The curtain rises today on the latest – and possibly the most theatrical – Christmas display that Castle Howard has ever seen with the opening of A Christmas Masquerade.

Running until January 5, every public room in the historic house will be dressed in ornate and elaborate feathers, sequins, baubles and twinkling lights as visitors join the Howard family as they prepare for a Venetian-themed Christmas Carnival, complete with masquerade ball and entertainment from Harlequin, Pierrot, Colombine and Punchinello – part of the Commedia dell’arte troupe.

“Castle Howard is a house that was built with a sense of theatre and extravagance inspired by Venetian design – Vanbrugh was both an architect and a playwright - and at a time of year when glittering opulence makes its way into almost every home, we couldn’t think of a better opportunity to explore a tradition enjoyed by generations of the Howard family, the masquerade ball,” said producer, Charlotte Lloyd Webber, who alongside theatrical designer Bretta Gerecke, has led the team of set dressers, florists, artists and seamstresses to create the immersive masquerade experience.

Each weekend during the seven-week Christmas opening, those visiting will be joined by members of the Commedia dell’arte troupe for live entertainment around the house, whilst soundscapes and music arranged by Hon. Nicholas Howard provides an additional sensory appeal to the proceedings.

Head of marketing, Abbigail Ollive, said: "Christmas at Castle Howard is an experience never to be forgotten, with many people returning year after year to get their festive ‘fix’, whether to take inspiration back for their own home designs, or simply just to marvel at how an already beautiful property can be transformed into this magical place – a veritable festive film set that you can walk through and admire."

“Each year’s designs are totally different, and the jewel-like sapphire blues, ruby reds and golden amber bring a whole new colour palette to this year’s displays.”