Britain's Favourite Festive Christmas Experiences
Britain’s festive season is fast approaching. There’s plenty to do whether one fancies icy gliding round London, buying intricate gifts from bespoke local crafters or discovering a hidden world of Christmassy grottos and adventure golf in Wales. Roasted chestnuts, German sausages, carnivals, illuminated trails, winery wonderlands - there’s no better place to be than Britain for atmospheric Christmas experiences.
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 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 hugely popular. This is the place to come to hear traditional Christmas carols, which are often sung by choirs gathered around the tree itself. Visitors are welcome to attend the tree lighting ceremony or stay for the carol singers.
September - December 2023
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. They reveal everything from enchanted forests to scenes from fairy tales with flamboyantly dressed figures and plenty of playful details. It brings the sense of holiday magic to life, and for many, stopping by the windows, is a central part of Christmas in London. The Christmas Shop at Fortnum & Mason will rep-open its doors in September 2023.
Selfridges is a top spot for festive window displays. Among the capital's longest-established department stores, it’s a shopper’s dream come true. Every type of gift one can imagine can be found here. For those not into shopping can stay outside and enjoy its lavish Christmas window displays which often involve moving figures, fantastic lighting, and all kinds of enthralling festive scenes.
Spin your way round the ice at one of London’s most iconic sites. With recently renovated Battersea Power Station and views of the River Thames as a perfect backdrop, visitors are sure to get into the festive spirit at Glide. There will be many different activities to choose from – skating over three interconnecting rinks or picking up the adrenaline at the vintage fun fair.
1-3 December 2023
Hampton Court Palace will turn into a fantastic festive food lover’s wonderland with everything from warming mulled wine to fantastic stocking fillers, sizzling sausages and from brownies to cinnamon dusted churros. Visitors will have the opportunity to soak into the festive atmosphere within the amazing grounds of Hampton Court Palace.
17 November - 17 December 2023
A World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, the palace is an endlessly interesting historic house, with grand rooms and glorious gardens. Known for its annual Christmas celebrations, in 2023 the Palace rooms will be transformed into a fantasy Sleeping Beauty world, retelling of this classic fairy-tale for a new generation, from the Great Hall filled by a huge glistening Christmas tree to the candle-lit bedchamber where Aurora sleeps, watched over by the Lilac Fairy. The Christmas Market will feature a selection of treasurable gifts and some sweet indulgence. This year there will be some new displays, including heart-shaped arches glittering in the moonlight, glowing tunnels filled with stars and an 8-metre sphere filled with over 20,000 moving LEDs. The dancing reflections in the colourful Cascades and magical Lakeside walk will also return this year.
A two-hour festive wreath making workshop where vistitors will learn floristry techniques to get thier home decorated in time for Christmas. There will be a range of skills to learn including how to tie professional bows creating a stunning welcome home for the front door. All materials including a pre-mossed ring will be provided.
November 2023 – January 2024
Bath's well-loved adventure golf course will be adorned with unique fairy light displays, creating a magical atmosphere. The addition of glow-in-the-dark balls allows players to experience an exhilarating twist on the traditional daytime golfing experience by playing at night. For those seeking warmth, Moguls Alpine Bar will be available, offering a variety of seasonal drinks. Conveniently situated next to Bath's renowned ice rink, Glow Golf provides an opportunity to test your balancing skills while enjoying the surrounding ambiance.
13 November – 7 January 2023
During the winter months, The Alnwick Garden turns into a magical wonderland with the Winter Trail. The trail is usually open from late November to early January, allowing visitors to experience the garden's enchanting atmosphere during the festive season. The Winter Trail offers a delightful walk through the garden, adorned with stunning lighting displays, sparkling decorations, and festive installations. The paths are lined with thousands of twinkling lights, creating a captivating and immersive experience for visitors of all ages. The garden's iconic landmarks, such as the Grand Cascade and Treehouse, are often adorned with lights and decorations, adding to the overall magical ambiance.
25 November – 7 January 2024
One can embark on a journey through shimmering trees, captivating ornaments, and delightful festive embellishments at every corner. In the cosy castle library, Santa awaits, ready to share a heartwarming tale of hope and joy. Bundle up in warm clothing and leisurely explore a captivating Christmas market, indulging in an amazing seasonal meal. Marvel at the radiant trees, wander along a sparkling outdoor light trail, and glide gracefully on the magnificent open-air ice rink surrounded by impressive towers and turrets. With these enchanting experiences and more, this destination guarantees an immersive and magical Christmas atmosphere.
November – December 2023
Christmas at the Botanics has become an essential part of Scotland's seasonal calendar, offering an extraordinary experience for both friends and family. This delightful journey presents a chance to encounter the enchanting presence of Father Christmas, accompanied by captivating attractions. Prepare to be amazed by the spectacle of enormous seed heads soaring gracefully above, a radiant field of oversized crocus flowers illuminating the night, vibrant pampas grasses and dazzling light tunnels. These stunning displays, showcasing a botanical theme bursting with a myriad of colours, are just a taste of the thrilling new experiences awaiting visitors this year.
The Edinburgh International Magic Festival is an annual event that offers an astonishing lineup of shows, events, and workshops designed to bring awe-inspiring wonder and joyful entertainment to the festive season.
November 2023 – January 2024
There will be a magnificent transformation of Edinburgh Castle this holiday season, as Castle of Light returns for its highly anticipated fourth year. Visitors can immerse themselves in the captivating theme of "Magic and Mystery" as a mesmerizing tapestry of new projections elegantly dances across the castle walls. Following the trail of immersive illuminations and enchanting installations through the castle grounds, surrounded by a breathtaking display of shimmering lights and vibrant exhibits.
22 December – 14 January 2024
Glasgow hosts the biggest indoor amusement park in Europe. Whether one is seeking a joyous day with the family or an exciting night out with friends, there's a wide array of entertainment options for everyone to relish. Packed with thrilling rides that get one’s heart racing and opportunities to showcase your skills in games like "Hook a Duck", this venue promises non-stop fun in Glasgow.
The festive silent disco will let visitors unleash their dance moves and sing with unrestrained joy while embarking on a spirited and festive-themed journey through Glasgow. Whether one is singing cherished Christmas classics or energetic festive pop anthems, they will undoubtedly discover themselves dancing, strutting, and singing throughout the city on this exhilarating adventure.
22 November – 31 December 2023
Luminate Wales returns to Margam Country Park and Castle this Winter! One should prepare to be amazed and captivated by the splendid, illuminated trail, skilfully designed to enchant and captivate the senses. As night falls, they can embark on a magical adventure through the awe-inspiring and historically significant gardens of Margam Country Park and Castle. They will find themselves fully immersed in a mesmerizing one-mile walk, adorned with stunning lighting exhibits and interactive elements that are certain to bring delight to both children and adults.
Mid November – early January 2023
The much-anticipated Waterfront Winterland in Swansea makes its return to Museum Park, now featuring an expanded Alpine Village. Visitors can enjoy a wide selection of funfair rides and games, alongside a variety of delicious festive food and beverages, creating an ideal environment for socializing and enjoyment.
1-22 December 2023
Prepare for an extraordinary evening that is unbeatable in its excitement. Guests can anticipate an array of captivating circus acts, delectable street food, and unforgettable live entertainment at the magnificent ICC Wales venue. Upon arrival, a diverse ensemble of vibrant characters, such as towering stilt walkers, glamorous showgirls, and remarkable festival performers, will be welcoming everyone. The night will be filled with exhilarating entertainment, including gravity-defying aerial artists, an abundance of astonishing acrobats, dazzling dancers, and a variety of surprises inspired by the circus theme. These elements are guaranteed to provide an evening of thrills and delights, making it a truly fabulous experience.
For the most up to date guide or details of what’s new in Britain check out the VisitBritain Media Centre
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