Festive Breaks in the UK


The countdown to Christmas is on, but there’s still time to fit in a festive break in the UK, says writer Laura Dewar…

From Tiny Tim to Toad of Toad Hall, join in the festive spirit at Chatsworth House, which will transform its rooms into scenes from Wind in the Willows. The painted Hall will serve as the Baronial Toad Hall, while the Great Chamber and guest bedrooms will also be transformed to reflect scenes from Kenneth Grahame’s best-loved classic. Chatsworth will host live seasonal musical entertainment from brass brands to string quartets, and there will be a collection of stalls selling gifts and food.

For a Dickensian-style Christmas experience, head for Blists Hill Victorian town in Shropshire, where visitors can experience a bygone Christmas in the wonderfully decorated shops and cottages. Listen to brass bands, join in with carol singers, watch a mini pantomime and do some Christmas shopping. Try the family activities in the Good Shed before taking a horse-and-carriage ride, and, of course, don’t forget to make time to meet Father Christmas in his grotto.

Head away from the shops and busy streets and get ready for Christmas in a more natural setting at Kielder Water in Northumberland. Part of the Forest Park will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland, creating a traditional festive delight for all ages. Discover Father Christmas, Mrs Christmas and their friends, and take part in a host of great activities such as skating and snow-tubing, or visit the elves’ workshop and Christmas theatre.

Dubbing itself England’s Christmas capital, Winchester is the perfect winter-break destination. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Winchester’s seasonal ice rink and Christmas markets, which now include more than 100 attractive wooden chalets. They are all selected for the quality of their products and feature a wide range of Christmas goodies, including seasonal food and drink, hand-made British crafts and unusual gifts and decorations. A large outdoor ice rink lies at the centre of Winchester’s Christmas activity, in the shadow of the cathedral’s medieval architecture.

Manchester’s award-winning Christmas markets return this month, bringing more than 300 beautifully decorated stalls and chalets to the city centre. Soak up the atmosphere and follow the market trail as it winds through Manchester’s streets, tempting you with gifts, crafts, jewellery, clothes and toys. You won’t go hungry – the markets are famous for bratwurst, but you can also treat yourself to a plate of Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella or a good old-fashioned hog roast.