The festive season is a great time of the year to get together with family and friends. Maybe you want to relax and spend time with each other or reunite for a fun activity. To add some extra holiday cheer we’ve found magical events and winter wonderlands around the UK to suit every budget.

If you need more ideas closer to home, it’s worth exploring the tourism website for your region. For example, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own websites with lists of things to do as well as upcoming events.

The prices listed are accurate as of October 2023.


The Stonehaven Fireball Ceremony, Stonehaven

Stonehaven marks the New Year with a fireball ceremony that starts at midnight on December 31. The fire is meant to get rid of bad spirits so people can start the year afresh. It’s free to attend but donations are welcomed.

Cairngorm reindeer herd hill trip, Cairngorm

For something a little different, how about a trek to see reindeers in the Cairngorms? You’ll have a chance to get up close, and maybe even feed them. The experience costs £22 for adults, £15 for children, and £18.50 for students and seniors.

Torchlight Procession, Edinburgh

Get festive and do some good at the same time by joining Edinburgh’s Torchlight Procession, which started 30 years ago to shine a light on homelessness. Your torch and procession wristband costs £27.50, which includes a donation to charity. But you can also buy the participation ticket, which doesn’t include the torch, at £7.50 per ticket.


New Year Walk In, Powys

Here’s your chance to take part for free in the ancient Welsh tradition of Mari Lwyd. It’s a folk custom involving a procession of people following a decorated horse’s skull to a home where they sing to gain entry and receive refreshments. In this case, you’ll head to a local hotel, and return to the town square for celebrations at midnight.

Plas Newydd House Christmas, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

Winter walks, gift shopping, festive feasting and a silent disco are on offer at Plas Newydd’s mansion and gardens. The disco lights twinkle from 2 to 24 December on weekends only. Tickets are £11 for adults, and £5.50 for children.

Cardiff Christmas Festival, Cardiff

Enjoy a Christmas-themed musical performance in the Sophia Gardens, where a giant tent is the setting of a festive stage. There are multiple shows, including some designed for adults. Ticket prices vary depending on the show you choose and the performance time. They start from £11.25 and go up to £44.43.

excited happy woman exploring a new city on a cold day

Northern Ireland

Belfast Christmas Market, Belfast

Get into the festive spirit at a Christmas market. It’s just outside the town hall in Belfast, with stalls selling gifts, festive food and drink, and a fun fair. Entry is free but there’s a fee for activities like a visit to Santa’s Grotto.

Walking with the Snowman at Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough

The garden at Hillsborough Castle is the setting for the Walking with the Snowman trail, based on Raymond Briggs’ 1978 picture book. Look out for 12 giant Snowman sculptures as you explore the woodland. Entry is £10 for adults and £5 for children, or free if you’re a Historic Royal Palaces member.

Weekends with Santa at the Galgorm, Ballymena

Take the hassle out of a bigger gathering with this festive lunch at the Galgorm hotel. You’ll enjoy a four-course lunch before exploring a fairy trail or meeting Santa. The experience costs £40.95 per adult and £25.95 per child.

England: North

York Christmas Market, York

York Christmas Market has been going for over 30 years. Each winter, Alpine-style chalets line Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square selling locally made products. The central point is always the giant Christmas tree, glittery and decked out in lights.

The Christmas Kingdom at Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh

History fans will be inspired by an immersive Christmas experience set in this ancient Northumberland fortress. Visitors will tour the Castle’s staterooms for a magical event that draws on the region’s myths and legends. The Christmas Kingdom is included with general admission to the Castle, which costs £17.00 for adults and £8.50 for children over 4. Under 4s are free.

Christmas at Chatsworth, Peak District

Spend a whole day in the grounds of Chatsworth House, which will be transformed into a fantastic display of Christmas cheer. There are light trails in the garden, and farm animals for kids to meet. It costs £34 per adult and £19 per child.

England: South

Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the place to indulge in pretzels and bratwursts, all washed down with delicious gluhwein (mulled wine). It’s the largest German Christmas market outside its home country, so likely to offer a more authentic experience. There’s free live music too.

Islington Menorah Lighting, London

Gather your family for this free community event celebrating Chanukah (or Hanukkah), the Jewish festival of lights. A nine-branch Menorah will be lit and you’ll sing traditional songs. There’s also a chance for you to make your own candles and shadow puppets.

East Somerset Railway Santa Special, Somerset

Step aboard the Santa express to visit St Nicholas in the ‘North Pole’. Kids are treated to a goody bag with quiz sheets for the journey, and a gift from Santa when they arrive. For adults, there’s mulled wine and mince pies. Tickets start from £21 for adults and £20 for children.

Christmas at Kenwood House, London

13 brand new light installations are being put up in the Kenwood House gardens, offering an immersive experience as you walk through the grounds. Ticket prices vary from £22 to £30 for adults, and £17.50 to £22.75 for children.


As the nights get longer, coming together, sharing stories, and cherishing the company of the people we love can make this winter one to remember. If you’re looking to spend a little less this holiday season, there are still some magical activities and attractions to choose from.


Live your best life Insights