Six of the best festive events in the UK and where to stay
While the shops seem to put up their festive displays earlier and earlier every year, there's something about the clocks going back that gives us permission to talk about Christmas in public!
So it's finally time to think about hauling those dusty decorations out of the cupboard, making those shopping lists, gathering the family together and planning for the Big Day.
But...hold on a moment! Before all the busy-ness really sets in, how about a relaxing and fun-filled break to really fire you up ahead of the festive season?
There are so many fabulous Christmassy events coming up, held all around the UK. Wouldn't it be fantastic if someone could just do all the hard work of narrowing down some of the very best, then pair them with a wondrously ‘out of the ordinary' place to stay?
Well, we've gone and done just that. Consider it our gift to you - and like all Christmas gifts, it's best enjoyed with a steaming glass of mulled wine and a mince pie!
Isle of Wight
Event: Osborne House Victorian Christmas (1st - 2nd December)
Relive Christmases past at the strikingly grand Osborne House in East Cowes, where you can tour the festively-dressed rooms, then take a ride on the carousel, meet Father Christmas and feast on roasted chestnuts in the snowy courtyard!
Once you've enjoyed a glass of mulled cider under the twinkling evening lights, make your way to The Scout Hall (above), a friendly and charming retro hall featuring four deliciously cosy bedrooms. We've heard there will be Christmas decorations, too.
Tiny Homes Holidays, meanwhile, prove that good things come in small packages! An ethical retreat in a downsized, deceptively spacious home surrounded by scenic walking trails, you're sure to feel revived before all the present-wrapping begins.
(Oh, and if you enjoy crafting, the on-site ‘Making Christmas' workshop will fill you with seasonal joy).
Event: Dickensian Christmas Festival (1st - 2nd December)
Come and witness Rochester's transformation into a feast of Victorian delights, all framed by the city's fairytale cathedral. Enjoy carol singing amidst lamp-lit parades, meet some familiar Dickensian characters - and with shopping stalls galore, you're sure to find something for everybody on your list (unless your name is Scrooge, that is!)
Indulge to your heart's content, then spirit yourselves away to The Enchanted Faraway Tree (above), a secluded, storybook-inspired hideaway that's perfect for couples. Hope for snow, as you gaze up at the treehouse pod's glass-domed ceiling and light the wood-fired stove.
Honey Lodge Retreat is located on the same site; a gorgeous ‘grown-ups only' log cabin, complete with outdoor hot tub and wood-burning sauna.
Event: Winter Wonderland (23rd November - 6th January)
Stay at: Owl's Lookout
A must-visit event for families, there is truly something for everyone at Hyde Park's famous annual festive extravaganza.
Along with staples including the Bavarian Village and ice skating rink, exciting new attractions include The SnowmanTM experience, Peter Pan on Ice, and a giant observation wheel. Take part in ice sculpting workshops as you sip your delicious hot toddy of choice - oh, and don't forget to visit Santa Land!
Afterwards, head to Owl's Lookout at North Hill Farm - the latest in a quirky array of childhood-fantasy holiday homes on the site. Cleverly designed to resemble a majestic owl in flight, this lovingly-crafted, luxury family treehouse will make everybody smile.
Event: Christmas at The Alnwick Garden (from 17th November)
Stay at: Middleton Hall Folly
The Alnwick Garden is home to an enormous, beautifully crafted treehouse-restaurant that stands proudly amongst mature lime trees. Can you think of a more glorious setting for a fabulous festive event?
Not only can you enjoy some tasty Christmas treats at the restaurant, you can also indulge in street theatre, ice skating, and watch the Grand Lantern Parade as it makes its way into Alnwick Town...led by Father Christmas himself! There's also a Christmas market held at weekends, at the foot of the treehouse - ideal for getting that gift shopping started.
Keep the fairytale going with a stay at Middleton Hall, an exquisite three-storey couples' folly secluded on the grounds of an historic mansion house dating back to 1871. Featuring a glass door that looks out onto a stunning Italian garden, this is a rustic fantasy made real.
Event: Powis Castle Illuminated Gardens (various dates from 30th November - 16th December)
Stay at: Oaklands Glamping and Treehouse
While the immaculate National Trust castle and gardens are spectacular sights at any time of year, they really come into their own when illuminated at Christmas time. Take a delightful festive stroll around the formal gardens, terraces and courtyard and feel your soul light up.
Then, head for Oaklands Glamping and Treehouse, and indulge in the warm embrace of this detail-oriented, adults-only retreat. Sumptuous furnishings, wood-fired hot tubs and walk-in rainfall showers rule the day here, along with wondrous wildlife-steeped views.
Event: Christmas at the Botanics (selected evenings from 23rd November - 29th December)
Stay at: Edinburgh Green Boat
Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens get a spectacular festive makeover, with more than a million twinkling lights on show! Wander the enchanted winter trail, complete with luminous flowers, snowflakes, stars and baubles, then stop at the scented Fire Garden for a moment of pure calm, before all the madness of Christmas preparation takes hold.
A stylish and comfortable houseboat moored in the city centre, a stay at Edinburgh Green Boat extends the magic. Gorgeously homely, this vibrant wide-beamed boat is deceptively spacious inside, and you'll even be supplied with a bathrobe, slippers and a foot spa!
So, have you made up your mind yet?
Whether you're planning a Christmas-themed stay, or you just fancy a break from hectic everyday life, our website is home to countless unusual places to stay that promise to enthral your senses.
To make your life easier, we've even categorised them all - so why not come and choose your favourite?
Main image: Powis Castle Illuminated Gardens