Hopefully, you’re not mourning the loss of the summer heatwave. You shouldn’t be, because winter has charm and enjoyment all of its own, especially here in the UK! We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas markets and other winter wonderlands. With cosy cabin retreats and luxury pampering hotels, there’s no reason to let the winter blues catch you.
Take a look through our guide of the best winter staycation locations!
Winter in Belfast
Game of Thrones Tours
Winter is most definitely here. Whether you’re an avid fan of the world-engrossing Game of Thrones series, or you just want to see some the most spectacular and beautiful sights Belfast has to offer, you can’t miss the Game of Thrones Tours.
There are two amazing routes to pick from:
- Belfast Winterfell Locations Trek — If you’re a loyal follower of the King in the North, then this route is for you. You’ll see sets and settings for scenes from Robb’s Camp to the fateful spot where the Starks found their Direwolf Pups.
- Belfast Iron Islands, Giant’s Causeway, and Rope Bridge Adventure — this route will see you cover everything in its title, as well as settings used for Arya in Braavos and the Red Lady’s Cave. Plus, you’ll get to explore the natural formation of The Dark Hedges. These beech trees were planted in the 18th century, and form a beautifully haunting tunnel. It is even said that the famous Grey Lady wanders through the road…
17th November – 22nd December
Set in front of the amazing silhouette of the Belfast City Hall, the city’s Christmas market is a sight to behold. The outdoor food court means you can sit down for a while and relish in some of the best foods of the continent, from speciality cheeses to a hog roast! Plus, Santa’s got a busy schedule this year, as he’ll be hosting a Santa’s Grotto in Belfast as well as Edinburgh.
Where to stay
Jury’s Inn, Great Victoria Street
Jury’s Inn is the best place to warm up in after a day out in the winter’s chill. Plus, if you’re heading out for the Game of Thrones Tours, the coach arrives outside this hotel at 8:15am. The Christmas markets are just a five minute walk away too, so you’re in the best position for seeing all the sights!
Upgrade your whole stay with the Superior Package at Jury’s Inn, featuring:
- Air conditioning
- Complimentary mineral water and biscuits
- 10% lunch and dinner discount
- Daily complimentary Costa coffee per guest
Price: Double Room with Superior Package from £283.50* for 2 adults for 2 nights.
Winter away from the city
Christmas crowds and electric atmosphere just isn’t magical for some people. If your idea of a Christmas staycation is to stay away from the loud noises and crowds of people, why not seek refuge in one of the many amazing forests in the UK?
Hide away from it all and enjoy the snug warmth of a wood cabin. Stroll through the winter morning in a lush forest but be prepared for the unpredictable winter weather with a clear umbrella so you don’t spoil your views. Unwind with a Christmas dinner without sweating in the kitchen. Forest Holidays even offers a real Christmas tree with lights in your cabin if you stay over the Christmas period, between 21st-31st December, complete with a decoration crafting kit. Plus, you’ll find all the entertainment of the busy city within the quiet getaway of the forest, with a visit from Santa and carollers.
Then again, if you wanted to bring a little summer vibe to your secluded cabin, there’s always the hot tub option…
Prices: For Thorpe Forest, prices for 2 adults sharing 1 bedroom at Golden Oak Hideaway for 3 nights start at £695.00*. Please note there are a number of locations available up and down the UK.
Winter in Edinburgh
Christmas markets – 17th November – 5th January
In 2017, Edinburgh was voted to have the best Christmas Market in the UK, so come along and find out why! Even the most hardened of Scrooges can’t help but warm up to the multitude of food and drinks stalls. Plus, the beautiful range of local and homemade gifts are sure to light up anyone’s Christmas Day.
There’s so much more going on than just stalls too. You certainly won’t get bored as Edinburgh sets out an exciting array of rides, such as the Forth 1 Big Wheel and the Star Flyer! And, of course, Santa will be visiting the market when Santa’s Grotto opens from 10:30am on 17th November.
Edinburgh Zoo’s Chinese Lanterns – 16th November – 17th February
When the animals sleep, the lights come out to play at Edinburgh Zoo. You might be surprised to see a few new ‘animals’ staying at the zoo, with unicorns and the centaur-like Nuckelavee taking up residence! Alongside many other myths and legends, they’ll light your way along the route as you explore the Giant Lanterns of China! There’re over 450 handmade Chinese lanterns glowing through the route. Plus, you can stay warm and toasty as you go through, with a marketplace on offer serving hot drinks and snacks.
Where to stay
Cairn Hotel Edinburgh
Cairn Hotel is close to Edinburgh Waverly Station, so it’s great for getting settled soon after your train journey. It’s just a ten minute walk from the hotel to Princes Street Gardens, where the Christmas Markets are held, and less than a 20 minute drive to Edinburgh Zoo. With free Wi-Fi in all rooms, you’ll be able to upload all your photos of the gorgeous Giant Lanterns and the festive Christmas Markets.
- En-suite bathroom
- Complimentary snacks and bottled water
- Tea and coffee making facilities
Price: Small double room from £243.00* based on 2 adults for 2 nights.
*Prices correct as of 12th November 2018