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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.