As Christmas approaches, towns and cities worldwide get ready to turn on the holiday charm. Here are 11 of the most magical Christmas towns in the UK and Ireland.
The days are getting shorter and there is a chill in the air. This can mean only one thing: Christmas is coming! As lights go up and festive decorations adorn shop fronts, cities everywhere are transformed in winter wonderlands.
If your feet are itching to travel somewhere with the perfect amount of Christmas cheer, here are eleven destinations in the UK and Ireland that will do the trick.
London pulls out all the stops when it comes to Christmas. The switching on of Oxford Street’s lights is one of the year’s biggest events and is invariably hosted by well-known celebrities. If the Oxford Street lights pique your appetite for Christmas lights, nearby Carnaby Street and Covent Garden have some sensational displays for your pleasure.
There are few places that feel as festive as Edinburgh come Christmas time. The Scottish capital lights up as the temperature drops and through your frozen breath, you’ll be able to take in all the beauty the city has to offer. Christmas markets sprawl out through the city center, while Santa’s Grotto pops up on George Street.
Switching on the Christmas lights is always a big deal in Belfast. Carol singing and other festive performances get the crowd warmed up before the City Hall lights up and steals the show. Once the lights are on and the crowd has dispersed, wander over to the Belfast Christmas market and enjoy some mouth-watering food while you shop for trinkets and gifts.
One of Europe’s hottest party capitals, Dublin cools down throughout the holiday season and offers a range of fun and wholesome festive goodies. Ice skating in Blanchardstown is always a big hit, but be sure to book in advance as tickets sell out fast. Another favorite is the Noel carol concert in Christ Church Cathedral.
Galway might not be the first place you think of when you conjure images of magical Christmas towns, but this Irish gem packs a punch. From mid-November, Eyre Square at the heart of the city is taken over by dozens of wooden chalets, forming a magnificent Christmas market. Lights decorate the entire city and there is no shortage of mulled wine in Galway’s numerous bars and pubs.
The only UNESCO World Heritage-listed city in England, Bath is among the most beautiful cities in the world – but at Christmas it outdoes itself. One major event in the area is the Longleat Festival of Light, which sees Longleat House lit up with dancing lights while other decorations adorn the grounds. Meanwhile, ice skaters head to Royal Victoria Park to hit the rink while shoppers explore the renowned Bath Christmas Market in the city center.
Once again, Ireland takes the limelight and this time it is all kicking off in Limerick. Over in the Dreamland Fun Centre, Santa awaits excited children while the city center is bedazzled with sparkling lights and Christmas markets. If you’re lucky, you might even get some snow to complete the experience.
The Waterfront Winter Wonderland is the only place you need to be this Christmas if you’re heading to Swansea. This magical Christmas utopia has everything you could want: from fairground rides to Christmas market stalls. There’s even an ice rink! And, of course, the whole place is covered in twinkling lights.
Perhaps one of the most historic cities in the UK, Cambridge comes to life over the Christmas period. Parker’s Piece, in the city center, is transformed into the North Pole, boasting a skating rink and plenty of chalets serving up mulled drinks and mince pies. Over in the Old Court Room, Santa sets up his grotto and in the Market Square crowds gather to watch the lights switch on.
What could be more Christmassy than a good old pantomime? The Theatre Royale in Nottingham will host a Peter Pan pantomime this year – with a festive twist, of course. If that wasn’t enough entertainment, there will be a screening of Love Actually at the Royal Concert Hall accompanied by a live orchestra playing the score.
11. Aberdeen, Scotland
Last, but not least, we head back up to Scotland for some festivities in Aberdeen. The first stop on your itinerary should be the city’s magical Christmas Village, which is kitted out with market stalls, food vendors and lights galore. Next head over to the David Welch Winter Gardens for a Christmas carol concert to complete the festive experience.