Where can you go to get that festive feeling this year? We’ve put together some of Britain’s most atmospheric seasonal experiences to get you in the Christmas mood.
Borough Market – an evening with cheese
12 December: Tuck into delicious cheeses while you sup wine, beer or hot spiced cider in festive fashion at the aromatic barrows of Borough Market. It takes place on 12 December and is wonderfully Christmassy, tucked beneath Victorian arches alongside the towering spire of Southwark Cathedral and the banks of the Thames. Find out more here.
Winchester Christmas Markets
17 November - 20 December: Lit with the glow of Christmas lights and surrounded by the medieval elegance of Winchester’s historic buildings — its towering gothic cathedral foremost among them — Winchester Christmas Market brings you a sumptuous tableau of shopping and Christmas atmosphere. Songs and entertainment, festive food, open-air ice skating and the sparkle of illuminated craft stalls await, not to mention gifts of all kinds to keep your friends and family happy.
Edinburgh's Highland Christmas Market
16 November - 5 January: Pick up traditional Scottish produce, enjoy a hot cup of mulled wine and browse for Christmas gifts in Edinburgh’s traditional Highland Christmas market. It’s nestled in Princes Street Gardens, sandwiched between Edinburgh’s shopping high street and some of the city’s top attractions – the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Memorial, so you’ll be very much in the heart of things as you shop for Christmas treats. Discover more here.
Famous Christmas window displays
Fortnum & Mason is London’s famous luxury food seller, home to some truly mouth-watering delicacies, food-filled hampers and all kinds of other delicious delights. At Christmas its window displays are a thing of beauty. Atmospheric portals into carefully crafted other-worlds, they reveal everything from enchanted forests to scenes from fairy tales with flamboyantly dressed figures and plenty of playful details. It definitely brings the sense of Christmas magic to life, and for many, stopping by the windows for a good look is a central part of Christmas in London. Selfridges is another top spot for Christmassy window displays. Among the capital's longest-established department stores, it’s a Christmas shopper’s dream come true. Stroll in, find every type of gift you could imagine, and then leave with your shopping done for the year. Or, just stay outside and enjoy its lavish Christmas window displays which often involve moving figures, fantastic lighting and all kinds of enthralling festive scenes.
Christmas trees and carols in Trafalgar Square
London’s main Christmas tree stands in Trafalgar Square, and has a charming history. It’s presented as a gift each year by the Norwegian city of Oslo in return for British support during the Second World War and has appeared in the square every year since 1947. It’s absolutely enormous and is something of a Christmas focal point just next to London’s shopping centres. On the first Thursday in December there’s a grand tree lighting ceremony which is extremely popular. This is the place to come to hear traditional Christmas carols, which are often sung by choirs gathered around the tree itself. For even more music, pop across the road to St Martin-in-the-Fields — one of London’s premier concert venues. It holds a great range of Christmas concerts, from carol-singing to classical performances.
National Trust Christmas events
The National Trust's grand country mansions, historic stately homes and brooding medieval ruins leap into life around Christmas time. Many hold activity workshops, carol services and fun days for kids, and nearly all of them are fantastically decorated with atmospheric Christmas displays, exhibitions and guided tours. Fountains Abbey is illuminated for the Christmas season, and holds wonderfully atmospheric Christmas lunches, winter walks and carol concerts. Find out more here.