The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner, and cities up and down the UK are decking the halls in preparation for the big day.
If you’re heading out exploring this winter, you’ll be able to take your pick from a whole host of magical festive events, all of which have been carefully curated to bring the spirit of Christmas to life.
Our top picks for festive wonderment this winter come in the form of atmospheric Christmas markets, unmissable ice skating experiences, and opportunities to meet Father Christmas himself.
Find the Best Festive Events
Christmas festivities are back with a bang for 2023, and cities all over the UK are taking advantage of their freedom to create festive events that are truly out of this world.
Our top festive events for this year have been handpicked from some of our favourite festive destinations and include city-centre entertainment options, along with magical experiences that are a little off the beaten track.
Whether you’re immersing yourself in the magic of Christmas in the capital, heading to Birmingham for the ultimate festive day out, considering Manchester as this year’s Christmas shopping destination, or planning a country Christmas in Yorkshire, we’ve got you covered.
Festive Events Birmingham
Birmingham is getting ready for an unforgettable Christmas, with exciting events popping up everywhere. Stay in the heart of the city and spend your days wandering the picture-perfect Christmas markets, or head to the big wheel for the best views in town.
Ice Skating in the City
Christmas wouldn’t be quite right without at least one ice skating trip in Birmingham, it’s the perfect place to get that festive fix!
Visit Centenary Square, and you can enjoy an incredible outdoor ice skating rink, along with a Big Wheel, where you’ll be treated to amazing views of the Christmas lights.
The German Christmas Market
We love a Christmas market, and Birmingham’s annual German market never disappoints.
Every winter, stalls pop up along New Street and around Victoria Square, selling all the festive treats that we know and love.
Tuck into delicious seasonal favourites, treat your friends and family to a unique gift, or just soak up the atmosphere with a mulled wine or two.
Love Actually in Concert
Love Actually turns 20 this year, and it’s still up there with our favourite Christmas movies of all time. If you’re a fan, make sure you book a ticket to Love Actually in Concert.
Taking place at Symphony Hall, the show will be accompanied by a live orchestra performing all the festive scores from the movie.
Santa Paws Weekend
You didn’t think we’d forget about our four-legged friends this Christmas, did you?
Well, the good people of Birmingham have something just for them. That’s right, it’s a Santa’s Grotto… for dogs.
Expect festive food and drink and a dog menu, of course. If you’ve got a pampered pooch at home, you won’t want to miss the Santa Paws Weekend!
Where to Stay in Birmingham
After a long day of visiting Birmingham’s festive events, stay at our stunning Billesley Manor Hotel, just a few miles outside of Birmingham.
With 71 bedrooms to choose from, the historical Billesley Manor offers the perfect setting to relax. The spa located in the hotel provides you with a selection of beauty rooms and an extensive range of Espa treatments on offer.
Festive Events London
Nowhere does Christmas quite like London.
From the glittering decor of Covent Garden and the world-famous Trafalgar Square Christmas tree to the atmospheric Christmas markets of the South Bank, there’s always something to get you in the mood for celebrating in the capital.
Elf the Musical
Book a ticket to see Elf the Musical at the Dominion Theatre, and enjoy all the fun and frolics of the iconic Christmas film, adapted for the stage.
There are some brilliantly festive tunes to enjoy in this show – and it’s just as hilarious as the much-loved movie.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
Pre-book a ticket for one of London’s most famous Christmas events, and you’ll be treated to live entertainment, delicious festive food and drink, rides, and much more.
Carols at St Paul’s
Celebrating Christmas in the capital can be pricey, but some of the most atmospheric Christmas experiences won’t cost you a thing.
Nothing will get you in the Christmas spirit quite like an evening of carols at St Paul’s, and the good news is that all of the Christmas services at this spectacular cathedral are free to attend.
Where to Stay in London
Stay within moments of our top picks and make the most of everything the capital has to offer this year. In the heart of Paddington, The Rove Hotel London is just 10 minutes from Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and Kensington Gardens.
Alternatively, boutique hotel La Suite West is within easy access to Notting Hill, Portobello Market, and Oxford Street.
Festive Events Manchester
Manchester has Christmas events for all ages, with everything from family-friendly entertainment and grottos to unmissable festive shows and atmospheric bars. Here are our top picks for Christmas in Manchester.
Glow at RHS Garden Bridgewater
RHS Bridgewater will be lit up for the festive season as it presents Glow. This unmissable light show treats visitors to a view of the gardens like no other and is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.
The Trafford Centre presents Tinseltown this winter, an oasis of festive fun in the heart of the city. Little ones will get the chance to visit Santa in his grotto before taking a spin on the festive fairground and watching this year’s ice show: Snowstorm 2.
The Polar Express Train Ride
Don’t miss the Polar Express. Leaving from the Churnet Valley Railway, this brilliantly festive-themed trip will whisk ticket holders all the way to the North Pole for the ultimate Christmas experience.
Where to Stay in Manchester
Book a room at one of our city centre hotels, and you’ll have a base in the heart of the action.
Housed within a former bank premises at 100 King Street, the luxurious Hotel Gotham is the recipient of a whole host of awards. The hotel has 60 opulent rooms, a two AA Rosette awarded restaurant, and a roof-top private bar and members club.
Festive Events Yorkshire
Explore Yorkshire this winter and make the most of the festivities as you travel through town and country.
Head to the city of York for a late night shopping at the Shambles, visit National Trust properties for epic winter walks, or prepare for a magical adventure in Neverland at Castle Howard.
Christmas at Castle Howard
This year, Castle Howard presents a Neverland-themed experience that’s perfect for all ages.
After a brief visit from Tinkerbell and a sprinkling of fairy dust, the entire house has been transformed into a winter wonderland, and it’s ready and waiting for visitors to explore.
The York Christmas Market
York’s annual Christmas market this winter, with 75 alpine chalets appearing along Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square.
Look out for delicious festive treats and beautiful artisan gifts as you explore one of the most atmospheric Christmas markets in the UK.
A Magical World at Nostell
Head to Nostell this winter for a festive day out with a magical fairy tale theme.
The house will be beautifully decorated in all its Christmas finery, with each room featuring elements from the famous tales of Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast.
Where to Stay in Yorkshire
There are so many beautiful places to stay in Yorkshire, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. Here are just two of our top picks – for some festive accommodation inspiration.
The Royal Whitby is one of the jewels in the Coast & Country Hotel Collection crown. With its stunning cliff-top location and amazing views, it’s the perfect place to stay this Christmas.
If you’re looking for real Christmas magic, why not stay in a 14th-century castle? Lumley Castle is within easy reach of both Durham and Newcastle and makes the perfect base for winter escapes in the North East.
Get More Advice on Festive Events
If you’re planning a festive break in the next few weeks and want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, our team is here to help.
Enjoy all the magic of Christmas with a festive break in the run-up to the big day. Whether you’re planning a shopping weekend in the city, a rural escape in Yorkshire or the ultimate weekend of Christmas experiences in London, our team is here to help make it happen.
Get in touch to find out more about our recommended hotels in your chosen destination, and we’ll help turn those Christmas dreams into a reality.