While we're fans of the UK at any time of year, it's a particularly magical place to be during the winter and holiday season. Between the lights displays, the cosy old buildings, the bustling Christmas markets, and the possibility of snow on some of the prettiest landscapes you'll find anywhere, we can't think of any place we'd rather be for the holidays.
Don't believe us? The photos below ought to convince you…
Christmas in the Shambles
The Shambles has been called the UK's most beautiful street, and it's not hard to see why. It's a magical little stretch of road on even the darkest, gloomiest, and most crowded days, but when the tourists leave and holiday lights shine brightly, you'll feel like you're inside a fairy tale.
You can find this street in York, a walled city in North Yorkshire.
Christmas in Cardiff
Whether you're spending the holiday season in one of the UK's small villages or big cities, you're bound to find some Christmas cheer. This scene is in Cardiff, Wales. It's the largest city in Wales, and the eleventh-largest city in the UK overall.
Due to the fact that the UK's climate is relatively mild (especially compared to cold parts of the US or Canada), Christmas doesn't necessarily mean snow – but it ALWAYS means lights and festivities.
A Dickensian Christmas
Given that England was home to Charles Dickens, it should come as no surprise that the are multiple Dickensian Christmas festivals each year. One of the larger events is the Dickensian Christmas event in Rochester, Kent. This celebration of Victorian delights features lamp-lit parades, old-fashioned Christmas carols, and costumes galore. Roughly one month prior to the event, you can expect a costume sale to help get everyone outfitted in plenty of time.
Real, Free-Roaming Reindeer!
Scotland is home to Britain's only herd of free-ranging reindeer, and you can find them in the Cairngorms. These deer are specifically suited to the cold, damp weather, with furry noses, hairy feet, and hollow fur to help insulate them. What could be more Christmas-y than real, live, wild-roaming reindeer?
The Beautiful City of Oxford
Though it doesn't happen every year, a fresh blanket of snow is perhaps the only way to improve upon the lovely, academic city of Oxford. By that time, the majority of tourists are long gone, and many students will have gone home for the holidays. When the snow does arrive, it insulates and quiets those few remaining sounds, giving one the distinct feeling of being inside a picture-perfect snowglobe.
London's Holiday Lights
Each year, dozens of locations around London go all-out in creating over-the-top Christmas displays. The image above features London's Oxford Street because it's probably the most famous lights display in the city. There are loads of places to see more, though. Check out our post on The Best Places to See Christmas Lights in London for more.
Christmas on the Canals
Even narrowboats get into the holiday spirit, as you can see by the photo above. This narrowboat is actually a floating barbershop that constantly cruises the rivers and canals of central London. You can follow The Floating Barber Shop on Instagram here. It sounds like a fun and quirky concept, though I'm not sure I'd trust them to do a straight razor shave on a floating vessel 🙂
Edinburgh Becomes a Magical Christmas Wonderland
There are wonderful Christmas markets all over the UK, but the one in Edinburgh is truly a sight to behold. That's probably why it brings an estimated 113 million GBP to the capital each year – attracting nearly a million visitors during the 6 weeks it's open. The event features lights, food, drink, games, rides, shows, and market stalls, among other activities.
A Stroll Down a Country Lane in Wales
Can't you just imagine yourself taking a stroll down a country lane like this one, then racing inside to warm up with a hot cup of tea or mug of cocoa?
Red Phone Boxes Look Amazing with a Dusting of Snow
In a country with more than its fair share of gloomy, gray days, red phone boxes provide a much-needed pop of colour on the landscape. That colour is even more noticeable and lovely when the landscape is snowy white. The phone boxes end up looking like giant candy canes.
Quiet Winter Walks in Bath
Again, snow is never guaranteed in the UK – especially Southern England – but when it does happen, it's lovely. This image comes from Bath, England.
Seaside Cornwall is Even More Charming with Holiday Lights
Cosy seaside villages become holiday wonderlands in their own right during the winter season, with many hosting boat parades and filling their narrow streets with lights. Some villages and towns even have decorated lighthouses. The image above is from St. Ives, Cornwall.
Nature Makes its Own Holiday Lights in Scotland
In Scotland (and occasionally parts of England and Wales), you can sometimes get a clear view of the Northern Lights during winter months. They're most easily viewed at more northern locations free of light pollution – so that makes the Scottish Highlands and islands great places to spot them.
Brighton's Clock Tower is Festive
It's hard to believe there's a snowy scene like that, and not a single man in town is under that canopy of lights doing something terribly romantic – how could you resist?
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