There's something magical about Britain at Christmas. Twinkling lights, Christmas markets and frosty landscapes make our beautiful country the perfect place for a traditional Christmas break.
Whether you're looking for a festive city, picture-perfect village or a snowy mountain setting to celebrate one of the best times of year, you've come to the right place as we've rounded up the most Christmassy destinations in the UK, from pretty Helmsley to splendid Snowdonia.
Big cities London, Manchester and Cardiff are popular for Christmas shopping, parties and family attractions at this time of year, but there are many alternatives across the UK, such as Norwich, Nottingham and Bath, offering more events and festivities than you can fit into a few days.
Winchester is excellent for an authentic winter experience, where picturesque Winchester Cathedral is integral to the celebrations, hosting Winchester's renowned Christmas market, and the kids can enjoy the winter wonderland of Marwell Zoo, joining the elves in their magical woodland and meeting Mrs Claus for the heart-warming tale of Jack Frost.
If you prefer to escape the crowds and visit a quiet English village, Broadway in Worcestershire appears straight out of a Christmas card and comes alive in December, when carol singers, horse and carriage rides and entertainers take to the streets.
Whether you're looking to go north or south for your Christmas break in the UK, the best thing about Britain's Christmas towns and cities is the abundance of fun for everyone - from Santa steam train rides, Alpine-style bars serving mulled wine and roller discos churning out your favourite Christmas hits.
Explore our pick of the best places for a Christmas holiday in the UK.
Best Christmas destinations in the UK
Best Christmas destinations in the UK
As if the chocolate box Cotswold village of Broadway didn't look perfectly Christmassy enough, visitors to this stunning spot in Worcestershire are treated to a whole host of festivities in December. Carol singers, horse and carriage rides, street entertainers and the Christmas Tree Festival are some of the most delightful things to enjoy from 4 to 6 December, the late night Christmas shopping on 4 December includes double decker bus rides, mulled wine and music.
Edinburgh offers a magical backdrop for Christmas shopping, nights out and exceptional winter events if you're looking for a lively break. The Christmas markets bring festive cheer to the city until 4 January and grown-ups can enjoy mulled wine and mince pies while the kids get excited about toys and treats. Head for St Andrew Square to get your skates on and glide all the way round the Melville Monument's ice rink before enjoying the Street of Light, a specially-designed architectural installation of 60,000 lights stretching along the Royal Mile, from the City Chambers to the Tron Kirk.
Each year, the cobbled streets and square between beautiful Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths become a shopper's paradise at Bath Christmas Market. From 26 November, more than 170 traditional wooden chalets line the streets of Bath, each offering bespoke gifts, decorations and edible goodies. Peruse locally-produced items and sip on hot mulled wine accompanied by the sounds of Christmas carols. For those in the mood for dancing, the Christmas party nights at the Roman Baths and Pump Room are always a hit Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal makes for a fun day out for the kids.
Nottingham's Winter Wonderland features a Christmas market with over 50 Victorian-style trading cabins, two themed winter bars and a bandstand. Festive outdoor ice skating is at the heart of the festivities in the Old Market Square until 3 January and in addition to this fun day out, you won't want to miss 13 December at Nottingham Castle when there will be a Christmas craft fair and a children's trail around the castle to claim a prize.
Known as the 'perfect English city,' Winchester offers an authentic winter experience and plenty of fun throughout the festive period. Each Christmas, picturesque Winchester Cathedral is integral to the celebrations, hosting Winchester's renowned Christmas market, where pretty wooden chalets are brimming with festive treats, mulled wine and German-inspired food. Winchester also hosts the Farmers' Market, famous for being featured on Rick Stein's food programme and providing an abundance of Winchester's finest produce. The kids will love Marwell Zoo at this time of year when it turns into a winter wonderland. Join the elves in their magical woodland and meet Mrs Claus for the heart-warming tale of Jack Frost.
From the annual Christmas Tree Festival to a Festive Fun Day in the North Yorkshire market town, Helmsley is a lovely place to visit for a Christmas getaway. Held in the historic All Saints Church, the Christmas Tree Festival begins on 5 December, with 30 locally sourced 6ft trees put on display. Local businesses take part in the Festive Fun Day on 5 December and a pop-up ice rink will appear at The Black Swan on the town’s picturesque Market Place from 3 to 6 December with room for 50 skaters at a time. For those who prefer to watch, wintery refreshments will be served from an Alpine-style log cabin.
From elf trails to ice, Chester has everything to entertain the whole family this Christmas. Chester Racecourse transforms into a snow-covered fantasyland, with attractions including a German-style market, Santa's reindeer and the Alpine Ski Bar. Lantern Magic returns to Chester Zoo, where families can journey through the magical gardens complete with life-sized animal lanterns, visiting the elephant house and Fruit Bat Forest while enjoying festive tasty treats. At Chester Cathedral, you can celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with carol concerts, seasonal performances and exhibitions. And don't miss the cathedral's 40 majestic Christmas trees lit up at the Christmas Tree Festival.
Set on the River Dart, Totnes in South Devon is a delight for foodies and shoppers at Christmas. On 8, 15 and 22 December, the night time Christmas market and late night shopping takes place, with food and gift stalls and entertainment filling the town's main street. Nearby, there are great family events and the chance to meet Santa. Train fans will love Santa by Steam at the South Devon Railway in Buckfastleigh, when the man in red rides on a special Grotto train, giving everyone a gift (there's even mulled wine and mince pies for the grown-ups). Christmas at Pennywell Farm offers the ultimate festive day out. Enjoy breakfast with Santa, feed the reindeer and take part in nativity plays at the farm.
Christmas is one of the most delightful times to visit Kent, when a whole host of events take over the county. At Canterbury Cathedral, you can enjoy family carols and charity celebrations in the run up to the big day, and don’t miss the Christmas Carol Service on 23 December and Christmas Eve. Leeds Castle, the 'loveliest castle in the world', will be decked out in glorious decorations throughout December, with plenty of seasonal things to see and do for all ages. Book your visit to see Santa, take wintry woodland walks and ride nostalgic fairground rides. Over in Margate, a trip to The Frosted Fairground is a must, as Dreamland is transformed into a vintage wonderland, with a toy workshop experience, festive shows and a roller disco churning out all your favourite Christmas hits.
A wonderfully festive place for a Christmas mini-break, Snowdonia boasts a magical landscape and an array of events. This Christmas, the world's biggest underground trampoline plays host to Santa's grotto, where families can meet the man himself and have a bounce at Bounce Below's trampoline surrounded by twinkling lights and festive decorations. The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway also welcomes Father Christmas and his elves on a festive train ride and Christmas shoppers visiting Snowdonia should head for Portmeirion's annual Food & Craft Fair on 5 and 6 December to marvel at the festive treats and entertainment on offer.
With plenty to see and do this Christmas, Norwich will leave you spoilt for choice. The Norwich Global Village Christmas Market on 4 and 5 December offers crafts and gifts from different corners of the globe, along with warming world cuisine and a visit from Father Christmas, performers from Hocus Pocus Theatre and the Norwich Community Choir. In preparation for the festive period, Woodforde’s Norfolk Ales will offer the opportunity for members of the public to look behind-the-scenes as it opens its brewery doors on 5 and 6 December, for a weekend of beer tastings and brewery tours, and at Norwich Castle, there will be festive stories and craft-making inspired by traditional song Twelve Days of Christmas, from 19 December.