Winter is not the time to be counting the days till spring. Sure, it’s a little colder and a little darker, but there’s a magic within that all of its own. Glowing fairy lights, sparkling ice, it just wouldn’t look the same under the bright sunshine, right?
If you’re looking to plan the best winter stay-cation this Christmas, join us as we weave together a magical experience from the UK’s top winter destinations.
Christmas magic in Edinburgh
17th November – 5th January
You need to find out why the Christmas market in Edinburgh was voted the best in the UK 2017, right? Even the most hardened of Scrooges can’t help but warm up to the multitude of food and drinks stalls. Plus, the beautiful range of local and homemade gifts are sure to light up anyone’s Christmas Day.
There’s a lot going on, and it’s not just at the stalls. You certainly won’t get bored as Edinburgh sets out an exciting array of rides, such as the Forth 1 Big Wheel and the Star Flyer! And, of course, Santa will be visiting the market when Santa’s Grotto opens from 10:30am on 17th November.
Winter Event at Edinburgh Zoo
16th November – 17th February
The zoo animals might have settled down for the winter, but the spectacle of Edinburgh Zoo is very much here year-round. You might be surprised to see a few new ‘animals’ staying at the zoo, with unicorns and the centaur-like Nuckelavee taking up residence! Alongside many other myths and legends, they’ll light your way along the route as you explore the Giant Lanterns of China! There’re over 450 handmade Chinese lanterns glowing through the route. Plus, you can stay warm and toasty as you go through, with a marketplace on offer serving hot drinks and snacks.
Where to stay
Cairn Hotel Edinburgh
For a fantastic hotel close to all the key locations of Edinburgh, you can’t go wrong with the Cairn Hotel. It’s just a ten minute walk from the hotel to Princes Street Gardens, where the Christmas markets are held, and less than a 20 minute drive to Edinburgh Zoo. With free Wi-Fi in all rooms, you’ll be able to upload all your photos of the gorgeous Giant Lanterns and the festive Christmas markets.
Their standard rooms have:
- Complimentary snacks and bottled water
- En-suite bathroom
- Tea and coffee making facilities
Price: Small double room from £243.00* based on 2 adults for 2 nights.
Christmas magic away from the cities
Christmas is usually a bright, glitzy, and often loud affair. But if your idea of a Christmas staycation is to stay away from the loud noises and crowds of people, why not seek refuge in one of the many amazing forests in the UK?
Find your own perfect staycation by staying away from all the Christmas madness in a gorgeous cabin. Stroll through the winter morning in a lush forest, and unwind with a Christmas dinner without sweating in the kitchen. Forest Holidays even offers a real Christmas tree with lights in your cabin if you stay over the Christmas period, between 21st-31st December, complete with a decoration crafting kit. Plus, you’ll find all the entertainment of the busy city within the quiet getaway of the forest, with a visit from Santa and carollers.
To make it a truly pampering experience, there’s even the option to book a hot tub cabin.
Prices: For Thorpe Forest, prices for 2 adults sharing 1 bedroom at Golden Oak Hideaway for 3 nights start at £695.00*. Please note there are a number of locations available up and down the UK.
Christmas magic in Belfast
Game of Thrones Tours
Winter is here, but luckily, you don’t need to worry about the Night King. Whether you’re an avid fan of the world-engrossing Game of Thrones series, or you just want to see some the most spectacular and beautiful sights Belfast has to offer, you can’t miss the Game of Thrones Tours.
Belfast has two tour routes on offer:
- Belfast Iron Islands, Giant’s Causeway, and Rope Bridge Adventure — this route will see you cover everything in its title, as well as settings used for Arya in Braavos and the Red Lady’s Cave. Plus, you’ll get to explore the natural formation of The Dark Hedges. These beech trees were planted in the 18th century, and form a beautifully haunting tunnel. It is even said that the famous Grey Lady wanders through the road…
- Belfast Winterfell Locations Trek — If you’re a loyal follower of the King in the North, then this route is for you. You’ll see sets and settings for scenes from Robb’s Camp to the fateful spot where the Starks found their Direwolf Pups.
17th November – 22nd December
Set against the gorgeous background of the Belfast City Hall, the city’s Christmas market is truly magical. The outdoor food court means you can sit down for a while and relish in some of the best foods of the continent, from speciality cheeses to a hog roast! Plus, Santa’s got a busy schedule this year, as he’ll be hosting a Santa’s Grotto in Belfast as well as Edinburgh.
Where to stay
Jury’s Inn, Great Victoria Street
Thaw away the winter’s frost at Jury’s Inn. Plus, if you’re heading out for the Game of Thrones Tours, the coach arrives outside this hotel at 8:15am. The Christmas markets are just a five minute walk away too, so you’re in the best position for seeing all the sights!
Take your stay-cation to the next level with Jury’s Inn’s Superior Package, featuring:
- 10% lunch and dinner discount
- Daily complimentary Costa coffee per guest
- Air conditioning
- Complimentary mineral water and biscuits
Price: Double Room with Superior Package from £283.50* for 2 adults for 2 nights.
If you’re going to be making the journey to your magical winter stay-cation by car then you need to look at getting your car serviced before you make the journey; Lookers offer a car service plan which minimises any risk of faults that may occur with your vehicle when facing the winter weather.
*Prices correct as of 12th November 2018