With the festive season on the horizon, we’re pinpointing the top ten most popular places to spend the Christmas holidays in the UK—and the results aren’t what you might think. You’ll see familiar names like Edinburgh and London, of course, but other in-demand holiday spots (from Cornwall to the Yorkshire coast) might catch you by surprise.
Whether you’re looking to escape or embrace the Christmas crowds, holiday homes and snug cottages in these vibrant destinations have the extra space and first-rate facilities you need to make this season the most wonderful time of the year. Holiday Lettings offers tons of rental choices to suit any traveller type. Check out our list and plan a Christmas getaway to your favorite UK spot!
Edinburgh is a spectacular city year-round, but it has to be one of the world’s most magical destinations during the festive season. From winding medieval streets lit by the glow of shops open late to glittering outdoor ice rinks crowded with skaters after sunset, there’s no shortage of Christmas spirit in Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh’s Christmas—a six-week celebration packed with shows, events and attractions—runs from mid-November to the epic Hogmanay celebration in January. Explore the Old Town or wander through the Christmas market along East Princes Street Gardens before enjoying afternoon tea in The Dome’s Georgian Tea Room (a proper excuse to glimpse the lavish decorations inside).
You might know Tattershall for its historic castle, but it’s also a fabulously festive setting to toast the season. Book a snug log lodge in Tattershall Lakes Country Park and head to Lincoln, about 20 miles away, for Yuletide attractions like the Lincoln Craft Market, outdoor ice skating, and carol concerts at the Lincoln Cathedral. Planning a trip at the end of November? Don’t miss Tattershall Castle’s annual Christmas market, where you can pick up unique handmade gifts from local craftspeople.
Christmastime in London is nothing short of luminous. The streets are dazzling, department stores are dressed up to the nines and nothing will take your breath away quite like the giant Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. ‘Tis the season to enjoy the illuminated displays at Kew Gardens, drink mulled wine at the Southbank Centre Christmas Market, and struggle to stay upright on the ice rink at Somerset House. Since the crowds are more subdued on Christmas Day, the holiday can be a beautiful time to explore the city; there’s no public transport, but several pubs and restaurants are open, and you can still book a river cruise or walking tour.
When you think of the Christmas holidays, the first word that comes to mind probably isn’t ‘seaside,’ but Whitby—one of the Yorkshire Coast’s most intriguing getaway spots—isn’t just a summertime destination. In addition to more conventional festivities (including a Christmas carvery, carol concerts, and performances of The Nutcracker), Whitby residents also mark the season with quirkier traditions like the Boxing Day Dip, a costume competition and icy swim to raise money for charity.
Need a simple way to get into the holiday spirit? Attend the York Christmas Festival, a celebration that draws more visitors every year with exciting shows, epic ice sculptures, and even artificial snow (because ambiance is everything). Purchase last-minute gifts at St. Nicholas Fair, where you’ll find vendors selling unique wares, mulled wine, and roasted chestnuts. And when you’re ready to escape the bustling streets, visit Castle Howard—a historic country house just outside York—for a tour and afternoon tea. The traditional decorations (featuring foliage, fruit, candles, and garlands) are straight out of a story book.
Imagine curling up in a cosy seaside cottage and falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves. That’s a small taste of what celebrating Christmas in Cornwall is like, and if you’re searching for a peaceful place to escape the crowds this season, look no further. With its winding coastal trails and brilliant sunsets over rugged cliffs, Newquay is just the destination for laid-back festivities set against a stunning backdrop. Pack your cold-weather gear and stroll along Fistral Beach before Christmas dinner; you might even spot a couple of hardcore surfers catching winter waves.
Bundle up! The great outdoors awaits in Aviemore, a strikingly beautiful town in Cairngorms National Park. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more scenic place to spend the Christmas holidays, and there’s no shortage of snowsports or walking routes to keep you busy (and a bit out of breath). If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you might find one here—but even without a dusting of snow, the atmosphere in Aviemore is still merry and bright. The town’s annual Christmas Eve Parade, which features Santa and his lovable team of Cairngorm reindeer, concludes with mince pies and fireworks at the Cairngorm Hotel.
For a quiet Christmas celebration by the sea, book a coastal cottage in Filey, a charming resort town known for its beaches, fishing heritage, and Edwardian architecture. Birdwatchers will be pleased to discover that Filey Beach is a hot spot for waders (an unusual sight, especially at this time of year). Although snow is unlikely, you can still build a snowman out of sand on the beach or just take a stroll along the coastline before retreating to the warmth of your rental for a glass of hot spiced mulled wine.
When winter arrives in this seaside town, it ushers in the kind of crisp, cold weather that perfectly complements pub food by a roaring fire. As snug as your rental might be, though, the beautiful scenery makes bundling up worthwhile; the Cinder Track, which runs from Scarborough to Whitby, is a lovely route for a brisk winter bike ride. About 30 miles south of town, Burton Agnes Hall—a manor house that might make you think of Downton Abbey—features rooms decorated for Christmas in the traditional Elizabethan and Jacobean styles.
If the thing you love most about Christmas is the food, then you’ll be smitten with the seasonal festivities in Padstow, a charming Cornish fishing village. The Padstow Christmas Festival features big flavours and even bigger personalities, why explains why the event draws more than 40,000 people each year. Expect colourful cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs and a Christmas market selling goods from local producers. The entire celebration wraps up with a carol service at St Petroc’s church.
Popularity ranking reflects the total number of bookings on Holiday Lettings for stays between 18 December 2016 and 7 January 2017.