England Events Travel

Magical Ways to Get Into the Festive Spirit This Christmas

Christmas spirit not hit you yet? Me neither. Thank goodness for VisitEngland – they’ve got some great ideas this festive season.

Follow jewel-coloured trails through Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens, meet Santa on board a train in the North York Moors, buy local at Bath’s vast Christmas market and dine in style at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Christmas Banquet. From enchanting illuminations to merry markets via family festivities and all-important adult-only advent-ures, there’s something to entertain everyone across England this holiday season.

Enchanting illuminations

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf at Longleat's Festival of Light 2017

Longleat’s Christmas Festival of Light, Wiltshire

Selected dates from 5 November – 2 January 2018
The theme for Longleat’s 2017 Christmas Festival of Light is the magic of storytelling and visitors will see the iconic Wiltshire estate transported to a whimsical fairy tale land of imagination through a series of giant, awe-inspiring illuminated lantern displays. Walk among dazzling scenes of tales including Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Christmas Trail, Birmingham

29 November – 1 January 2018
A spectacular new Christmas trail at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is set to transform it into a magical illuminated wonderland. The jewel-coloured trail will lead visitors through the Gardens, highlighting its rich Victorian history and heritage trees, and telling stories through installations. Journey through The Twelve Days of Christmas, a tunnel of lights, a mistletoe moment, a scented fire garden and the incredible Singing Tree! Using the latest technology this single coppice will appear to magically belt out a tune as visitors wander past.

Hull lights up in December, Hull

1 December – 7 January 2018
Hull is set to shine as 2017 comes to a dazzling finale in the UK City of Culture – helped along by guiding lights from interactive robots and stunning projections played out on one of the city’s best-known landmarks. World-renowned, award-winning art collective Jason Bruges Studio will create ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ – the UK City of Culture’s last major commission for 2017. Meanwhile in Hull’s Marina area, Marshmallow Laser Feast will stage A Colossal Wave (1-10 December), a virtual reality installation, while over the second weekend of December, ‘Look Up: The Deep’ (8-10 December) will shine a fresh light on one of Hull’s most iconic buildings, The Deep aquarium.

Family festivities


A Magical Wedgwood Christmas at World of Wedgwood, Stoke-on-Trent

11 November – 7 January 2018
Wedgwood’s 2017 Christmas Story ‘A Magical Wedgwood Christmas‘ will be showcased at World of Wedgwood for children and adults alike to enjoy. Set in 1911 the story takes place at Wedgwood’s Etruria Factory, taking Daisy Makeig-Jones on a creative adventure inspired by her famed ‘Fairyland Lustre’ collection. The Wedgwood Flagship store will be transformed with a series of enchanting displays depicting Daisy’s adventures through fairyland with gift ideas and inspiration and World of Wedgwood will have a full calendar of events from children’s pottery painting and museum trails to ‘How to’ demonstrations and Afternoon Tea.

Enjoy your’elf at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Yorkshire

Selected dates from 2 December
Families’ ho-ho-hoping for a memorable Christmas should look no further than the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s annual Santa Special Services. Departing from both Pickering and Grosmont stations, this event gives children the chance to meet Santa in his festive grotto on board the train! With it being the time for giving, children will receive some treats from the railway, including a Christmas Activity Bag and a gift from Santa, with adults enjoying a delicious mince pie, a hot drink and an alcoholic tipple. Passengers experiencing the magical adventure aboard the Santa Express, departing from Pickering, will also have the chance to take selfies with Santa’s ‘real life’ reindeer.

Step into the fairy tale, Hinton Ampner, Hampshire

2 – 24 December
With spinning wheels whirring, glass slippers lost and gingerbread crumbs left behind, step into the magical world of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales at historic house Hinton Ampner. Its ground floor will be transformed to tell classic fairy tales, such as Rapunzel, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel, linking to the tradition started by former owner Ralph Dutton when village children enjoyed Christmas shows and tea at Hinton. Alongside the sparkle will be Hinton’s famous floral displays. Outdoors, there’s a family trail featuring 25 fairy tale secrets hidden behind Advent Calendar boxes.

Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire

9-10 and 16-17 December
Mr Morton’s Christmas Celebrations will see the magnificent Iron Rolling Mill transformed into a place for a ‘workers’ Christmas party’. Enjoy festive food and seasonal entertainment, including Christmas songs and Punch and Judy, and enjoy a good old sing-a-long with the carol singers. The town will be festooned with traditional Christmas decorations as the townsfolk prepare seasonal goodies and make traditional Victorian presents.

Advent-ures for adults

Spiegeltent Outside_CREDIT_Spiegeltent Bristol

Christmas at the Spiegeltent, Bristol

24 November – 23 December
The vintage Spiegeltent returns to Bristol’s Waterfront Square on the Harbourside with fine food, live entertainment, music, dancing, cabaret, comedy and much, much more. There are a number of family-friendly events (including Baby Disko on 2 and 16 December), but certain nights at this stylish speakeasy are strictly for over-18s. Snap up tickets to White Mink – a glamorous night of live jive and jazz (25 November) – and get your costume ready for the decadent Masquerade Ball on 16 December.

Christmas Banquet at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton

22 December
There’s no better time than Christmas to get dolled up and dine in style: Brighton’s Royal Pavilion invites you to celebrate Christmas in regal splendour. Step into the past and enjoy a drinks and canapé reception followed by a three course dinner with wine and coffee in the palace’s magnificent Banqueting Room. Private tables of 10 are available; smaller groups will be asked to share a table. Dress code: Black tie or optional period dress (Georgian/Regency).

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