Winter: Things To Do & Where To Go In The UK 2023
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Winter: Things To Do & Where To Go In The UK 2023

Looking for something to do this winter? These are the best things to do and spots to visit in the UK

Planning for a last-minute winter staycation or hunting for the most beautiful places to visit in your local area? You’ve come to the right place. To keep the short days and frosty starts jolly, in this travel guide we’ve rounded up the best winter UK trips and things to do from every corner of the country

Read the C&TH Responsible Tourism Guide

Best Places To Visit In Winter In The UK

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The Christmas Cotswold Fair, supporting WellChild, at Daylesford Organic Farmshop

The Cotswold Christmas Fair

Grab your mistletoe and wine: it’s time for The Cotswold Christmas Fair. Moving to a new venue for 2023, this annual festive shopping extravaganza promises to be bigger and better than ever this year, featuring over 220 stallholders selling everything from homeware to pet accessories. This is the 38th edition of the Fair, and is once again being held in support of national children’s charity, WellChild. Meanwhile, visitors can enjoy a wealth of workshops, demonstrations, and the return of the luxurious Cotswold Grey VIP Lounge with delectable dishes from The Potted Goose Pub Co. Plus, book signings and author meet-and-greets will be hosted with big names such as Prue Leith, Emma Sims Hilditch, Matt Adlard, Kaleb Cooper, Adam Henson, Lyida Millen and Clare Balding all on the roster.

Details: 6–9 November 2023 at Evenlode Grounds (GL56 0YS). Tickets are £20 per person and can be purchased at

Image © Andrew Higgins/Thousand Word Media

Winter Light Show

Wrap up in your cosiest winter gear, and head to one of these glittering winter light shows to see the festive illuminations.

Holkham Hall decorated for Christmas 2022

Holkham Hall By Candlelight

Throughout December, visitors are welcomed into Norfolk’s beautiful Holkham Hall, which is totally transformed into a magical wonderland for Christmas. Embark on a self-led tour – after a welcome glass of prosecco (or something soft) and a mince pie – to explore the candlelit rooms at your own pace, with Hall Guides on hand to share the story behind each room and answer any questions.

Details: Throughout December at Holkham Hall (Holkham Rd, Wells-next-the-Sea NR23 1AB). Tickets are £32 adults, £16 children (2-16), under 2s free.

Leeds Castle's 'A Narnia Christmas at the Castle' with Mr Tumnus and Mrs Beaver

Narnia at Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle will be transformed into C.S. Lewis’ wintery world of Narnia this season, inviting little ones to delve into his timeless tale and take in the wonder of Christmas. The classic story will be brought to life through captivating storytelling and beautiful installations played out within the Castle’s sparkling and festively decorated 1930s interiors, while visitors will encounter the beloved inhabitants of Narnia, including treasured faun Mr Tumnus and Aslan the Great Lion.

Details: 25 November 2023–1 January 2024 at Leeds Castle (Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL).

Festive Season Dreamland Margate

Christmas World at Dreamland Margate

This vintage funfair is having a Christmassy makeover – and it’s totally free to attend. Step inside the magical, glittering, winter wonderland to enjoy a host of festive food and drinks stalls alongside classic funfair games, specially selected rides, a mass all-weather Snowball Fight zone, and a classic magical grotto.

Details: 15–22 December 2023 at Dreamland Margate (49-51, Marine Terrace, Margate CT9 1XJ). Free entry, but specially selected rides, food and beverages, activities and entertainment at extra cost.



Fancy a magical, snowy coastal scene? Head to Cornwall, where you can hole up in Hawksfield on the Atlantic Highway between Padstow and Wadebridge when the weather gets too frosty. Here you’ll find vintage film posters at Goose Shed, proper coffee at Strong Adolfos, and local produce at The Arc Food Store.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Every year, visitors flock to Hyde Park to make the most of Winter Wonderland’s festive joy. Expect new attractions alongside firm favourites, like the Hollenblitz, Magical Ice Kingdom and the UK’s largest outdoor ice skating rink.

Details: Open everyday from 10 am–10 pm, 17 November 2023–1 January 2024 (excluding Christmas day) in Hyde Park, London. Tickets are free during off-peak times, and either £5 or £7.50 at peak times. Booking ahead is essential.

a bright, neutral toned whisky bar with bottles lining the wall

Warming Whisky Experience

All whisky lovers know that Scotland is the place to be. Now, Johnnie Walker is helping whisky lovers to learn more about the spirit, whether you’re an occasional drinker or an experienced collector. The new Johnnie Walker Princes Street experience, across eight floors, showcases casks, tastings and everything there is to know about whisky, concluding with a trip to the 1820 Bar for a cocktail or the Bothy Bar for a dram.

Detail:? Whisky Makers’ Cellar experience from £95 per person at Johnnie Walker Princes Street (145 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 4BL).

Image: The Bothy Bar

Thermae Bath Spa

A Thermal Spa in Bath

The Roman Baths in Bath are the remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world and well worth a visit. The baths still flow with natural hot water in winter, from the thermal springs that lie beneath the city.

Read our guide to the best day spas in Bath

Image: Thermae Bath Spa

The Cridford Inn

A Cosy Pub In Devon

Found yourself in Devon this winter? Grab a pint at The Cridford Inn. The longhouse dates back to 825AD, making it one of the UK’s oldest pubs.

Details: The Cridford Inn (Trusham, Newton Abbot TQ13 0NR). Book ahead at

Edinburgh Christmas Market, Scotland

Christmas Markets

The UK benefits from a plethora of gorgeous Christmas markets – there’s sure to be one nearby. Notable mentions include Winchester, Chatsworth, Manchester, Southampton, York, Bath and Edinburgh. Here’s the full list of our favourites.

Image: Edinburgh Christmas Market.

Longleat Festival of Light

Longleat Safari Park’s Festival Of Light

Longleat Safari Park’s annual Festival of Light never disappoints at this time of year, so be sure to book ahead. This year, the theme is Treasured Tales, so book an all-day ticket to ensure there’s time to meet all of the little ones’ favourite characters, from Little Red Riding Hood to Rapunzel.

Details: From 11 November 2023–7 January 2024 at Longleat (Warminster BA12 7NW). Tickets from £22.45. Book ahead at


Go For Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason is an art form. While its scones are a huge draw, here it’s all about the tea. With over 300-years’ experience, their on-hand ‘tearistas’ will help you find the perfect blend.

Edinburgh cityscape as viewed from the Calton Hill with the Dugald Stewart Monument in foreground in the evening sun

Celebrate Burns Night

Head to the capital city for Burns Night on 25 January, one of Scotland’s most cherished celebrations. Robert Burns is a famous Scots poet, where silly speeches, haggis, whisky tasting is usually on the menu.

Details:Find a full guide to events across Scotland at

painting class

Try An Art Class

Retreat to the warmth of the artist’s studio this winter. If you’re nearby, try West Dean College and let the surrounding landscape inspire you on one of the college’s weekend creative courses.

Details: West Dean College (West Sussex, West Dean, Chichester PO18 0QZ). Book ahead at

Photo by Diana Akhmedova via Pexels

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Go On A Gin Tour & Tasting

Gin bunnies and design aficionados, take note. What could be more warming than a tour and tasting around the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill (near Whitchurch in Hampshire), which produces around 25 million litres of gin a year. Bottoms up!

Details:Laverstoke Mill, London Rd, Whitchurch RG28 7NR. Book ahead at

mary rose museum, things to do in winter

Visit Henry VIII’s Favourite Ship

You don’t need a sunny day to go back in time to 1545. In fact, a stormy, wintry day is much the best setting for a visit to the Mary Rose in Hampshire‘s Portsmouth, which sank that fateful year after 34 years’ service. This magnificent museum will take you to a Tudor treasure trove and teach you a history lesson so much more exciting than one in the classroom.

HOW? Tickets from £24 per child at Main Rd, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3PY. Book ahead at

Image: Geni via Wikimedia Commons.

Bedgebury Forest

Go On An Invigorating Walk

What’s a British winter without wrapping up in every layer you can get your mitts on and venturing out into the cold when there’s even the slightest glimpse of sunshine? Blow away the holiday cobwebs with an invigorating walk – perhaps around Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest in Kent.

Details: Plan your trip and find walking trails at

Image: Bedgebury Forest.

Normanton Church

Further north, walk the shores of Rutland Water to Normanton Church, which was saved from certain destruction by the community in 1970 when plans to flood the area were set into motion. Thankfully, the structure still stands, appearing to float on the water from a distance – it’s the stuff of fairytales in the winter.

Details: Plan your trip and find printable maps at

Image: Normanton Church.



Arthurs Seat View

Or walk to the summit of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh for spectacular views of the city and snow-capped mountains in the distance. Then head to the Sheep Heid Inn for a warming hot chocolate and a game of skittles.

And, if you’re spending a while in Edinburgh, take an hour train to the medieval seaside town of St Andrews. Famously where St Andrews University students dwell, you won’t be short of things to do: blustery beach walks on West Sands and Castle Sands, plenty of indie cosy coffee shops, with smart hotels and restaurants.

Details: Discover more at

Yorkshire Dales National Park Stazione Centrale


Walk through the Yorkshire Dales to the ruins of Fountains Abbey, the largest monastic ruins in the country.

Or Castle Howard, recognisable from Brideshead Revisited, is spectacular both inside and out. At Christmas time, the house is decorated with thousands of decorations and hosts a fantastic Christmas market.

Details: Find opening times and ticket prices at Pre-booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

Wildlife Reserve

Witness a wildlife show like no other at Donna Nook nature reserve, Lincolnshire. Each year between November and December, a colony of grey Atlantic seals deliver their pups in the dunes.

Details: Donna Nook, Louth LN11 7PD. Discover more at

Ski chairlift ar Glenshee on a sunny snowy day. The chairlift stops just below the summit of The Cairnwell a Scottish munro.

Ski On Home Soil

Scotland has a ski season, too, don’t you know. From 17 December, go for a ski at Glenshee where there are 22 lifts and 36 runs to take advantage of, with something to suit all abilities.

Details: Glenshee Ski Centre, Old Military Rd, Ballater AB35 5XU. Plan your trip at

Cotswolds Village Snow

Chocolate Box Village

Just as your typical Cotswolds villages are divine in summer, they’re just as compelling in winter even if you just stay in the car. Our favourites are Chipping Campden, a former wool trading centre, Bourton-on-the-Water, known for its model village and railway, and Bibury, said to be the most beautiful village in England by William Morris.

Hunker down in one of the area’s loveliest pubs. To order a pint next to Kate Moss, head to the Swan at Southrop; for Prue Leith’s favourite foodie pub, head to The Fox Inn at Lower Oddington and for Laurie Lee’s old haunt, choose The Woolpack in Slad.

If you enjoy walking, don’t miss Miserden‘s new interactive nature trail, with information points and QR codes to inform families all about the surrounding wildlife.

Details: Check out our ultimate guide to the Cotswolds, its lovely pubs and its cosy hotels for all of our favourite spots.

Norfolk Broads

Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads are busy throughout the summer but the world and his wife are missing a trick, this spot is undoubtedly at its most dramatic in winter, when only a handful of brave souls wind between the frost-covered banks. Keep your eyes peeled for the otters.

Details: Discover more at

Chatsworth House Derbyshire


The county calls for a whole week’s stay as there’s so much to see. You’ll want to spend a day or two traversing the Peak District National Park.

Reserve a day to explore Chatsworth House too. The estate that’s known as Mr Darcy’s abode in the Kiera Knightley adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, doesn’t disappoint. Meander around the gardens, marvel at the architecture and design, before settling into their fabulously grand afternoon tea.

Details: Plan your trip and book ahead at

Image: Chatsworth House.


Explore The Welsh Foodie Scene

Cardiff is at the vanguard of a new Welsh foodie scene. Check out gems like 100 percent vegan Anna Loka, or the splendid Chapel 1877, where you might dine on roast rump of welsh lamb with parmentier potatoes.

Details: Book ahead at and

Featured Image: Land’s End, Cornwall.