Use it or lose it: 10 last-minute ways to use up your annual leave

by Melissa Brobby

Category: Things to do
December 14 2016

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

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)

Discover more things to do in Brighton this winter

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)

See what else is happening in Northumberland

3) Roll up for the Christmas Spiegeltent in Bristol

Christmas Spiegeltent

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.

Find festive events in Bristol

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)

Discover more winter wildlife in Norfolk 

5) Escape working life at the Scillonian Christmas Festival

Isles of Scilly

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)

Plan your visit to the Isles of Scilly

6) Bag unique items at The Craft Centre in Leeds

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. 

Why not explore Leeds’ craft beer scene afterwards?

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)

Discover other things to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon

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)

Find other fun things to do in London

9) Have a quirky afternoon tea in Manchester

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)

Or why not uncover Manchester’s coolest cafes and art galleries?

10) Experience the weird and wonderful in York

Fairfax House in York

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)

Find out more about York’s decadent past

Melissa Brobby

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