Christmas events guide

by Katie Rowe

Category: Things to do
November 20 2015

As Andy Williams once sang, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and what better way to get into the festive spirit than with a visit to these quirky and unique events to satisfy all tastes, including Elizabethan banquets and even an underwater Christmas tree!

Words: Melissa Brobby

Olde-worlde events...

Pull on your top hat for a victorian knees-up in Portsmouth

Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre, Shropshire, Central England

Soak up the festive atmosphere in the medieval surroundings of Ludlow Castle; grab a cup of mulled wine or spiced cider to sip on as you watch knights in combat, browse through over 100 stalls selling historical goods and unique gifts and unleash your inner Robin Hood as you test your archery skills in the Have-A-Go-Archery area. (28 – 29 November)

Victorian Festival of Christmas, Portsmouth, South East England

Be transported back in time as you wander along Portsmouth’s snow-covered Dickensian streets with the stunning dockyard as your backdrop. Explore the Magical Christmas Maze hunting for hidden treats, pass Victorian characters as explore a wide range of unique stalls and stop for a pint in Fagin’s Real Ale Tavern. (27 – 29 November)

An Elizabethan banquet, Durham, North East England

Sit down to a traditional Tudor feast in the Great Baronial Hall at the 600-year-old Lumley Castle, where you’ll be served an Elizabethan banquet boasting five wine-doused courses. Tuck into Succulent Spare Ribs, Plump Chicken Breast in Mead and Dark Chocolateand Cherry Mousse while Tudor entertainers play out a unique pantomime performance as you dine. (5 – 23 December)

Discover more time-travelling holiday ideas >>

Family fun...

Jump aboard the Santa Special in the Isle of Wight

Grimms Faery Feast, Manchester, North West England

Enjoy a delectable combination of delicious food and delightful tales at The Met this Christmas, as the Brothers Grimm regale the audience with stories and music to entertain and amaze all ages, and scrumptious treats created by award winning Chef Simon Taylor will be served up for all to sample throughout the show. (17 – 24 December)

Santa Specials, Isle of Wight, South East England

Get into the festive spirit on a visit to Havenstreet Station, where a band will entertain you with festive favourites as you browse the stalls at the Christmas market in  Santa’s Winter Wonderland. Excitement levels will be off the scale as they meet the man himself and receive a special gift, while adults will be treated to a festive tipple and mince pie. Afterwards, hop on board a steam train and relax as you enjoy a 10 mile round-trip through scenic countryside. (5– 24 December)

Merry Fishmas at Sealife Birmingham, Central England

Pay a visit to the residents of Sealife Birmingham, and wish them a Merry Fishmas as you gaze upon Black Tip Reef Sharks, Gentoo Penguins and many other sea creatures. Santa will also be making a visit and will be handing out gifts and don’t miss the tinsel-tastic underwater Christmas tree in the 360˚ Ocean Tunnel. (12 – 23 December)

Find more things to do in winter with the kids >>

Festive grandeur...

Christmas decorations add even more grandeur to Castle Howard's turquoise drawing room Admire Castle Howard's lavish Christmas decorations

Christmas at Howard Castle, Yorkshire, North East England

Castle Howard  will be adorned with traditional Christmas decorations, wreaths, candles and thousands of baubles. Let the little ones loose as they hunt for mice amongst the glittering baubles along the festive trail; enjoy watching live music performed under the tree by the roaring fire and head outside to the Stable Courtyard and browse the market for some Christmas gifts. (21 November – 23 December)

Christmas at Burghley House, Lincolnshire, Central England

Begin your festive celebrations with a visit to this beautiful Tudor mansion, where you can sing along to your favourite carols in the Great Hall on 16 December, browse the stands selling dazzling accessories and luxurious skincare at its Christmas Fair from 26 to 29 November, and enjoy a delicious Christmas Lunch and Afternoon Tea at The Orangery Restaurant.

Christmas at Holkham Hall, Norfolk, East of England

Walk through the doors of Holkham Hall for a month of festive celebrations for all ages. Enjoy an evening of music with Diva Opera’s ‘The Night Before Christmas’, take your seat in the magical setting of Marble Hall for a performance of A Christmas Carol and enjoy an audience with Father Christmas where the children will receive a special gift. (Various dates in December)

Add these castles and historic houses to your bucket list as well >>

Festive fare...

Get your mitts on gourmet Cornish treats in Padstow

Padstow Christmas Festival, Cornwall, South West England

See a Cornish fishing town in all its festive and foodie finery as the Padstow Christmas Festival unfolds over three days. Along with an array of seasonal treats including a Santa run and a sparking fireworks display over the harbour, there’ll also be plenty of culinary events to savour. Pick up tips on cooking up the perfect Christmas lunch from Michelin starred chefs such as Mark Hix and Rick Stein, and make your way around the 100 market stalls selling tasty goods for the Christmas table. (3 – 6 December)

Festive Afternoon Tea at The Gilbert Scott, London

Celebrate the arrival of the Christmas season in quintessentially English style: with a festive afternoon tea within the elegant surroundings of this iconic brasserie and bar.  Enjoy tucking into roast turkey and cranberry sandwiches, pigs in blankets and mince pies with brandy butter, all washed down with a mulled wine Bellini. (5 – 27 December)

Christmas at Northcote, Lancashire, North West England

Nothing says Christmas like a huge indulgent meal, and at Michelin starred Northcote, you can enjoy tucking into some Christmas favourites.  Book yourself a place at the Chef’s Table, where you’ll be in the perfect position to witness the drama, skills and vibrancy of the kitchen, as the chefs prepare a menu of Traditional Roast Goosnargh Corn Fed Turkey, Pigs in Blankets and Christmas pudding with Rum and Cinnamon Butter. (30 November – 23 December)

Find more foodie breaks to tuck into this winter >>

Nights out...

See the Bootleg Beatles blasting out Fab Four hits © Rachel Docherty

Bootleg Beatles, Liverpool, North West England

Beatles fans will be transported back to the sixties with this two-hour stage production by the world's longest running and most popular Beatles tribute band at this annual fab four celebration.  Watch film footage tracing the history of the Fab Four from Liverpool's Cavern Club through to their rooftop concert whilst you sing along to all the hits. (6 December)

Christmas Burlesque, Bath, South West England

Put on your glad rags and head to the Komedia Bath, where the Ministry of Burlesque’s Twisted Cabaret will give Christmas a markedly different flavour. All the joys of cabaret are on offer, from sultry sirens and edgy comedy, to music and a healthy dose of double entendre. It’s an excellent alternative Christmas night out, with the option of a three-course Christmas meal also available. (16 December)

Jack the Ripper Panto, Norwich, East of England

Enjoy a raucous night out at this adult-only panto based on the notorious 19th Century killer, Jack The Ripper.  Filled with singalongs and laughs a plenty, this love story filled with drugs, murders and prostitutes has become a seasonal favourite for fans of dark humour. (10 – 12 December)

Embrace culture and cold temperatures on a winter holiday in the city >>


What's your favourite Christmas event? Let us know below...

Katie Rowe

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