As the year comes to an end, many people will be trying to use up all their annual leave. In a bid to make those days count, Danielle Jones has scoured the country to find ten brilliant ways to spend those precious paid days off.
1) Spark up for Burning of the Clocks in Brighton
Brighton always finds a way to mix it up with its leftfield celebration of the Winter Solstice. As well as the burning of effigies and willow and paper lanterns on the beach, there’s also a fantastic firework display and live music at this free event. (21 December)
2) Be dazzled by a Grand Lantern Parade in Northumberland
Sprinkle a bit of magic on a break in Northumberland with this light-up extravaganza in the Northumbrian countryside. As the darkness sets in, the procession lights up through the streets of Alnwick, eventually heading towards the fairytale setting of Alnwick Gardens. Entrance to the gardens is £7.70 for adults (18 December)
3) Roll up for the Christmas Spiegeltent in Bristol
This month the famous wooden Spiegeltent takes up residency in Bristol Harbourside. With spectacular shows on throughout the month, ranging from Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley to a Masquerade Ball, it’s worth taking the next day off to recover from a night of sampling craft beer and carnival-esque merriment. Each event is individually ticketed.
4) Swap your phone for a pair of binoculars in Norfolk
Step out of your meetings for a spot of simple bird watching in Norfolk at Beginners’ Birding in Titchwell. When you need a break from the chatter of the workplace, it’s a great way to explore England’s wildlife in the peaceful countryside. Tickets are £6 for adults. (20 December)
5) Escape working life at the Scillonian Christmas Festival
If you’re bored of the rat race and really want to makes the most of your annual leave, then put on your out of office and head to Isles of Scilly for a chilled out festive break. Join the annual Scillonian street party and Christmas Festival and let the stress of 2016 fade away. (23 December)
If you want to spend a day in retail paradise, but with none of the hustle and bustle of the high street, then a trip to Leeds Craft Centre will give you that fix. With the work of at least 300 designers on display at any one time you’re bound to find a hidden trinket on your day off. Entrance is free of charge.
7) Be inspired at Garden of Curious A-MUSE-ments in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Take days off to expand your knowledge of one of England’s most famous residents, by hunting around Shakespeare’s home to find his muses. As well as finding out more about the Bard and his life, you can take the kids and make it a truly family day out. Tickets are £8 adult, £5 child (15-17 December)
8) Regress to childhood at Ballie Ballerson in London
Throw off the shackles of the workplace and go full kid mode for the day at the now famous Ballie Ballerson. This massive adult ball pit in trendy East London gives you the chance to relive your childhood days with silly fun, grown up cocktails and banging tunes. A two-hour session starts at £15 (Ongoing)
If you love the idea of afternoon tea, but dinky sandwiches and cakes leaves you a little bit cold then check out the most macho tea in all of Blighty. Gentleman Jack’s Afternoon Tea is filled with homemade Scotch Eggs, mini beef burgers, all washed down with a nice cup of tea…or bourbon. Standard gentleman’s tea starts at £25 (Ongoing)
Cast off the straight-laced world of today and step back in time to the raucous (and sometimes raunchy) world of the Georgian era, filled with powdered wigs, drinking and gambling. The Weird and Wonderful exhibition at Fairfax House will amaze, astound and maybe even make you blush. Oooh errr! Entrance is £6 for adults (until 31 December)