Without a doubt, the best money I spend all year is our family Friends of Chatsworth membership. We’ve been members for so many years that I’ve lost count, but every year I’m astounded by the value we get out of our cards.
There are a number of different options you can choose from. You can buy membership for an individual, a couple or a family and there are silver and gold level memberships which each have different benefits.
For years we had the couples’ membership, but as the girls got older we moved on to the family package. Gold family membership costs £240 a year, which sounds really expensive but I’m about to show you how quickly we get our money’s worth.
Free Entry to All Attractions
Firstly, and by far the best benefit of Gold membership is free entry to the house, gardens, farmyard and playground. A complete day entry ticket costs £60.90 for a family ticket (2 adults, 3 children). Before getting our membership we would never have gone in the house or gardens as we would have said it was too expensive. Now we got at least once a month and much more frequently over the Christmas period.
Another great benefit to free entry is that we don’t have to get annoyed if the kids just want to whip around the house or gardens. We know we can always come back another day and have another look around. It also means Mini Mess gets to see the farm animals as much as she wants to and they get to spend ages playing on the amazing adventure playground.
Also included in the gold membership is free parking. Parking at Chatsworth is currently £4 a time, so even if you just want to pop for a bite to eat or a look around the shops, you can still save quite a bit of money with your member’s card. This is particularly useful at Christmas market time, when parking can be up to £10 a day! I flash our member’s card, swan in and save my money for buying lovely treats.
Chatsworth International Horse Trials
As well as the free entry, you also get given complimentary tickets to a few of the main Chatsworth events. The first is the Dodson & Horrell International Horse Trials (cue Mr Mess making jokes about naughty horses). The Horse Trials are usually held over a weekend in May and feature a range of events such as dressage, showjumping and cross-country riding. Tickets start from £10 for an adult and £4.50 for a child so we save just under £25 in total.
To be honest, I don’t think we’d bother with the Horse Trials if we didn’t get the free tickets as we’re not really into equestrian sports but we have been a few times in the past and really enjoyed it. Mini Mess in particular loved watching the horses and they also have some nice stalls and attractions to keep the kids entertained.
Chatsworth Country Fair
I remember looking at the Chatsworth Country Fair before we were members and thinking it looked lovely but just wasn’t a priority for us to spend money on. Tickets cost £25 per adult although children under 14 are free which is pretty good value anyway. Now that we get our complimentary tickets, this is definitely one of our favourite events of the year. There’s far too much to talk about in this post but I wrote a whole post last year about what’s on offer.
Friends Summer Garden Party
Every July, Chatsworth hold a Friends Garden Party which is exclusively for Friends of Chatsworth. You get free tickets depending on the level of your membership and then you can buy extras for friends and family. Last year we took my sister-in-law and her husband and it was a lovely evening. Every one takes picnics, there’s a brass band playing music you can dance to and at the end of the evening is a stunning fireworks display. This year’s garden party is taking place in couple of weeks and I can’t wait!
As if all of that wasn’t enough, your membership card also gets you early bird booking and discounts on some events as well as occasional discounts or offers at the shops, restaurants and hotels.
Every penny of the Friends membership goes to support the Chatsworth House Trust, a charity dedicated to the long-term preservation of Chatsworth House and all that goes with it. After so many years enjoying the benefits, I can’t imagine us ever not being Friends of Chatsworth now.
Do you have any subscriptions/memberships you couldn’t live without? What’s your best buy of the year?