Whether you love to leave all of your festive preparation to the last minute or start humming ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ as soon as you catch a whiff of cinnamon on a cold day, it’s impossible not to start embracing the spirit of the season during the winter months.
Going on a festive day out with friends or family is a wonderful way to start making magical memories, but it can be an expensive one too. Preparing for the 25th puts a big strain on your wallet, so we’ve rounded up some of the best free wintery events to enjoy across the UK, so you can save your cash for the big day.
Winter at the Southbank centre, 8 December – 6 January, London
Once again, London’s biggest arts centre will be hosting its annual Winter festival along the Thames, featuring a Nordic inspired Winter Wonderland to make sure everyone feels hygge and cosy when it’s cold outside. There’s traditional German food, hot chocolate and spiced cider for the grownups, and you can even get ahead on your Christmas shopping and look at a wide variety of handmade and personalised gifts. There will be entertainment on offer too – try to catch one of the live carol concerts or check out one of the family shows.
Yorkshire Winter Wonderland, 17 November – 6 January, York Designer Outlet
This fun day out might even save you money. With discounted designer names from Mulberry to Michael Kors, York Designer Outlet is a perfect place to make savings on some seriously impressive gifts, and you can check your list twice in an impressive alpine setting. The Winter Wonderland boasts the largest outdoor ice rink in the North of England, as well as a vintage style funfair. An adult skating ticket costs £10.95, but family packages are available – and after all that shopping, you might just want to sit back, relax and watch the skaters glide (or wobble) past.
Llandudno Christmas fair, 15-18 November, Mostyn Street, Llandudno
Start the festivities at a street market with a difference. The Victorian resort of Llandudno hosts a seasonal fair in one of the most beautiful locations in the UK, right beside the seaside. The theme is Dickensian, so it’s the perfect place to take any budding history buffs who might be learning about the period. There’s local produce to try, and plenty of free samples, as well as live entertainment, craft demonstrations and a chance to visit Santa in his Grotto.
Chester Christmas market and Christmas events, 16 November -22 December, throughout Chester
If there was a competition to find the most Christmassy city in the UK, Chester might just have the edge. The market itself features over 70 traditional wooden chalets, offering traditional handmade gifts, mince pies and gluhwein to wet your appetite. Then, head to the cathedral for the annual Festival of Trees. This illuminated display has been getting bigger and better every year, and it’s sure to make even the Grinchiest and grumpiest feel full of festive spirit. If the budget allows, you could invest in some tickets for the traditional cathedral showing of The Snowman, backed by a live orchestra.
Edinburgh’s Christmas 2018, throughout Edinburgh, 16 November – 5 January
The free Christmas market has everything you might expect, as well as the warm, woollen gear that the city is famous for – it’s a great place for hat shopping. Come early and catch Light Night on 18 November, when DJ Arlene Stuart will host and choirs from across Scotland will perform to mark the big switch on. Don’t miss the giant advent calendar projected onto the side of General Register House either!
Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland, 15 November – 6 January 2018, City Hall Lawns, Cardiff
You might want to wear something sparkly if you’re paying a visit to this Winter Wonderland – some of the best dressed people in Cardiff put on their most festive gear to go and explore the stalls and attractions. There’s an extra charge for the ice rink, but you do get a discount if you’ve got your own skates. Also, they schedule accessible sessions so that everyone who wants to can have a go at dancing on ice. Check out the website for more information.
Nottingham Winter Wonderland, 17 November – 24 December, Nottingham Market Square
If you’re struggling to find a place to entertain teens, tweens and in-betweens, this ticks all the festive boxes. The Urban Après Ski theme will appeal to any image conscious Made in Chelsea fans, and there are children’s fairground rides for your littlest ones, as well as some exciting special guests. Best of all, the square is right in the middle of one of Nottingham’s buzziest shopping areas, so you can stock up on arty, crafty gifts as well as hitting some of the biggest high street names.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland , 22 November – 6 January, Hyde Park, London
We saved the best until last. It might be the UK’s most famous Winter Wonderland attraction, but it is free to enter, with a wide variety of pay as you go attractions inside. If seeing Father Christmas is your December highlight, a trip to Santa Land is a must. It’s a Winter Wonderland within a Winter Wonderland! The young and the young at heart will love the wide selection of rides and rollercoasters, or you can just enjoy a hot chocolate and soak up the festive ambiance. (Try not to combine the hot chocolate and the rollercoaster though, they don’t really mix.)
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