If you’re tired of relying on a much-maligned TV schedule and the usual boardgames to keep you entertained over the festive season, why not consider going on a Christmas break that includes more varied activities and entertainment?
Dozens of hotels offer packages over the Christmas period, complete with various forms of entertainment, ranging from carol singing and midnight mass to holiday-themed quizzes and spa treatments.
There’ll be plenty of free time too, which you can spend wandering around the thatched cottages and gentle streams of the Cotswolds, or hiking up Ben Nevis if you’d prefer a stay in Fort William.
Alternatively, visit Finland for some Northern Lights spotting and a mix of classic winter activities, or go the other way and spend Christmas on the sun-drenched sands of a Lanzarote beach.
Whatever your preference, there’s an abundance of entertaining, activity-filled hotels waiting to welcome you this Christmas. Here’s a selection of the best.
One of the UK’s most beloved regions is a beautiful place to spend Christmas. Filled with characterful market towns, scenic walking trails and honey-hued villages, the Cotswolds is an alluring countryside destination that provides a peaceful Christmas retreat. With Warner Leisure hotels, you can stay at the magnificent 18th-century Heythrop Park, close to the charming town of Chipping Norton, for a great blend of relaxation and entertainment.
A four-night stay here starts on Christmas Eve with a mince pie and drink on arrival, leading on to dinner in the evening. Christmas starts with bucks fizz and breakfast, with a long lunch and more relaxed dinner at night. There’s festive entertainment and activities throughout, from tribute acts and dance workshops to themed quizzes and various sports, with additional access to the pool, sauna and leisure facilities.
From £979pp including four nights’ accommodation, meals and drinks and all mentioned activities. Spa treatments and other additional extras, such as afternoon tea, can be added at checkout.
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Fort William, Scotland
Fort William sits on the shores of Loch Linnhe in the Scottish Highlands, acting as a gateway to Ben Nevis for would-be climbers. Though the main activity here is an ascent up the UK’s highest peak, there are other natural sites to explore, offering dozens of more relaxed walking trails, cycling routes and even ski runs at the nearby Nevis Range Mountain Resort. Morning cruises run along the Loch even in December, while the Ben Nevis Distillery remains open for those wanting to try a dram or two.
For a cosy festive stay nestled among the Highlands, opt for the three-night package at the Isles of Glencoe Hotel. In addition to all your meals and a hearty Christmas Day lunch, entertainment includes live music, quizzes, cocktail making and even a Santa visit for kids. Guests also get free access to the spa and pool facilities, and you can bring pets for £20 per night.
From £405 per adult, including three nights’ accommodation, all meals and mentioned activities.
Where better to head for Christmas than the home of Santa Claus himself? Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, is also home to the Santa Claus Village, the ‘official home’ of Father Christmas, which is decked out in festoon lights and sparkling decorations all year round. The Christmas spirit is palpable, with reindeer, igloos and plenty of snow guaranteed, plus the added bonus of snow-based activities and the opportunity to see the Northern Lights.
Responsible Travel tailors its trips to feature the best of these activities, and its five-day ‘Best of Lapland’ trip will take guests into the heart of this winter wonderland. There are four Lights-related activities, including a snowmobile tour and a photography masterclass, as well as a visit to a reindeer farm, husky sledding, a snowshoeing excursion and time to see the Santa Claus Village.
From £1,217pp including five nights’ accommodation, all dinners, all mentioned activities and airport transfers.
Spain’s Canary Islands are the warmest destination in Europe during winter, owing to their southern location off the west coast of Morocco. On the volcanic island of Lanzarote, highs can reach around 23C in December, providing ideal weather for exploring the golden coast, active craters and charming destinations such as Arrecife, the lively main city. Natural highlights include the rugged terrain of the Timanfaya National Park, the Los Hervideros cliffs and the Jameos del Agua, an oasis-like natural space that also acts as an arts and cultural centre.
For a Christmas getaway that’ll keep parents and kids equally entertained, choose the Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel in Playa Blanca, on the far south of the island. British Airways Holidays provides a festive package to this magnificent resort, where a series of whitewashed buildings combine Mediterranean touches and Moroccan style. Guests can enjoy any of the eight restaurants, six swimming pools or the spa, while the hotel itself organises day trips and activities such as wine tours or kayaking excursions.
From £1,518pp including six nights’ accommodation, B&B, return flights from London Gatwick and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 23 December 2023.
Staffordshire may be known as the home of Alton Towers, Drayton Manor and the Potteries, but away from the theme parks – and towns such as Burton and Stafford – there’s plenty of open countryside to explore. Staffordshire has its own section of the Peak District in the northeast, and this, together with the Cannock Chase Area of Natural Beauty, provides dozens of walking trails and plenty of lovely scenery.
Such scenery is also visible in the marvellous grounds of The Tawny. Surrounded by gentle hills and placid lakes, it’s a great choice for a tranquil Christmas getaway. Your staycation begins on Christmas Eve with mulled wine and carol singers, graduating to a full three-course, a la carte evening meal with live singers before a cooked breakfast and champagne on Christmas morning. There’s plenty of time to kill before dinner at 8pm, which is followed by a Christmas movie, before a similar plan on Boxing Day, ending with evening entertainment alongside a barbecue dinner.
From £950 per night for the Boathouse, £1,010 per night for the Hillside Treehouse and £1,050 per night for the Retreat, including all meals and mentioned activities.
The New Forest is one of England’s best preserved natural areas, covering parts of both Hampshire and Wiltshire and including the eponymous New Forest National Park. It covers 566 square kilometres of untouched woodland, heathland and river valleys, making it a haven for local animals and a true walker’s paradise. There’s coastline here too, with marshland and beaches around spots like Milford-on-Sea, as well as busier towns including riverside Hythe and Lymington.
Macdonald hotels has a series of packages in locations up and down the country, and a break at the Elmers Court resort in the New Forest is a great way to spend a fun-filled festive period. Meals – from daily breakfasts to a five-course Christmas dinner and evening buffets – are taken care of by hotel staff, with evening entertainment including carol singers, bingo, a festive quiz and live acts covering all the musical hits.
From £745 per room including three nights’ accommodation, all meals and mentioned activities.
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