You might be longing for the summer to hurry back, but don’t overlook the spectacle of winter! Toasty marshmallow hot chocolates, warming mulled wine, rich stews and dumplings, these things need a refreshing nip of frost in the air to feel truly magical.
With so many winter events and Christmas markets popping up across the UK, you can have a memorable winter staycation right here at home! Join us as we explore the best of the best!
Winter wonderland #1 – Edinburgh
17th November – 5th January
According to a public vote, Edinburgh’s Christmas Market was the best in the UK last year! Even the most hardened of Scrooges can’t help but warm up to the multitude of food and drinks stalls. Plus, the beautiful range of local and homemade gifts are sure to light up anyone’s Christmas Day.
You’ll find so much to do here, and it’s not just at the market stalls. You certainly won’t get bored as Edinburgh sets out an exciting array of rides, such as the Forth 1 Big Wheel and the Star Flyer! And, of course, Santa will be visiting the market when Santa’s Grotto opens from 10:30am on 17th November.
Edinburgh Zoo’s Giant Lanterns
16th November – 17th February
Expecting everyone to be sound asleep at Edinburgh Zoo this winter? You might be surprised to see a few new ‘animals’ staying at the zoo, with unicorns and the centaur-like Nuckelavee taking up residence! Alongside many other myths and legends, they’ll light your way along the route as you explore the Giant Lanterns of China! There’re over 450 handmade Chinese lanterns glowing through the route. Plus, you can stay warm and toasty as you go through, with a marketplace on offer serving hot drinks and snacks.
Where to stay
Cairn Hotel Edinburgh
There’s a great hotel conveniently near Edinburgh Waverly Station called the Cairn Hotel. It’s just a ten minute walk from the hotel to Princes Street Gardens, where the Christmas Markets are held, and less than a 20 minute drive to Edinburgh Zoo. With free Wi-Fi in all rooms, you’ll be able to upload all your photos of the gorgeous Giant Lanterns and the festive Christmas Markets.
Standard rooms come complete with the following:
- En-suite bathroom
- Tea and coffee making facilities
- Complimentary snacks and bottled water
Price: Small double room from £243.00* based on 2 adults for 2 nights.
Winter wonderland #2 —Belfast
Game of Thrones Tours
White-walkers won’t be a worry in winter here in Belfast. Whether you’re an avid fan of the world-engrossing Game of Thrones series, or you just want to see some the most spectacular and beautiful sights Belfast has to offer, you can’t miss the Game of Thrones Tours.
Belfast operates two tour routes:
- Belfast Iron Islands, Giant’s Causeway, and Rope Bridge Adventure — this route will see you cover everything in its title, as well as settings used for Arya in Braavos and the Red Lady’s Cave. Plus, you’ll get to explore the natural formation of The Dark Hedges. These beech trees were planted in the 18th century, and form a beautifully haunting tunnel. It is even said that the famous Grey Lady wanders through the road…
- Belfast Winterfell Locations Trek — If you’re a loyal follower of the King in the North, then this route is for you. You’ll see sets and settings for scenes from Robb’s Camp to the fateful spot where the Starks found their Direwolf Pups.
17th November – 22nd December
With Belfast City Hall overlooking it, the city’s Christmas market is a wonderful offering this winter. The outdoor food court means you can sit down for a while and relish in some of the best foods of the continent, from speciality cheeses to a hog roast! Plus, Santa’s got a busy schedule this year, as he’ll be hosting a Santa’s Grotto in Belfast as well as Edinburgh.
Where to stay
Jury’s Inn, Great Victoria Street
You’ll be warm and entertained at Jury’s Inn, thanks to free Wi-Fi and Freeview services available. Plus, if you’re heading out for the Game of Thrones Tours, the coach arrives outside this hotel at 8:15am. The Christmas markets are just a five minute walk away too, so you’re in the best position for seeing all the sights!
Take a look at the upgrade option from Jury’s Inn, the Superior Package:
- 10% lunch and dinner discount
- Air conditioning
- Complimentary mineral water and biscuits
- Daily complimentary Costa coffee per guest
Price: Double Room with Superior Package from £283.50* for 2 adults for 2 nights.
Winter wonderland #3 – outside the city
Christmas can certainly be quite overwhelming for people. If your idea of a Christmas staycation is to stay away from the loud noises and crowds of people, why not seek refuge in one of the many amazing forests in the UK?
Book a quiet, cosy cabin in the woods and get away from all the noise and ruckus. Stroll through the winter morning in a lush forest, and unwind with a Christmas dinner without sweating in the kitchen. Forest Holidays even offers a real Christmas tree with lights in your cabin if you stay over the Christmas period, between 21st-31st December, complete with a decoration crafting kit. Plus, you’ll find all the entertainment of the busy city within the quiet getaway of the forest, with a visit from Santa and carollers.
Maybe keep the summer swimwear out for the winter months too — you’ll need it for the hot tub…
Prices: For Thorpe Forest, prices for 2 adults sharing 1 bedroom at Golden Oak Hideaway for 3 nights start at £695.00*. Please note there are a number of locations available up and down the UK.
With any winter destination you choose you will need a reliable method of transport to get you there! Lookers offer car service plans which are a necessity when travelling long-distances.
*Prices correct as of 12th November 2018