Behind the Scenes – Winter Projects 2016

View of Harewood House in autumn

We’re often asked why Harewood House closes to the public during the winter months. There are in fact, a number of projects that we are unable to complete when the doors are open to the public. This winter is no different! The team are busy delivering a whole host of activities to ensure that the House, grounds and Bird Garden are maintained. Here’s a snippet of what’s going on behind the scenes.

In the House:

Cleaning the Libraries at Harewood House, Yorkshire

Cleaning the Libraries at Harewood House, Yorkshire

Protecting the fabric of Harewood House and the collections we manage takes a huge amount of work and planning. The simplest task like dusting the top of a bookshelf requires scaffolding! Cleaning the floors is another challenge. To remove a delicate carpets from the State Rooms can take up to 10 members of staff over an hour. Only then can our expert housekeepers polish the entire floor. These are all jobs that form part of the winter cleaning schedule which is a rolling programme of work completed during our closed season.

In the Gardens:

Visit the Terrace at Harewood in Yorkshire

A view of the Terrace at Harewood

Our gardeners are now hard at work preparing the borders for the harsh winter months. On the Terrace, 3 members of staff and 8 volunteers removed 20,000 bedding plants and replaced them with spring bulbs ready for the 2016 season. Heavily scented hyacinth and violas form part of the planting scheme visitors will be able to enjoy.

Caring for our trees is another important aspect of winter maintenance programme in the grounds. Each year a survey is conducted which informs the work that we need to complete. Our specialists consider the condition of the individual trees, their location, hazards, disease, storm damage and any areas of dead wood which may need to be removed. All these aspects are taken into account before tree surgeons climb scale these magnificent plants and make sure they are in the best possible condition.

In the Bird Garden:

Harewood House in Leeds maintains trees

Tree clearing in the Bird Garden

The Bird Garden is undergoing a major change this winter with tree clearing and maintenance starting off this exciting project. We are in the process of finalising plans for an enhanced bird collection, aviary repair work and more. Watch this space for updates throughout the winter months!

These are just some of the activities which take place behind the scenes when we are closed. They form a very important function to protect, maintain and develop Harewood House Trust for future generations.

Geronimo is back! Children’s festival to return with a new home at Harewood House

Geronimo children's festival at Harewood

Following a hugely successful first festival in 2015, Geronimo is proud to announce it is returning with a new second home at Harewood House, just outside Leeds.

Taking place over the weekends of 1 – 2 May (Harewood House), Geronimo is back, bigger and better with a huge programme of events lined up for both venues.

Set against the wonderful woodland backdrops of two of England’s premier visitor attractions, Geronimo will yet again be delivering an exciting array of acts, amazing experiences and wonderful adventures, including lots of new attractions – all resulting in a fantastic family day out.

Festival Director, Simon Goldman said: “After the huge success of Geronimo at Tatton Park in 2015, we decided to look for another venue to give even more families the chance to enjoy the Geronimo experience. As a father of seven, I know how hard it is to find quality days out that cater for the whole family. With Geronimo, we’ve created a festival that’s going to keep the kids entertained all day long, and create memories that will last a lot longer.

“Expect a line up jam packed with some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment, a brand new theatre and literary zone with award winning productions and a second stage featuring live music. And there are hundreds of other crazy and unusual activities like giant Tortoise encounters, stone carving and a crime scene for kids to solve. This really is the chance to tick off some of your 50 things to do before you’re 11 and three quarters!

Geronimo children's festival at Harewood, Yorkshire

The programme, includes:

The return of Mr Bloom to the Geronostage Zone! Geronimites can ‘pop along’ and say ‘Ello!’ with Mr Bloom, where there’ll be a bundle of veggie stories, gardening games, and catchy nursery songs for tiddlers and parents alike. Alex Winters from Cbeebies will be hosting the main stage each day alongside popular children’s TV presenter, Katy Ashworth, who will be performing live on stage each day, along with daily meet and greets. Join Cook and Line from Swashbuckle in a rip-roaring pirate adventure! Full of fun songs and silly slapstick comedy, this energetic and interactive performance will be loved by children of all ages.

The Adrenaline Zone will challenge even the bravest adventurers with tree climbing, den making and a thrilling zip line that will reach speeds of up to 60KPH! For those who like things a little less fast paced, there are fencing and archery taster lessons and Parkour sessions where Geronimites can learn how to jump and roll like a Pro.

New for 2016 is the Arena Zone, an extravaganza of live displays featuring motorbike display teams, sheepdog shows with a difference (we haven’t got any sheep so we had to use geese instead!) and owls in the falconry show – on horseback (what else would you expect at Geronimo?). For history fans, watch the Knights of the Royal Order as they carry out a live joust, or check out a local band of cowboys showing off their horse handling skills.

If you thought the Library Zone sounded dull then think again! Join some dance classes to learn Bollywood or Zumba moves or enjoy a gigantic drumming session – beware, it’s going to be noisy! For fans of Frozen, there will be a Frozen singalong and the talented Mr Yipadees show will be bringing instruments to life.

Catch award winning theatre productions in The Theatre Zone, with Pocket Story Theatre – winner of the primary times children’s choice awards at the Edinburgh Fringe. Fabularium is the most eccentric of travelling shows and Les Enfants Terrible present the Imaginary Menagerie— travel with Dr Longitude as he regales you with his strange stories and takes about his travels.

Gasp in awe at the breathtaking aerial trapeze show, try your hand at plate spinning, or hop onto stilts in the Circus Zone. This zone also includes a full circus show and Circus fudge will also be performing his show from Glastonbury festival – don’t miss it!

Family days out at Harewood, Yorkshire

Enjoy a hands-on wildlife experience in The Pasture Zone where kids of all ages can climb aboard for a ride on one of the donkeys or Shetland ponies. Crocodile Joe will be hosting his amazing reptile show and new for this year, there will be the largest collection of giant Tortoises coming to Geronimo.

In the 3ft and Under Zone, little ones can join a fun class with Tumble Tots, take a ride on a balance bike or take a dance lesson with baby ballet. For the tiny tots, simply chill out in the baby yoga tent.

Fans of live music are in for a treat at the Bandstand Zone with popular acts on throughout the day. The lineup will be announced shortly.

Face painting at Harewood, Leeds

Creative kids can join in the many craft workshops in the Funky Junk Zone. From amazing woodwork workshops, hair braiding, face painting and fairy making workshops, to stone carving and totem pole making, there is something for everyone to get stuck in to.

Or why not enjoy some old fashioned fun in the Fairground Zone? With an old fashioned Helter Skelter, traditional carousel and steam powered swing chairs for kids and grown ups who are still kids at heart!

And where better to have some fun than in the beautiful woodlands of Harewood House? Transformed into the Woodland Zone, Geronimites can make a mud pie or fairy potion, learn to create a whistle from a carrot or build a den. Older kids can monkey around in the trees in a mobile high ropes course or strap on a helmet and ride the mountain bike course.

Tickets are on sale now at, priced from £18.50pp. A ticket for Geronimo Harewood also includes access to Below Stairs of the House.

2015 Thank You

As winter closes in, another busy season at Harewood has drawn to a close. We would like to thank you for playing your part in our busy 2015 year.

We kicked off 2015 in style with our busiest ever ‘Spring at Harewood’. We welcomed thousands of people across the school Easter holidays to enjoy the great outdoors bursting into life.

Explore the great outdoors at Harewood, Leeds

April 2015: Visitors explore the great outdoors at ‘Spring at Harewood’

Our 2015 exhibition programme saw Harewood’s own stories take centre stage. ‘The Art of Conservation’ allowed you to see how we care for Harewood’s extensive Chippendale furniture collection. The exhibition included beautiful drawings made by the Chippendale workshop, video’s of the State Bed being restored and some of the furniture itself.

Harewood Exhibition

April 2015: A look behind the scenes at some of the techniques used by expert conservators

In the Watercolour Rooms, we explored Harewood’s Rum Story. This popular tale told, in detail, about the worlds oldest and most expensive rum was discovered in the cellars in 2011.

Harewood Rum

April 2015: The oldest & most expensive rum in the world

We ended our 2015 season with a Summer of Sculpture examining the human form. The stunning Gaudier-Brzeska exhibition in the Terrace Gallery, ran in conjunction with Kettle’s Yard, looked for the first time, at Brzeska’s fascination with dance and form. In the Watercolour Rooms, emerging artist Thomas J Price exhibited his works. These pieces share a preoccupations with the body and the face in particular using the minute detail of facial expressions as the centre focus.

The CLA Game Fair marked the biggest event on Harewood’s calendar celebrating field sports in Britain, including clay pigeon shooting, fishing, falconry, horse & hound and more. We welcomed 150,000 visitors to Harewood for the CLA Game Fair despite some bad weather. Almost all of our 4500 acres were used for everything from camping to off-road driving experiences.

CLA Game Fair at Harewood House in Yorkshire

CLA Game Fair at Harewood House in Yorkshire

With winter preparations already underway, the closed season will see the whole team involved with our extensive Bird Garden redevelopment project. Watch this space for exciting, new additions to the Harewood visitor experience when we re-open our gates in 2016!

Harewood House near Leeds has flamingos

Some of these birds have been at Harewood since 1969

Following on from the success of ‘The Art of Conservation’, and to mark the tercentenary of Lancelot “Capability” Brown’s birth, 2016 will see our new exhibition ‘The Art of Landscape‘ kick off the season. With 1000 acres of Brownian designed parkland, we will be exploring the brilliance behind the immense landscapes he created here at Harewood.

Capability Brown at Harewood, Yorkshire

Lancelot “Capability” Brown

Once again, thank you for your continued support. With lots of exciting things already lined up, 2016 promises to be another great year at Harewood and we look forward to welcoming you back next year!

Tree Story

Autumn landscape at Harewood created by Capability Brown

As the dark nights draw in and the leaves begin to change, views across Harewood’s landscape become a vivid autumn spectacle. The red, orange and yellow leaves provide a vibrant display throughout October and November.

With 850 acres of managed woodland, there are hundreds of trees under Harewood’s care. From the creation of the “Capability” Brown parkland to modern events like the Tour de France, these trees have presided over much of Harewood’s history. Here are a few trees for you to look out for on your next visit.

  • The Tallest Grand Fir in Yorkshire:
    Harewood is home to Yorkshire’s tallest Grand Fir growing in the Lakeside Gardens (SE of the Cascade beside the path towards the Walled Garden). This tree was last measured at 36m tall or 118ft!
  • Our Oldest Trees:
    Exactly which is the oldest tree on the Estate is difficult to say. What we do know, is that along the Lakeside Path, two, beautiful, native trees reside which were planted around the same time as the “Capability” Brown parkland was design in the late 18th century. The striking Beech and Oak trees can be found just before the Walled Garden and are at least 250 years old.
  • Fairy Tree: Did you know Harewood has a magical tree which is home to a family of fairies? The grand old Oak stands proudly on the water’s edge of the Lake. If children walk up really quietly, they might just see a fairy busy tidying their house!
  • Head Gardener’s One to Watch:
    Choosing just one tree for you to look out for was no easy task for our Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson. After some persuasion, it was decided that the Black Walnut tree, which sits alongside the Ice Cream Kiosk, is the one for you to find. As autumn flourishes, the leaves on this beautiful tree become a striking gold which you simply cannot miss!

We hope you can join us to see this wonderful, autumnal display. Enjoy the crisp air, warm sunshine and crunchy leaves as you explore everything autumn has to offer at Harewood.

Garden Tips from Harewood

Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson, in the Walled Garden at Harewood

Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson with fresh produce grown in the Walled Garden

September is a busy month in the gardens. From harvesting and weeding to spring planting, there’s plenty to be getting on with! Here are a few helpful tips from our Gardens Team to help you on your way.

De-seed perennial weeds:
To help stop the spread of perennial weeds, it’s a good idea to remove the seed heads in September.

Apply mulch after rain:
With so much to do, it’s a good idea to apply mulch to your beds after a heavy rain shower. It keeps the moisture in and give you a little more time to think about next year’s planting.

Harvesting vegetable crops:
For allotments owners and veg growers now is a wonderful time of year. All that hard work has paid off and you can enjoy the fruits, potatoes and onions of your labour.

Order your spring bulbs:
Now is the time to get ready for spring. Get your bulbs ordered and plan for the new year ahead. A good tip is to plant bulbs which flower in different months to give a succession of bright flowers as the seasons change. Don’t forget that September is the best time to plant Bluebells. Get them in early to ensure a full bloom next year.

At Harewood the Terrace, Archery Border and Walled Garden are at their best. Make sure you come along and enjoy them before the end of the season.