Christmas is coming and it’s headed for the South West. A region filled beautiful landscapes, friendly people, gothic architecture and winter activities for a memorable Christmas break. The South West has had its share of trouble, having survived the stormiest winter, but like a strong bull, it rises.
From enchanted houses, fairytale stories, celebrity chefs, Victorian buildings and a plethora of beaches, you won’t lack for activities to fill your Christmas itinerary.
7 destinations to explore in England’s southwest, this Christmas
Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
Christmas is a memorable event at Lalock every year. The Abbey is located in its own woodland grounds, in the heart of the city. Activities in the quintessential English village include a visit to the Fox Talbot Museum, refreshing walks in the frosty grounds, explore the woodland landscapes, enjoy winterberries and relax with an afternoon tea in one of the tearooms.
Choose your winner in the annual Christmas tree festival that holds in the abbey cloister, follow the family trail around the village and give your kids an audience with Father Christmas.
Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire
This beautiful town doesn’t receive all the attention it deserves. With amazing Georgian houses, unused textile mills lining the streets and an ancient bridge linking to Avon at the heart of the town. Bradford on Avon is the perfect destination for a unique Christmas experience.
Expect local craft, roast chestnuts, carols and mulled wine in the first weekend of December when the Christmas Floating Market on the Bradford part of the canal and in the evenings, visit the Wiltshire Music Centre for quality jazz, classical and folk concerts.
Shop an array of festive gifts made from local delicacies and crafts at the Salisbury annual Christmas Market, take a leisure walk from Timbrell’s yard along the river to Tithe Barn and visit Iford Manor to immerse yourself in Italian style gardens and tranquil beauty.
The small riverside town of Totnes has many independent cafes, shops and medieval buildings than other towns of similar size. It creates a spectacular backdrop during the Christmas street markets that holds in December every year.
Take the round robin circular tour, explore history at the Timehouse Museum and visit Dartmoor National Park, a hotspot for cycling, walking and trips through abbeys.
The historic market town of Dorchester is the county town of Dorset. Dorchester is a great place to spend Christmas with beautifully decorated shops, Georgian houses, huge museums and idyllic walks. Take your kids to the Dorset Teddy bear Museum for a Teddy Bear Christmas where large-sized bears celebrate Christmas with sounds, lights, smells and of course, a visit from Bearfather Christmas.
The modern café on Trinity Street is where you’ll enjoy the Christmas Pudding nights at Taste. The annual late night shopping event, Dorchester’s Christmas Cracker, isn’t an event to miss. That’s not all, most of the manors and castles have an itinerary of events during Christmas. Top places to visit include Maiden Castle and Max Gate.
Christmas is the best time to visit Max Gate with delicious yuletide treats in the kitchen, readings of Hardy’s charismas poetry and musical performances, traditional Victorian décor including the chance to make your own Christmas cards and Christmas crafts for kids.
Clifton village is one of the most gorgeous areas in Bristol, designed with majestic homes, independent shops and brimming with lots of activities in Christmas.
It never disappoints with events such as the big Christmas tree switch in November, where the biggest Christmas tree in the south-west takes residence in the Mall Gardens for 8 weeks. The beautiful shops and boutique glow with amazing decorations, fairy lights and dozens of Christmas trees lining the streets.
Start your visit with a trip to see the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, a distinctive symbol of the city since the 1864 when it was opened to the public. Treat yourself to a personal day at The Lido in Clifton, one of the oldest in the UK. It features amenities like a heated swimming pool, sauna, spa tearoom, steam room, terrace building and poolside restaurants.
Head over to Bath for an idyllic Christmas break. Soak up the smells, sights and sounds as you wander through the historic town in Christmas. The smell of freshly baked pies and aroma of mulled wine fills your nostrils when you walk along the streets. The charm of the city, Christmas lights on windows and Christmas markets where you can shop until you drop, makes for a magical scene.
The award-winning Bath Christmas Market is one of the major highlights every year featuring over 200 twinkling chalets lining the Georgian streets, local Christmas gifts and handmade crafts. Longleat is beautiful at Christmas with a Santa express train, giant singing Christmas tree and best of all, the Festival of Light when the skies are alive with huge Chinese lanterns.
Other attractions include the Thermae Bath Spa, a great way to relax in the midst of Christmas shopping and a visit to the Theatre Royal to watch Jack at the Beanstalk, the annual pantos.
The country home of the D’Oyly Carte family is the perfect place to experience the Jazz Age. Built in the Arts & Crafts style of the 20s, the joyful atmosphere and Christmas carols fills the rooms, alongside carols, canapes and cocktails. This was where Rupert and Dorothy D’Oyly Carte could entertain guests in style and indulge their passion for the outdoors.
The décor of the house features a minimalist design seen in the use of strong accent colours, pale rooms and a lack of adornment. Dress in your favourite 1920s costume as the Butler welcomes you with cocktails when you step into Christmas at the Coleton Fishacre house.
The South West of England is a magical area to visit in Christmas. Take a drive to Stonehenge, a ditch from the Neolithic period and rumoured to be one of the oldest edifices in the world. The Roman Baths is a magnificent bathhouse you simply have to experience. Tyntesfield host several events during Christmas, filled with dancing, games and festive story telling.