Downton Abbey Christmas special: What do we know so far?

From snow and sparkle to guest stars and grand castles, here's what can we expect when we settle down on our sofas, turkey sandwiches in hand, on Christmas Day

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Last night’s episode might have been the end of Downton Abbey series five, but that’s not the last we’ll see of the Crawley clan before the year is out. Robert, Cora, Bates, Anna and co will be back on our telly screens to entertain us while we lie, surrounded by wrapping paper and full of Brussels sprouts, on our sofas this Christmas Day. 

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But what’s going to happen? We’ve already made some plot-based predictions but now it’s time for the cold, hard facts…

It’s going to be set at Christmas

Downton Abbey Christmas specials are well known for being dramatic – we’ve witnessed both romantic proposals and tragic deaths – but they are not, in recent years, known for being especially Christmassy. That, though, is all about to change come December 25th 2014. 

“The next Downton Christmas special will have a tree… presents,” Allen Leech assured RadioTimes.com earlier this year, while Elizabeth McGovern recently told STV that the episode is “very Christmassy… people who are looking for a big tree will be satisfied this year.”

And there will be loads of snow

Because if you can’t have a white Christmas in Downtonland, where can you? “It’s Christmas and there is snow,” Michelle Dockery, aka Lady Mary, told STV

But not at Downton Abbey itself 

We might be getting the festive period we’ve been dreaming off – think carols, gifts and roasting chestnuts – but not at Downton Abbey itself. Like the last two Yuletide specials, which saw the Crawleys visit the MacClares at Duneagle Castle in Scotland and Grantham House in London, our favourite upper class family are on the move this year.

“The family travels to another gorgeous castle, which is in some ways every bit, if not more, stunning than their own home,” Elizabeth McGovern told STV

The episode was filmed at Hogwarts

We’ve found that “gorgeous castle.” The cast were spotted filming at Alnwick Castle, a medieval fortress in Northumberland. The grand castle played the part of Hogwarts in several of the Harry Potter films – Maggie Smith will feel right at home – but whose home actually is it? Our guess: The Crawleys will be spending Christmas with newly-weds Rose and Atticus and his parents the Aldridges. 

It might not be what you’re imagining

“Expect something a little bit different,” Julian Ovenden, who plays Charles Blake, told RadioTimes.com recently. i.e: Don’t expect another proposal in the middle of a snow storm. 

Matthew Goode is set to star 

New face alert! “Matthew Goode will appear in the Christmas episode as a guest character,” a Downton spokesperson told The Telegraph last week. Goode (who has period drama previous in the form of the Brideshead Revisited movie) is expected to play another love interest for Lady Mary. It’s about time she had another suitor; she’s been flitting between Charles Blake and Tony Gillingham since the beginning of series four…  

But George Clooney isn’t

I know. Disappointing, right? Clooney will be donning his dinner jacket and embracing all things Downton, but as part of ITV’s festive fundraiser Text Santa, not the actual Christmas episode. Thought we’d better just clear that up now to avoid any horrible realisations on the big day itself… 

Tom Branson and Daisy might leave

The series five finale saw Branson, played by Allen Leech, reveal plans to leave the Abbey and start a new life in America, while Daisy decided to hand in her notice and move to London. In the end, the assistant cook said she’d wait until after she’d passed her exams, and Branson agreed to delay his departure until after Christmas  but that could still mean we’ll have goodbyes to say on Christmas Day…

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Downton Abbey returns for a Christmas special later this year