So here we are in the month of Christmas! Festivities are springing around the country with xmas markets, xmas shopping experiences and some xmas cheer! Here’s a guide to find out where’s fantastic to go in this xmas obsessed country…bah humbug! (By the way, no xmas post is complete without any xmas posts of moi!)
It doesn’t get much more Christmassy than seeing the UK’s towns and cities light up during these wintry nights. The festivities which take place across the British Isles are proof that if you fancy a quick weekend break away during December – or just somewhere new to do your Christmas shopping – there’s no place like home; or at least, the next Great British city.
We begin with what is likely to be one of the chilliest – and undoubtedly atmospheric – festive spots, the Scottish Highlands, for a festive break unlike any other. Take part in a traditional Scottish Ceilidh night and dance until the sun comes up in the Highlands’ capital, Inverness, before moving on to admire the perfect wintry views featuring ice-capped mountains and frozen lakes on the Isle of Skye.
Moving down the mainland is Leeds, often overlooked as one of the UK’s ‘must see’ destinations. This Christmas, the city’s Millennium Square will be transformed into a winter haven, with wooden stalls offering handmade gifts and traditional German treats such as stollen and Gluhwein. Leeds’ huge shopping centre The Corn Exchange is on hand for you to pick up some last minute Christmas gifts, and you can pop into the fantastic Bierkeller bar on the way back to your hotel.
Making our way further down south; you’ve not seen a true Christmas light display until you wander down London’s Oxford Street. Lit up for all to see, the array of shapes and patterns is truly spectacular. The capital city also has specialist toy and gift shops and, being a tourist hot-spot, you’ve got restaurants, entertainment and shopping centres at every turn. London’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is also a must-see. The public space is taken over by an ice rink, fairground rides, and a huge wooden hut in which you can warm up with a giant stein of beer or mulled wine.
Further to the east lies the town of Rochester in which Charles Dickens, author of ‘A Christmas Carol’, was laid to rest. The Kent town provides everything one could ask for with a traditional English weekend break at this time of year; its Christmas market is located in the castle, which is perched on the eastern bank of the River Medway. This romantic setting is given further fuel with a beautiful light display; plus there are some lovely independent shops to pick up some more unique gifts from.
Across to the South West lies the historic city of Bath, and with it, a 150-chalet strong Christmas market. The imposing cathedral is lit up at night, and makes the perfect market backdrop. Wrap up warm and take an evening stroll around the city – its famous monuments look even more impressive as they shine out into the dark nights.
It wouldn’t be a trip around the UK without a visit to Wales – step foot into Cardiff’s city centre and you’ll see a winter wonderland complete with an Alpine Village, ice rink and some festive street theatre. Spend a weekend in the bustling Welsh capital, where you can stay a stone’s throw from the festivities, close to Cardiff bay and the plethora of shops that the city has to offer.