The smell of snow is in the air, the faint sound of jingling bells drifts on the breeze and everywhere you look, there are twinkly lights and brightly coloured decorations. That’s right, it’s Christmas time once again. And there’s no better place to spend the holidays than in the UK. The country is at its best at this time of year, as traditions such as carol singing and midnight mass make themselves known, and we here at Plum Guide are ideally placed to help you find the perfect place to celebrate the season. We are the travel experts after all. Here’s our pick of where to spend the most festive Christmas holidays in the UK.
Christmas lights in the streets of London
The capital of England really comes into its own at this time of year, making it one of our favourite cities for Christmas holidays in the UK. The air is crisp and cold, the streets are strung with glowing lights and the shoppers are out, ticking off presents from their list the further they walk down Oxford Street. Whether your idea of a perfect Christmas involves long walks on Hampstead Heath, catching a classic pantomime at the Hackney Empire (if you’ve never experienced a British panto before, prepare to be yelling ‘he’s behind you’ and making your family members jump well past New Year’s Eve) or gleefully filling your basket at classic department stores such as Selfridges and Liberty’s, London is ready to greet you with open arms this Christmas.
The seaside at Christmas? Now you’re talking. Yes, you might not be able to don your swimming trunks and enjoy a cooling dip (unless you’re one of the brave few who participate in the Suffolk Christmas day morning swim tradition, in which case we recommend packing a hot water bottle) but the beaches are gloriously empty and windswept, the pubs are cosy and warm, and the sky is clear and bright. There’s plenty to do around here, from long walks along the coastline to queueing for the famous fish and chips in the town of Aldeburgh to learning about the history of composer Benjamin Britten, who hailed from these parts. You’ll have a very merry Christmas holiday in the UK indeed if you stay here.
Snowdonia, Wales, UK
A Christmas holiday in the UK simply isn’t complete without a visit to a national park. The rolling green hills of Wales are truly breathtaking, and Snowdonia is one of the best places to enjoy them. This park is in the northern part of Wales and is named for Mount Snowdon, one of the highest mountains in the UK. Reaching the summit is one of the most popular activities in Wales, so pull on your waterproof jacket (the country is famous for its frequent rain) and put your best foot forward. As well as rain and gorgeous countryside, Christmas in Wales will look like a roaring fire, cosy evenings spent tucked up reading a book and spending your days visiting the traditional market towns. Don’t forget to try welsh cakes while you’re there - you’ll leave addicted to the small, griddle-cooked cakes studded with dried fruit.
You can’t get more quintessentially English than the Cotswolds. If you were raised on a diet of British books and movies (and who wasn’t?) this is where you’ll find the countryside Christmas of your dreams. It’s the largest of the 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England and Wales, so you know it has impressive credentials. 800 square miles of land spread across five different counties, the Cotswolds is a seemingly endless series of charming villages built from golden stone, fields upon fields of green - known as ‘wolds’, hence the name - and pubs with invitingly warm hearths. Its beauty has made it popular, and many British celebs and politicians can be found around here. It’s also rich in culture, with plenty of galleries and festivals to attend. We recommend a healthy mix of long walks in the chilly air, long Bloody Mary pub brunches and watching films in front of the fireplace.
A Stall at Edinburgh's Christmas Market
Got fantasies of spending your Christmas holidays in the UK at Hogwarts? We’ve all been there. Edinburgh is about as close as you’ll get, but it’s no second prize. The Scottish capital comes to life in wintertime, and you’ll soon be entertaining dreams of moving here permanently (just don’t tell the office quite yet). Narrow cobblestoned streets lined with adorable shops, cafes and restaurants make entertaining the family a snap. On the eve of the big day, stock up on famous Scottish shortbread to stuff into everyone’s stockings – if you can resist eating all the buttery biscuits yourself while you wrap presents, that is. On Christmas day itself, we recommend climbing Arthur’s Seat, an ancient extinct volcano which enjoys the best view of the city.