Traveling in December to Britain is magical. With twinkling lights, mulled wine and holiday cheer in the air everywhere you go, the very best of Britain’s Christmas markets and holiday celebrations are back this year– bigger and better than ever before.
Where can you go to find that holiday feeling this year?
We’ve put together some of Britain’s most atmospheric holiday experiences to get you in the spirit…
Christmas at Kew Gardens
What: The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is transformed into an illuminated magical, mythical place with more than a million twinkling lights, during Christmas at Kew. The festive-inspired trail takes you along the Treetop Walkway to see enchanting sights, from enchanting optics to the flickering Fire Garden. (Father Christmas and his elves make a guest appearance occasionally, as well!)
Where: Kew Gardens is located in Richmond, London – approximately one hour by tube from Central London
When: 20 November - 5 January
Iconic Lights & Sights in Central London
What: Revel in the full beauty of London’s Christmas lights snuggled up on an open bus sightseeing tour – at night, for the full effect. Take in all the iconic sights including the Tower of London, Harrods and Piccadilly, all dressed up in their Christmas best. Or, admire light displays by foot and head to Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street for dazzling illuminations.
Where: all across London
When: November-January (varies)
See Claridge’s Designer Christmas Tree
What: Claridge’s much anticipated annual Christmas Tree is designed by a different icon each year. Fashion star Diane von Furstenberg created “The Tree of Love” for 2018 featuring 8,000 iridescent hand-painted silver-leafed leaves. Karl Lagerfeld and Dolce & Gabbana are among the other famous names to have provided some artistic flair since Claridge’s introduced the Christmas Tree in 2009.
Where: Claridge’s is located in London – a short walk from the Bond Street Underground station
When: From late November
Christmas Lights Tour of London
What: Tour the dazzling Christmas Lights of London. Be transported through London with friends and family during the 'Most Wonderful time of year', and see how the city comes alive with festive cheer!
Where: Departing from Leicester Square, the tour takes you past the iconic Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Regent Street and many more of London's famous streets.
When: Tours run from mid-November to late December.
Glow Wild in West Sussex
What: The Glow Wild winter lantern festival is a spellbinding trail that takes place at Wakehurst, a beautiful botanic garden and country estate in southern England. The event brings trees, ponds and forest floors to life with hundreds of glowing lanterns, torches of fire and magical soundscapes.
Where: Wakehurst Estate is located in West Sussex – approximately one hour 15minutes from London by rail.
When: Thursday to Sunday, 21 November - 22 December, 4.30pm-8pm.
Epic Illumination in Oxfordshire
What: Oxfordshire has so much rich history and culture to offer, and will be bustling with all things Christmas this winter. At Blenheim Palace (the birthplace of Winston Churchill), the Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail will be brighter than ever before with lasers, projections, and thousands of pea-lights. From the delicate and twinkling to the grand and spectacular, the Formal Gardens will light up once again for a festive journey of exploration and wonder. The surrounds of the Palace will be transformed into a magical wonderland for Alice in the Palace, a festive indoor trail designed to leave you with a grin like a Cheshire Cat.
Where: Blenheim Palace is located in Oxfordshire – approximately one hour 30 minutes from London by rail.
When: 22 November - 5 January
Enjoy a German Christmas Market in England’s Heartland
What: Not only is Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market the UK’s largest outdoor market, but it also claims the title as the biggest authentic German Christmas Market outside of Germany and Austria! The festival takes over the city’s Victoria Square, offering up tasty German treats like schnitzels, bratwursts, and gluhwein and a variety of stalls selling traditional Christmas gifts. There’s also live music at the bandstand to get you in to the swing of the season’s festivities.
Where: Victoria Square is located in Birmingham – approximately one hour 20minutes from London by rail.
When: 7 November - 23 December (daily), 10am-9pm
Christmas Market Magic in Edinburgh
What: Tumble into a magical winter wonderland in the centre of a fairytale city. Edinburgh's Winter Festivals bring Edinburgh's Christmas and Edinburgh's Hogmanay together in a magical explosion of twinkling lights, enchanting sounds, mouth-watering flavours and lots of fun and laughter. At Edinburgh’s traditional Highland Christmas, you’ll find everything from Scottish produce and mulled wine to handcrafted Christmas gifts and goods.
Where: all across Edinburgh – approximately three hours 30minutes from Manchester and four hours 15 minutes from London by rail.
When: 16 November - 4 January
Be Joyful & Jolly in Glasgow
What: Glasgow is a lively, bustling city that’s full of character, striking architecture and fascinating museums (many of which are free!). Join the city as it celebrates the holiday season with Glasgow Loves Christmas, a series of events in the heart in the city that includes Christmas markets and festive entertainment ranging from films and live music to roller discos and cabaret!
Where: all across Glasgow – approximately 45 minutes from Edinburgh and three hours 10 minutes from Manchester by rail.
When: November 25th-December 23rd
A Winter Walk in Southwest Wales
What: With 870 miles of coastline and three National Parks, Wales might be even more spectacular when dusted with snow, making it the ideal destination for wintery fun. Revive your senses with a brief and beautiful mile-long lakeside walk, then get into the Christmas spirit back at Tredegar House as it’s dressed up in traditional decorations and filled with music and merriment all throughout for a truly festive experience.
Where: Tredegar House is located in Newport – approximately one hour from Cardiff
When: Selected dates from late November.