Countess of Carnarvon on horseback in front of Highclere Castle

Just in time for the release of the new full-length film, Downton Abbey, based on the Emmy Award-winning MASTERPIECE series, Viking has announced its partnership with Focus Features, Universal Pictures and Carnival Films. The movie made its global premiere today in London but will be coming to U.S. theatres September 20, 2019.

To coincide with the premiere, Viking today unveiled its new Pre/Post-Cruise Extension, entitled “Great Homes, Gardens & Gin”, which includes an even more intimate version of Viking’s Privileged Access tour of Highclere Castle, the filming location of Downton Abbey, and the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

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This fresh collaboration with the film’s studio production companies builds upon Viking’s original sponsorship of Downton Abbey during those years in which the celebrated series aired on PBS, and demonstrates Viking’s continued commitment to providing culturally enriching programming.

“Many of our guests were introduced to both Viking and Highclere Castle while watching the Downton Abbey series. For this reason, we are linked in the minds of many Downton Abbey fans,” said Karine Hagen, Executive Vice President of Viking. “Partnering for the release of the new film is a natural extension of our close relationship with Highclere Castle, and our close personal friendship with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, with whom we proudly created Viking’s highest-rated cruise extension.”

Designed to give guests an opportunity to explore Oxford and experience life at an English country manor house, the new extension grants up-close, exclusive viewings of a few grand estates that have served as filming locations for popular MASTERPIECE and PBS productions.

Besides Highclere, the program includes a visit to Broughton Castle, which provided the backdrop for the award-winning MASTERPIECE series, Wolf Hall. Broughton also happens to be home to Britain’s influential Fiennes family, whose members include present-day film stars Ralph Fiennes and Joseph Fiennes, as well as the renowned British explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Guests on the extension will also visit Chavenage House in the Cotswolds, which dates from the sixteenth century and has served as the setting for many a film and television shows over the years, but is perhaps best known for doubling as Trenwith House in MASTERPIECE’s current series, Poldark. In addition, guests will also have the opportunity to tour the gardens of Highgrove House, the private home of Charles, The Prince of Wales.

The new extension does promise “Great Homes, Gardens & Gin”, and, delivering on the last portion, Highclere Castle will host guests for a tasting of the recently-launched Highclere Castle Gin during their visit—a super-premium London Dry Gin inspired by botanicals elements of the castle’s gardens. The extension also features a trip to the nearby Bombay Sapphire Distillery for an education on the history and production of the distinctive spirit.

The Great Homes, Gardens & Gin extension will be available on Viking’s Rhine Getaway river cruise and British Isles Explorer ocean cruise itineraries, beginning in 2021.

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