We can all agree that Christmas is THE BEST time of year, right? From binge-watching your favourite festive films to singing along to those nostalgic catchy tunes that never seem to get old (even though they already are...). There’s just something so warming about this time of year - despite the baltic weather in the UK.
And nothing gets you into the Christmas spirit quite like a festive day out! But with all the Christmas markets, and present shopping, it might start to feel a bit…well, you know, like déjà vu?
Fear not! If you’re on the look out to treat yourself to a day filled with festive cheer (woo) and are sick of doing the same things every November/December, we’re here to level up your Christmas days out. We’ve found the best magical places to visit in the UK at Christmastime, and trust us, you won’t want to miss these!
This pretty pad is one of England’s biggest houses and a UNESCO Heritage Site – btw that’s how you know it’s well worth a visit.
During December the Palace is the best place to go if you’re looking for a real good festive day out. Marvel at the magical new Christmas light trail, which brings together a multitude of twinkling lights, seasonal sounds and festive fun - there’s even a sneaky chance you can catch a glimpse of the big man along the way, so make sure you’re on your best behaviour!
Inside the Palace you’ll be exported into The Story of Sleeping Beauty (with a contemporary twist) as the rooms are transformed to retell the classic fairy tale for a new generation. Wander through the Evil Fairy’s spooky lair and into the castle frozen still in time.
If light shows and immersive stories aren’t your thing – don’t worry. From 17th November until 17th December you can stock up on your favourite festive goodies at the Christmas Markets in The Great Court - sounds like a great place to bag yourself some presents, so put down that Lynx set and level up your gifting game!
Probably most know for its appearance in not one, but two Harry Potter films (Chamber of Secrets and Philosopher’s Stone), Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England.
Although closed for the winter months until March 2024, the castle is still an honourable mention in our list of magical places to visit around the UK at Christmas, as those wanting to catch a glimpse can still do so, (phew)!
Adjacent to Alnwick Castle sits Alnwick Gardens which is open all year round to visitors heading to Northumberland and it runs a jam-packed range of festive events over the winter season.
From an award-winning Winter Light Trail to spotting Father Christmas on his sleigh as he parades through Lilidorei – Alnwick Gardens own magical kingdom (and the largest play structure in the world – impressive), there’s plenty of activities going to keep the whole family entertained.
If you’re keen on nabbing yourself some 2024 Alnwick Castle tickets for when it reopens to the public, click here.
Known for being one of the most famous castles only hour outside of London, Windsor is a must visit for all things royal, AND is the perfect spot to get yourself into the Christmas spirit.
Experience a warm wintery welcome at the official residence of His Majesty King Charles III this December, as the castle celebrates it’s 675th anniversary of the Order of the Garter.
Step into 1000 years of royal history, see the exquisitely decorated State Apartments and gaze upon the magnificent 20-foot-high tree in St George’s Hall, dressed in hundreds of sparkling lights and intricate ornaments.
There’s also plenty of Christmas themed activities to get involved in around the castle, from choir services and music delivered by local schools and community choirs (very wholesome), to Victorian Christmas story telling sessions – all included with your ticket into the castle, what a bargain.
Book yourself a festive trip to Windsor Castle here
Treat yourself to a trip to one of the UK’s oldest castles this winter. Not only is it home to the world’s most powerful catapult (wowza), it's also a truly magical destination to visit at Christmas time.
During the colder months Warwick Castle is transformed into a winter wonderland with twinkling trees, dazzling decorations, and festive flourishes at every turn. With daily stories told by Santa in the cosy castle library, Christmas at the Castle is sure to put a smile on the little ones faces.
For the budding ice skaters out there, glide upon the open-air ice rink, underneath the castle’s towers and turrets, all while singing along to your favourite festive tunes. If you're a novice skater, you're welcomed to hold onto the handrail around the outside of the rink, and there are also children's skating aids availables – meaning you won’t have to strain your back holding up your child, result!
As the evening draws in, explore the after dark light trail, with new installations and thousands of shimmering lights, that illuminate the castle grounds.
So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself along to Christmas at the Castle
Could we really write a blog about the most magical places to visit this Christmas and not mention the GOAT that is the Edinburgh Christmas Markets? Of course not!
If you’ve never experienced Edinburgh at Christmas time this is your sign to go. Running for seven magical weeks from Friday 17th November to Saturday 6th January 2024, the historic city centre is transformed into the ultimate festive family destination.
The traditional Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens, showcases some of the very best artisanal festive products and goods from local makers. There’s also a Big Wheel which gives market goers the chance to see the historical Old Town, Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat from above in a weather-proof pod!
Calling all Peter Pan fans (we know you’re out there…), you won’t want to miss this!
From the 11th November – 7th January, (and with a little help from Tinker Bell) Castle Howard will be transformed into a Peter Pan-themed odyssey, featuring Neverland themed decorations, theatrical installations and stunning projections, helping to bring JM Barrie’s much-loved story and characters to life.
Castle visitors are also invited take a look around the on-site Bauble Emporium, yes you heard us right, a whole shop dedicated to novelty baubles – we couldn’t think of anything more festive if we tried!
Once owned by King George III (yes, the King featured in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story), Kew Gardens is home to 50,000 living plants.
Although some may associate this botanical world with the summer months, it’s also a magical place to visit in the winter, with glittering tunnels of light, dancing lakeside reflections and colourful trees. There’s even a fire garden, and plenty of larger-than-life illuminations to explore. Make sure to keep an eye out for Father Christmas who’s known to make the occasional visit on the lead up to the big day.
The gardens have a limited number of spaces per day, so it’s best to book in advance to secure your specific date and time to avoid any disappointment!
A must-see within the UK’s festive calendar, Christmas at Dunham Massey, is a truly magical experience!
Watch as the house and gardens are lit up by masses of twinkling lights and giant glowing deer. Discover colour-changing batons of light that stretch out into the distance, and gaze upon a huge silver star called Nova, and walk through star-shaped arches.
There’s also new light and sound installations for 2023, so don’t miss out! Book yourself a night under the stars.
So, that wraps up our Magical Places to Visit in the UK at Christmas blog! If you’re still wanting a festive fix, check out our Not-So-Basic Christmas To-Do List.
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