Now that December’s here, excitement is starting to mount as Christmas grows ever closer. If you’re well organised then the presents will already have been bought, wrapped and hidden away ready for putting under the tree. This means you’ll have all the time in the world to enjoy any of the hundreds of seasonal events taking place up and down the country.
From continental markets to tree festivals, Winter Wonderlands to traditional pantomimes, when it comes to UK Christmas events you’ll be spoilt for choice – so to make it a little easier to make up your mind we’ve selected five of the best.
The Enchanted Christmas Garden
Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster
The beautiful, Italianate Brodsworth Hall is one of the finest surviving examples of a grand Victorian country house, which has remained largely unchanged since it was built in 1863.
During the Christmas season its equally magnificent grounds are transformed into an enchanted garden with colourful displays, thousands of twinkling lights, seasonal music, food stalls selling delicious treats - even a winter barbecue. Pride of place goes to a magical illuminated trail that brings the tree canopies and other plants vividly to life. Best of all, Father Christmas will also be there to welcome you throughout the evening, bearing gifts for everyone who visits him.
The event runs every night from December 16th till the 23rd, with the last admission at 7.45pm. Tickets are £9 for adults and £5.40 for children aged between 5 and 15, with a family ticket costing £23.40. There are also special discount rates for English Heritage members.
Birmingham Christmas Market
Today there are German Christmas Markets in virtually every UK city, but few are as well-attended and diverse as Birmingham’s. Their very first Christmas market was held in 1997 and featured just 10 stalls, but over the years it has steadily grown to become the biggest event of its kind outside of Germany and Austria.
Based around the city’s grand Victoria Square, there’s everything you’d expect to find including stalls serving up delicious pretzels and bratwurst, as well as the stalls offering traditional wooden toys and hand-made jewellery. Until you’ve visited for yourself it’s hard to imagine the sheer scale of the event but, to give you an idea, it typically attracts over 5 million visitors each year.
This year, to celebrate 50 years of twinned city status with Frankfurt, Birmingham Christmas Market is scheduled to run past Christmas right up until December 29th, and is open from 10am till 9pm every day, except Christmas Day.
Southbank Centre Winter Festival
The Southbank area of London is always a very lively spot all year round, but it’s at Christmas time that it really comes alive, with its Winter Festival running all the way through to January 25th.
There’s a whole host of things to enjoy including carol singers and other street entertainers, food stalls and one of London’s biggest Christmas markets, spread across 50 wooden chalets selling all manner of quirky and interesting gifts. Fans of Scandi style will also want to check out the pop-up two-storey lodge serving Swedish food round warming fire pits.
Most of the Festival attractions are open till 10pm, except Christmas Eve when it ends at 6pm and on Christmas Day when it’s not open at all.
Lapland UK, Ascot
If you’re visiting London then why not hire a car and you’ll be able to visit Lapland without even getting near to the Arctic Circle.
That’s because at Lapland UK you’ll be able to enjoy the full experience including present-making elves, reindeer, huskies and much, much more besides.
There’s a tour of the magical place every 30 minutes between 9am and 5pm, and the whole experience lasts over 3 hours during which you’ll do everything from visiting Mother Christmas’ kitchen to going ice skating. Naturally, your visit will conclude with a visit to Santa himself.
Lapland UK is open every day up to and including Christmas Eve – for ticket prices visit the official website.
Burning the Clocks, Brighton
To mark the shortest day of the year on December 21st there is the annual Burning the Clocks festival in Brighton on the south coast. It begins with a parade of paper and willow lanterns through the streets to the beach where they are added to a huge bonfire, followed by a spectacular firework display. The spectacular free event starts at 6.30pm when the parade departs from the city centre heading for Madeira Drive.
So even if you do have a million and one other things to do to get everything ready for Christmas, it’ll be well worth sparing a little time to get along to one or two of these events - then you’re sure to find you’ll really be getting into the festive spirit.