smells, atmospheric lights and surprising sounds.

Each decoration has been carefully placed, and not a single surface is left untouched.

The amount of thought and effort that goes on behind the scenes each year is astounding. Here we interview those who create the enchanting worlds you see behind each door at Holkham.

Catherine Zoll, Christmas Coordinator

Even though we have just opened up our doors for Christmas 2019, we are already beginning to reflect and look at next Christmas, and how we can reuse and rework our decorations alongside new ones. We have an abundance of baubles, wreaths and ornaments that we have collected since our first Candlelight Tours in 2011.

Every January, Lady Leicester and I go to Christmasworld in Frankfurt, and Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, to seek out the latest trends in all things festive, and be inspired by the new and fresh takes on seasonal decoration. It’s the best way to see what new concepts are being dreamt up. We often visualise which themes and decorations could work best at Frankfurt, and such ideas are developed throughout the year.

We like to play around with concepts, and the most important part of the development stage is connecting each theme to Holkham. We want each room to have its own identity, and not feel copied from something else.

Lady Leicester often has a vision for each room, and we look for passionate creatives who can help bring her visions to life. We can spend up to a whole year finding the right artists for our ideas, and our volunteers work alongside the artists to make Christmas at Holkham so special. Volunteers are crucial to Christmas here, as are our Hall Team, and local groups such as the Fakenham Flower Group work with some of our Walled Garden to create the beautiful flower displays. We really couldn’t do any of this without everyone’s hard work.

The morning after Halloween, they are tasked with taking down all the Halloween decorations and then bringing in the boxes and crates of decorations from our shipping container and basement. Each box is allocated to its new room for the year, where it meets new decorations.

Laurentino Azevedo, Floral Designer

There are 46 Christmas Trees in the hall this year, and by far the most spectacular is the Saloon Tree. With 4000 lights, and the efforts of 15 volunteers to decorate, our tree was brought to life under the watchful and creative direction of Floral Designer Laurentino Azevedo.

Laurentino changed careers from working with some of the world’s leading fashion houses to floristry in 2013. His work has exhibited at the Saatchi gallery in London. He has always been fascinated by plants and flowers, and believes that in floristry they are given a new language and a new lease of life. Floristry is making beauty with death.

In advance of his visit, Lady Leicester sends Laurentino photos of the decorations she envisions for the tree, but it is not until Laurentino feels the textures and sees the decorations in person that he begins to put everything together. It is necessary for him to be spontaneous on the day, as he aims to create a perfect harmony between the room and the sculpture itself.

Henrietta Faire, Paper Sculpturist

Henrietta makes bespoke wedding dresses and unique couture outfits for special occasions. This year one of our showstopper rooms is without a doubt the paper room, where everything is made from A4 and A5 pieces of paper. The room is commanded by the Nordic goddess Freya, who has papery wings and a crisply delicate dress.

Henrietta has been making Freya and her surroundings since October, experimenting with different folds and cuts of paper to make a truly distinctive effect. For this project she had to delve into Nordic mythology to understand the characteristics of the goddess, and find a way to incorporate them into her intricate design.

From eyelashes to a stunning headdress, the detail put into Freya’s attire is never-ending. Her train is an icy ocean with ships battling the choppy seas and her arms are adorned with papery feathers of all shapes and sizes, to represent her ability to transform into a falcon.

It took two journeys to bring the final piece together at Holkham, and we are unsure how she managed to make the journey without one paper tear.

Emma Thorburn, Gingerbread Maker

Emma started out in 2012, and is proudly self-taught. She prepares every cake from scratch using the best ingredients, mostly with a Norfolk provenance. Emma normally makes wedding cakes, but every year she makes large-scale installations for our Christmas extravaganza. In past years she has
made a giant Big Ben and a beach hut.

You may recognise her from Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas a couple of years ago, where she won the competition with a gingerbread lighthouse. She has worked hard over the past decade to perfect the tastes, smell and design of her creations.

If you would like the chance to meet our wonderful Christmas team and ask them about anything Christmas, come along to our special VIP Candlelight event this Saturday, where you can meet them before strolling around the stunningly decorated Hall. Book your tickets here.

Laurentino’s tips for a stunning Christmas Tree…

• Start off with the lights to give the tree structure, and place them deep inside

• Don’t put baubles on the end of a branch, put them far in to create depth! It makes the lights extra magical as they can reflect on the baubles within the tree.

There’s no such thing as too much decoration. You must ensure that there are no gaps on your tree.

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