The “C” word – for the first time this December it means something other than Christmas but here at the Ladies Countryside Community, we’re not going to let it stop us from making happy memories this month.
While there are still restrictions on events and travel in tier 3* (we hope that will change very soon for our rural areas), there are still wonderful ways to get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the festive season in 2020 across the country.
We’ve pulled together a few ideas for you and make sure you look for more opportunities like these close to home.
Christmas would not be complete without a visit to Father Christmas, a peek at the elves at work and a hot cup of cocoa. Attractions up and down the country have come up with brilliant and innovative ways to visit Father Christmas this year. Here’s our pick.
Lotherton in West Yorkshire (Tier 3) has moved Father Christmas to the Elf Village which has plenty of space outdoors for a socially distant Christmas experience, with a 12-days of Christmas woodland walk and the house lit up for beautiful festive photo opportunities. Prices start from £4.15 per person.
Santa will be returning to Sacrewell near Peterborough (Tier 2) from 12th December where he’ll welcome visitors to the Farmhouse before they head to his Christmas Village to collect their present down the present shoot and see the elves at work. Prices start from £9 per child.
And one for the whole family – The Bedruthan Hotel in Cornwall (Tier 1) is offering a relaxing overnight stay at the hotel with breakfast and a visit to Father Christmas with spa facilities also available (for adults only) and a swimming pool for everyone to enjoy. Prices from £149.
Cosy up with popcorn, a hot chocolate and a blanket to watch a classic Christmas film… without even having to leave your car.
Drive-in movies have become increasingly popular in the run-up to Christmas, with titles such as Elf, A Wonderful Life and Love Actually hitting the big screen again for a short time only. While we can’t go and have the full cinema experience at the moment, we’ve pulled together some great drive-in experiences for you to book.
The Luna Drive-in Cinema at Ascot (Tier 2) takes place from 9th – 21st December and is showing ALL the Christmas and feel-good classics, such as Home Alone, Die Hard and The Greatest Showman. They’re even showing a triple of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man for younger families. And in traditional drive-in style, delicious food and drink is available to order and will be delivered to you by waiters and waitresses on roller skates and scooters. Tickets from £29.50 per car.
Norfolk Showground (Tier 2) will be hosting a six-day cinema and pantomime Pop-up Picturesevent from 17th – 22nd December. Watch family-favourite Christmas movies or a real-life panto – Jack and the Beanstalk – from the comfort of your car. They’re priced £27.50 per car.
Scotland’s original drive-in is back on the shores of Loch Lomond for 2020 from the 18th – 27th December. Itison Drive-in Movies will show Christmas classics, Boxing Day favourites and sing-along sessions with everything from Jurassic Park to Frozen. Prices £32 per vehicle.
There’s nothing more festive than a Christmas light display and over the last couple of years, they have become an attraction in their own right.
From driving laps at Silverstone to festival of wonder, this year is no exception.
Lap Land at Silverstone (Tier 2) opens on 10th December with a laser and light show driving experience around the infamous Formula 1 track. Once you’ve completed your lap you can watch The Snowman in the comfort of your own car before hitting the road home. The experience will run through until 3rd January and is priced from £35 per car (£15 extra for The Snowman).
Belton House National Trust in Lincolnshire (Tier 3) is welcoming visitors back to its Christmas at Belton Experience throughout December. At dusk, the parkland is filled with hundreds of thousands of twinkly lights which create a dazzling experience for visitors. Prices start from £13.50 (under 3 free) and NT members get free parking.
The Trentham Estate near Stoke-on-Trent (Tier 3) presents Fairy Lights, an illuminated garden experience starting on Friday 11th December ad running on select dates through to the new year. They’ll be lighting up their fairies, Perseus and other treasures in the garden. Tickets from £6.
Devonshire County Christmas Market at Westpoint Exeter (Tier 2) offers a plethora of traders for all your Christmas shopping needs from 11th – 13th December, along with music, food and a socially-distanced visit to Father Christmas. Adults £5, children (under 16) £2.50 and seniors £3.
Bawdon Lodge Farm in Leicestershire (Tier 3) is hosting a pop-up Chrstmas shop and experience between now and the big day. Stock up on Burleigh’s gin (distilled on the farm) as well as other festive favourites, enjoy a woodland walk on the farm and wave to Father Christmas in his sleigh. Entry is free.
The Christmas Fair at Waddeston Manor National Trust in Bucks (Tier 2) is set against the backdrop of the manor and its 20-foot Christmas trees. With ample space outside for visitors, browse a gorgeous selection of traditional Christmas market stalls filled with festive fayre and gorgeous gifts every day until December 23rd. Adult tickets from £16 for non-members and £5 for NT members.
Winter walks are a wonderful way of creating some Christmas magic – especially if you’re lucky enough to choose a day with a sprinkling of snow on the ground or a hard frost to crunch through.
Here are a few of our favourite spots.
The grounds of Burghley House in Peterborough (Tier 2) are open to the public and are in view of the gothic towers of the house. See deer roaming through the estate, go off the beaten path or take a stroll into the pretty Georgian town of Stamford, Lincs (Tier 3). Parking free.
A bracing beach walk in Northumberland is sure to blow away the cobwebs and leave you feeling refreshed by the spray of the waves rolling in from the North Sea. Bamburgh Castle (Tier 3) is a dramatic backdrop for walkers on the coast this winter.
There’s no denying that Snowdonia in North Wales has some of the most stunning views in the country and while we don’t recommend attempting to scale Mount Snowdon in the winter unless you’re a seasoned climber, the area still has plenty to offer a winter wanderer.
* Please check the travel restrictions for your area before travelling into another tier.
LCC Rural Travel Writer
Megan is the founder of Rural Roots Media and the Rural Travel Guide. She helps rural tourism businesses to navigate the media and tell their stories. Specialists in tourism, food and farm diversification - promoting everything from castles to campsites and farm to fork - but also work alongside some incredible product-based business that are helping to put rural Britain on the map.