We may have just entered autumn, but when the temperature starts to drop we know Christmas is not far behind. Counting down the days to the yuletide season? Louie Kenyon Crockett has rounded up the best Christmas 2016 events for you to start planning a visit to.
A carol concert led by Ian Tracey, Christmas on Hope Street is a yuletide specialty. Set in the beautiful Grade II listed Philharmonic Hall, you can enjoy singing to all the traditional carols and live music that embodies the feeling of Christmas. Classic FM’s John Suchet will be hosting, providing seasonal readings, whilst guest star Ksenija Sidorova will blow you away with a festive accordion performance. To really make the evening special, you can even have dinner in the exquisite Grand Foyer. (17 - 23 December).
Wander through Christmases across the ages with this exhibition of 400 years of Christmas traditions in England’s homes. See middle-class living rooms as they would have been decorated across the ages, a history of Christmas all packed into one place, and even visit the restored Almshouse as well. The Almshouse has its original chapel which you can also explore, along with a garden and reading room. When you’re done with your Christmas tour, have a winter walk through the period gardens and enjoy the award-winning herb garden too. (22 November – 8 January)
Take a seat on a traditional steam train through Christmas in Wartime Britain, where you will be shoulder to shoulder with soldiers coming home to friends, family, and an atmosphere of relieved celebration. Reenactors set the scene at different stations along the Watercress line, and events and stalls at stations welcome you into a world gone by. There will also be a singalong of favourite Christmas songs to get you fully into the spirit. Your ticket will take you from Alton to Alresford through the beautiful passing countryside, and then back in time for tea. (26 – 27 December)
Head over to Portsmouth’s famous historical dockyard for a Christmas fair with all the trimmings! Children can meet Santa Claus and his reindeer, ready to fly presents around the world on Christmas Eve. Angels will sing carols and hymns that will echo around streets set up as snowy Dickensian scenes, and there will be festive rides like carousels that families can enjoy together. Stop to see performers dazzling the crowds with their street magic, and be taken back to a time of Christmas past. All of the Dockland’s attractions can be enjoyed with your Christmas Fair ticket, including the new Mary Rose Museum, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860, HMS M.33, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Boathouse 4 and Action Stations. (25 - 27 November)
Britain’s biggest fashion and beauty festival is back again and just in time for Christmas. Find the perfect Christmas outfit, or start to get your head around growing trends for next summer. Some of the biggest brands will be showcasing there, with the opportunity to buy designer pieces at special Clothes Show prices. Runway walks and beauty bloggers are the norm at this event, so be prepared to meet some stars and see some truly ground-breaking pieces of art by acclaimed designers. (2 – 6 December)
The Alnwick Gardens are open again for another magical Christmas experience. With lights festooned, there will be extra sparkle on the 18th December for the Grand Lantern Parade, a light and movement spectacular. If you’d like to be whisked away to another world, there’s a new performance this year entitled The Paradise Tree, running 16 -23 December, which has been grown in secret and now bears mysterious fruit. (Throughout December)
Do something different this Christmas and learn a bit of history on the way as well, as you wander through the caves as you’ve never seen them, decked out in their Christmas finery. Evie and her aeroplane have come to the caves again, and you can follow her adventure through the ancient iron mines. Kids can meet Father Christmas to tell him what they want for Christmas Day, and they’ll receive a gift from him a little early, too! When you’ve explored the caves fully, there’s a market to plunder, and delicious food in the Clearwell Caves Café. (26 November – 24 December)
Experience the delight of a Christmas market whilst also listening to an angelic choir, all in the gorgeous grounds of Hampton Court Palace. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to grab something delicious as a gift for foodie friends and family, and you could even pick up something to surprise your guests at Christmas dinner from local and internationally recognised vendors. Local choirs will also be on hand to provide that festive Christmas atmosphere. (9 – 11 December)
Wander through a twinkling German Christmas market, finding handmade gifts and delicious seasonal treats. Each stall has been dressed by a set designer to create a nostalgic Christmas atmosphere. But that’s not all; you can catch a glimpse of Father Christmas as he flies in on his sleigh over 35m in the air! Count the reindeer and wish him a Merry Christmas, and then you can collect a gift from him too. There’s plenty to see at the Southampton Christmas Fair, and it’s the perfect way to get into the yuletide spirit. (12 November - 23 December)
The Festival of Light is back and bigger than ever. See a stunning collection of lanterns, each one hand built and painted by a lantern master, illuminated across the Longleat gardens. Enjoy a magical walk through the grounds as they sparkle and reveal dragons, safaris, and even entire buildings. There are over 20, 000 lanterns in the collection waiting to dazzle you. Find your animal in the zodiac, and walk through tunnels of shining flowers. There are even entire scenes from history and mythology; spot the Monkey King, and the iconic terracotta army. You may even get the chance to board the Santa Express, and head to Santa’s snow-covered woodland grotto. (11 November – 2 January)
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