Connecticut’s castle decorated and open this holiday season

Looking for a touch of rustic to highlight your holidays?

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection might have just the thing for you: Gillette Castle will be open for tours this holiday season.

The East Haddam castle, the former estate of actor William Gillette, “famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, will be decorated in a rustic style that compliments its unique interior,” DEEP said in a release. “The castle was decorated this year by many dedicated volunteers, businesses, community members and Friends of CT State Parks groups along with Park staff.”

“We would like to thank all of the volunteers who helped decorate the Castle for this exciting holiday program,” said Tom Tyler, director of Connecticut State Parks, also in the release. “Most importantly, we thank the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park for all of their work to bring back this popular program, and to acknowledge the generous donation from Dominion Energy that helped make this possible.”

The castle will be open to the public for tours on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday between Nov. 23 and Dec. 23 on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (last ticket sold at 8 p.m.) and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last ticket sold at 3:30 p.m.), the release said.

Further, “outdoor entertainment during the holiday season will include bonfires, carolers, and musicians,” with live performances at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the release said.

“There will be an ongoing children’s scavenger hunt that includes the museum, visitor center, and cider mill. William and Helen Gillette, as portrayed by our friends, Harold and Theodora Niver, will greet guests in the castle on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. Rumor has it Santa and Mrs. Claus may make a few appearances as well.”

Tickets to tour the castle can be purchased at the Visitors Center. Tickets can also be pre-purchased online at, the release said. The museum entrance fee is $6 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-12, and no charge for children ages 5 and younger, CT Disabled Veterans pass holders, and those Connecticut seniors who hold Charter Oak passes, the release said. The Sherlock Grill will be open weekends during the holiday season and serving a winter menu. Additionally, the Friends of Gillette Gift shop will be open weekends in the Visitor Center.

The state bought Gillette Castle in 1943 and it is owned and operated by DEEP, the release said. The property includes the castle, visitor center, concessions, and a little more than 200 acres with miles of trails. The museum will be open weekends only. Castle tours and program of events are subject to change in the event of inclement weather. The grounds of Gillette Castle State Park are open daily, year-round, from 8 a.m. until sunset. The Gillette Castle State Park is located at 67 River Road, East Haddam.