UK: 15 of the best festive finds worth taking a detour for

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by Hertz - 11 December 2017

Whether you’re visiting family or planning a road trip during the holidays, get your festive fix en route with a Hertz detour. From hugging huskies to joining in a live snowball fight, here are 15 surprising stop-offs to give your journey a bit of Christmas magic.

Where: M25 – surrounding London

1. Hug a husky at Hever Castle, Sevenoaks

If you’re heading on the M25, take a stop at this lesser-known castle with its Twelve Days Of Christmas trail. Follow the guided walk where there’s a vintage fairground and characters to meet along the way, including Siberian Huskies! Little ones can even join in a craft workshop to make Christmas decorations.

When: 11 December to 24 December 2017

Set the SatNav to: Hever Castle, Hever Road, Nr Edenbridge TN8 7NG

Route: 9 miles off the M25 (via B2042)

2. See Hogwarts in the snow at Warner Bros Studio

Though it’s hardly a hidden gem, the studios are giving Harry Potter fans the chance to see some of the film’s iconic locations decked out with decorations, crackling fires and special effects. The Great Hall will be filled with a festive banquet with dripping icicles and sparkling snow, and you can even attend the Yule Ball for a memorable celebration.

When:18 November to 28 January

Set the SatNav to: Warner Bros Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden WD25 7LR

Route:4.6 miles off the M25

Where: M20 – surrounding Kent

3. Go ice skating at a historic manor, Ashford

Trade your driving shoes for ice skates and mince pies at the luxurious Eastwell Manor, which is hosting an outdoor ice rink for the first time this Christmas. Set in majestic grounds and with the Elizabethan manor as your backdrop, it’s one of the most picturesque settings to get your skates on. Sneak off for a relaxing spa treatment at their Champneys Spa if you have time afterwards – just be sure to book in advance!

When:1 December to 2 January

Set the SatNav to: Champneys Eastwell Manor, Eastwell Court, Ashford TN25 4HR

Route:4.5 miles off the M20

Where: M4 – en route to Bristol, Bath or Oxford

4. Visit Santa’s grotto at Kew Gardens, Richmond

This beautiful botanical garden gets a Christmassy makeover from November. You can follow the sparkling trail set with millions of lights illuminating the gardens, including the Glasshouse. Visit Santa’s Grotto in the ‘North Pole’ or settle in front of the real, roaring fire with a mug of decadent hot chocolate from the café.

When: 22 November to 1 January

Set the SatNav to: Kew Gardens, Richmond TW9 3AB

Route:2.9 miles off the M4

5. See the living advent calendar, Henley-on-Thames

Every evening in the 24 days leading up to Christmas, the town of Henley will be hosting fun, festive performances for everyone to watch. From Christmas carols to book readings, there are also plays on local folklore, inspired by the Scandinavian tradition of celebrating the build up to the big day. Bravo!

When: 1 December to 24 December

Set the SatNav to: Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

Route:10 miles off the M4 (via A404)

6. Walk in enchanted woods, Gloucestershire

Take a walk in the enchanted woods of Westonbirt Arboretum, which will be shimmering with festive lights. At the end of the guided trail you can explore the Christmas village, visit Father – and Mother – Christmas, and sing along with the choir’s festive tunes.

When: Select dates in December

Set the SatNav to: Westonbirt, Tetbury GL8 8QS

Route: 11 miles off the M4 (via A429)

Where: M40 – en route from London to Birmingham

7. Take a haunted Christmas Carol tour, Stratford-upon-Avon

If you’re not a fan of Christmas clichés, try this haunted Christmas tour of the haunted Tudor World in Shakespeare’s birth town, Stratford-upon-Avon. This one’s strictly for the adults and very brave children.

When: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in December

Set the SatNav to: 40 Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6EE

Route: 7 miles off the M40 (via A46)

Where: M1 – surrounding Leeds

8. Explore Chatsworth House by twilight, Derbyshire

Break up a long, dark drive with a visit to Chatsworth House. This grand estate is all dressed up for Christmas, and offers special twilight evenings where you can see the house in all its festive glory. Help yourself to a mince pie before listening to traditional bell ringers and a strings trio.

When: Select dates in December

Set the SatNav to: Chatsworth House, Bakewell DE45 1PP

Route: 16 miles off M1 (via A617)

9. Check out the hidden Christmas Market, Leeds

Want to try something different? This hidden market can only be found by walking through a secret passageway and, once inside, there’s everything from amazing performances and DJ sets to festive street food and craft workshops. Your ticket gets your five hours of entertainment and plenty to eat and drink, so save this for a longer stop off.

When: Select dates in December

Set the SatNav to: Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds LS5 3EH

Route: 9 miles off M1 (via M621)

10. Watch a light show at the Museum Gardens, York

Take a detour to this historic city, where York Museum Gardens are hosting a special festive light show (your Instagram feed will thank you). You can take part in a special game of UV hide and seek before heading down a tunnel of shimmering lights and finishing with a spectacular bonfire – where you can toast your own marshmallows!

When: 16 November to 1 January

Set the SatNav to: York Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York YO1 7FR

Route: 16 miles off M1 (via A64)

Where: M60 – surrounding Manchester

11. Try a gourmet Christmas menu by a celebrity chef, Manchester

Ideal for foodies, James Martin’s cosy restaurant in Manchester has an amazing Christmas menu throughout December. You can choose between two and three courses and the dishes are extra special, from wagyu ox cheek to figgy Christmas pudding.

When: 1 December to 23 December

Set the SatNav to: James Martin Manchester, 2 Watson Street, Manchester M3 4LP

Route: 4.8 miles off M60 (via A56)

Where: M6 – from Birmingham to Carlisle

12. Take part in a live snowball fight, Cumbria

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Head to the Lake District’s Theatre By The Lake to watch Snow Play – an immersive performance featuring a giant snowman where you can take part in a super snowball fight. The seating style is relaxed, so you can just show up and pick your seats as you arrive.

When: 11 December to 23 December

Set the SatNav to: Theatre By The Lake, Lakeside, Lake Road, Keswick CA12 5DJ

Route: 18 miles off M6 (via A66)

13. Experience Christmas in Germany, Birmingham

The Christmas market in Frankfurt’s twin city, Birmingham, is the best authentic German Christmas market outside Germany. Feast on bratwursts and schnitzels with wintry ‘gluhwein’ in traditional mugs. You can also do your Christmas shopping with plenty of unique handcrafted gifts, from toys and jewellery.

When: 16 November to 24 December

Set the SatNav to: Victoria Square, New Street, Birmingham

Route: 3.6 miles off the Mg (via A38)

Where: M8 – surrounding Edinburgh

14. Walk the Royal Mile of Lights, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Royal Mile is an amazing sight any time of the year, but it’s extra special at Christmas. The streets will be lit up with 26 arches of more than 60,000 lights illuminating the Old Town of Edinburgh, from City Chambers to the Tron Kirk. The lights are interactive and synced to choral songs, so expect a really magical experience.

When: 30 November to 24 December

Set the SatNav to: Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Route: 7 miles off M8 (via a71)

15. Tuck into Christmas street food, Glasgow

Glasgow has not one but two Christmas markets and we’d recommend heading to St Enoch Square, which is open until 22 December. There’s a focus on gourmet treats and exciting street food, with bites from as far afield as South America – plus festive classics from hot chocolate to mince pies (of course).

When: 9 November to 22 December

Set the SatNav to: Glasgow 

Route: 1.7 miles via M8


Inspired to try a detour with a Hertz hire car? Find out more and book here.