Christmas is a great time for a short break, an escape from the hustle and bustle of festive preparations. Head off to a country retreat, a city break or a Christmas market.....and be sure to spend some down time with a good book as these literary characters have a few fine tips of their own for the season of goodwill.
Liverpool with Newt Scamander
(Novel: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling)
Careful if you’re having a holiday here when you open your suitcase, as one of those Fantastic Beasts might pop out!
There’s quite a few places Newt could show you - St George's Hall features in Fantastic Beasts as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One (2010). Also in the city, there could well be creatures lurking in the shadows of the buildings like the Cunard Building.
To blow the Christmas cobwebs away, a walk on Crosby beach should do the trick. There are life size iron figures dotted along the sands, looking out to sea. Probably looking for those fantastic creatures we shouldn’t wonder.
London - Kings Cross
Charles Dickens and many of the great writers have left their literary footprints in the capital over the years. But there are many modern novels to take you around its streets.
Stay at the Savoy: A stay at the Savoy hotel whilst Christmas shopping would be enhanced by meeting Dolly Lane in The Girl from the Savoy. She loves the West End and can often be found wandering around the Embankment garden, dreaming of the stage. There’s a real sense of Christmas here with twinkling lights and trees silhouetted against the moonlit sky. Dolly loves the Weeping Muse statue and pavement artists here.
Live like a Queen: Everyone loves a bit of pampering at Christmas too, so why not follow in the footsteps of Victoria and visit her statue in one of the royal palaces with a wander through the parks as well. A winter walk really warms you up before you head back to the hotel and curl up with a good book of course!
Revisit days gone by: You might want to visit the golden days of the city by reading a book in the British Library crime series. Death in a Museum is set in the British Museum although you might want to avoid sugared almonds after reading this. Why not trya mulled wine at the nearby Winter Wonderland, or a tour of London Chocolate style as in Carole Matthews’ A Chocolate Lovers Christmas
Perfect ending to a lovely literary tour of 5 UK cities at Christmas time
(Novel: Fleshmarket Close, Ian Rankin)
Edinburgh’s a great city any time of year but with a castle covered in winter frost, a Christmas market serving mulled wine and the reindeer in Princes St Gardens, it’s one of the most festive there is!
Even Rebus would raise a smile here. You can imagine him wandering down the Royal Mile quietly observing the festivities which have taken over his city. If it’s too chilly, there’s always the warmth of his favourite Oxford Bar. If he gets tired, Rebus would of course duck into Fleshmarket Close if it all got too much. Cockburn Street sits behind it and is full of cosy restaurants.
If you’re as brave as Rebus, you might consider a game of Hide and Seek with the characters who live in the city’s shadows - find them on a winter night ghost tour...if you dare....
Celebrate in Style with Rebus and watch the New Year’s famous Hogmanay celebrations and see the New Year in with a bang.
(Novel: Silent Voices, Ann Cleeves)
Just a few hours down the road and Vera is waiting to show you the delights of her city. Northumberland this time of year is very magical indeed with its many castles (one of which - Alnwick - appeared in the Harry Potter films)
If like Vera you prefer Silent Voices to Silent Night, you’ll love the part of Northumberland around Bardon Mill and Haydon Bridge where the novel was set. Or what about an ‘Amble’ around the setting of Harbour Street?
Vera however doesn’t have time to waste. There’s Hidden Depths to this part of England so a visit to North Shields for a festive feast of fish and chips should also give you a taste of Vera’s literary landscape.
Head back to the city for a visit to the famous Fenwicks store where Vera goes shopping in Harbour Street. It’s festive window would even raise a smile from Vera herself. Need a break from the hustle and bustle? Head to the Lit and Phil - even Vera describes it as “where book lovers hang out”
Then to walk off those mince pies, a wander along the Quayside over the colourful “Blinking Eye bridge” should do the trick pet.
The Cotswolds with Agatha Raisin
(Novel: Kissing Christmas Goodbye, M.C. Beaton)
This part of the country looks just like a scene from a picture at any time of year but with the snow, it’s practically Narnia. Small country lanes, homely cottages, a village green and a feeling of being in another world. There’s quite a few literary characters to meet here - what about Agatha Raisin? She was Kissing Christmas Goodbye in one novel set in the fictional village of Carsely.
There’s many villages here which could stand in for Agatha’s village however ; Bourton on the Water is particularly nice and and some villages seem as if they were named with crime novels in mind! Lower Slaughter is not at all as its name suggests and instead is a place to rest and relax.
Walking in the Cotswolds with your wellies then finding a nice country pub would be something Agatha would definitely recommend. You might even seen her there.
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