UK events in December
South West England
Clearwell Caves’ Christmas Grotto (29 November – 24 December)
If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable Christmas experience, then you won’t find a quirkier attraction than Clearwell Caves. Wrap up warm and visit Father Christmas in his Grotto located underground in the 4,500 year-old mine caves.
From the old mine tracks to the hidden nooks and crannies, it is an adventure just walking through this magical place. There will be stories for the little ones and a small Christmas market and cafe if you’re looking for a refreshing beverage or memento from the evening.
Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland (15 November – 2 January)
Full of atmosphere and tradition, the Christmas Tree Wonderland is an epic trail through historic gardens and seafront walkways draped in lights.
Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland brings light and fun to Bournemouth Gardens from November to early January. Twinkling lights, festive stories and beautiful, towering trees are the perfect backdrop for Christmas shopping. And an open-air ice skating rink adds a little adventure to the mix!
Exciting interactive light pods weave through the historic gardens, with sound and even a time machine to enthral and amuse the whole family. Grab a selfie in the giant bauble, tuck in to mince pies at the Alpine Lodge Bar and visit Santa in his grotto.
London and South East England
Burning the Clocks Winter Solstice Parade in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex (21 December)
People across the city of Brighton & Hove create gorgeous paper and willow lanterns which are then paraded through the city as part of the Burning the Clocks celebrations, and with around 2,000 people taking part in the procession, the atmosphere is magical.
The carnival makes its way to the beachfront where the lanterns are passed onto a blazing bonfire on the beach to welcome in the longer days and then follows a spectacular fireworks display. The festival has been running for over 20 years and is a welcome break from the commercialism of the festive season. The tradition marks the passing of time and welcomes in the new sun, lighting up the longest night.
Winter Wonderland, London (Open until 5 January)
There really is something for every member of your family at Winter Wonderland: from thrill-seeking rides and carnival games, to Christmas markets, food stalls, an ice rink and big top shows.
Grab a hot toddy or a mulled wine if you’re old enough, or some classic hot chocolate if you’re not, and take a trip on the Christmas Ferris wheel to see the twinkling lights from above.
Lastly, browse the Christmas Market’s many stalls for take-home keepsakes and inspiring gift ideas.
Skate at Somerset House, London (13 November – 12 January)
London’s most beautiful ice rink returns, transforming the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court into a winter oasis, and ushering in the festive season with a 40ft Christmas tree.
One of London’s favourite winter traditions, Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason has something for everybody, with skating lessons, late-night DJs series Skate Lates, and their first-ever Skate all-nighter on Saturday 07 December.
Visit Doddington Hall, Lincoln (23 November – 24 December)
Enjoy Doddington Hall’s festive open days and browse Christmas gifts, trees, and food from the farm shop.
Soak up the festive atmosphere of Christmas in a family home, which has seen a lot of Christmas mornings over its 400-year history.
The Hall has been decorated by the estate team themselves, and don’t forget to enjoy farmshop goodies, the Bauble Barn, home-grown Christmas trees, and late night shopping.
North West England
Explore the Lanterns at Chester Zoo, Chester (22 November – 23 December)
This Christmas, something magical is happening at Chester Zoo as their enchanting festive event, The Lanterns, returns for 2019. The zoo will be transformed into a spectacular wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow!
Set off on The Great Christmas Expedition to discover exotic illuminated wildlife and animal characters in nine different fantastical worlds; each one different to the last – from traditional festive scenes to colourful animal-inspired illuminations. This year the updated route will take you on a journey through new worlds that will have your imagination running wild.
You’ll be transported to the bottom of the sea in Underwater where you’ll need to dodge the jellyfish and fish before coming face to face with a HUGE octopus! Then make your way through Tropical Dreams which will be a dramatic centrepiece, complete with new beautiful lanterns. Then suspend belief as you take the Night Sky Adventure and travel through the clouds and stars, under the moonlight.
Take the Santa Express on the La’al Ratty through Eskdale (Various dates throughout December)
Go on a magical journey on board the ‘Santa Express’ to meet Father Christmas. You’ll also get the chance to explore his Dalegarth grotto at the the foothills of England’s highest mountains, the Scafell range.
With 14 miles of steam travel to take you on your journey through the Western Lake District, you’ll get a glimpse of the magical Cumbrian landscape, from the strategic Roman port of Ravenglass through the Eskdale valley.
North East England
Visit the Alnwick Garden, Northumberland
For a Christmas market with a difference, wrap up in your cosiest festive jumper and join in the festive fun at The Alnwick Garden in Northumberland.
Browse stalls overflowing with goodies and gifts from Northumbrian artisans – great for picking up last minute stocking fillers. Indulge in festive nibbles whilst enjoy carolling and live music from talented local performers.
Once it’s dark, step outside and discover the illuminated world of ‘Sparkle’, a magical live music, light and movement spectacular. Join in the Grand Lantern Parade which will tour The Alnwick Garden and finish in front of the Grand Cascade to create a spectacular display of light and sound.
While you’re there, take a tour of the impressive gardens. From the Grand Cascade water fountain to the Ornamental Rose Garden, it is spectacular in any season.
Visit the Dickensian Festival, Grassington, Yorkshire (1 December and 7-8 December)
Get into the Christmas spirit with a trip to Grassington Dickensian Festival with stalls, entertainment, local food and crafts.
For two weekends in the run up to Christmas the lovely cobbled streets of Grassington are transformed to take you back in time. Stall holders and shop keepers dress in Victorian costumes, and musicians, dancers and street entertainers add to the fun. There is an array of stalls selling traditional local country crafts, food and goodies.
Visit the Caerphilly Christmas Market (7-8 December)
Experience the sights, sounds and smells of Caerphilly town and castle and prepare for Christmas with delicious food, the smell of mulled wine, exciting street theatre and over 100 food, craft & gift stalls. Find the perfect gifts at Caerphilly Christmas Market… whether it’s wine, liqueurs, chocolates, jewellery or something a little more unusual. Feel festive as you browse the Christmas decorations and seasonal stalls (while sampling some tasty food and drink of course!)
Take a ride on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways (Various dates throughout December)
Welsh Highland Railway – Santa Trains.
Santa certainly comes to town when he and his elves aboard the festive trains from Caernarfon. These trains are as good as going to the pantomime!
Ffestiniog Railway – Victorian Santa Trains.
A traditional Victorian family Christmas with carol singing on the platform, sherry and mince pies and, of course, Santa will be handing out presents to all the kids.
Visit Edinburgh’s International Magic Festival (27 December – 5 January)
Edinburgh International Magic Festival is a not-for-profit organisation founded and managed by event producer Svetlana McMahon and magician Kevin Quantum. Since conception in 2010, MagicFest has welcomed over 60,000 visitors and has grown to be the Europe’s biggest festival of innovative and cutting-edge magic.
Edinburgh International Magic Festival is annual arts festival that promotes magic as an art form and celebrates the limitless possibilities of human imagination. Every year this week-long festival attracts over 10,000 people at 80 different events across the city from free installations to the world-class Gala shows. The programme is balanced to reflect the best and most exciting magic from around the world alongside the very best in home grown work, aiming to amaze, inspire, provoke and entertain. The Festival is also producing new work which celebrates Edinburgh’s unique historic environment and cultural heritage in innovative and exciting way.
Visit the City of Perth Winter Festival (throughout December)
The City of Perth Winter Festival is a 10 week long celebration opening with the Christmas Lights event in November and running until the Chinese New Year in February as part of the wonderful Perth Light Nights.