The distinct chill in the air signals that winter is underway, but fear not as this is the season that British attractions get really creative; think pop-up ice rinks, authentic Christmas markets, snow-topped castles, invigorating countryside walks and TV-themed tours. The winter fun starts here!
Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff, Wales
As we eagerly await the BBC 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Special, fans of the daleks, cybermen and of course, the doctor himself can console themselves with the awesome Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. The interactive journey allows fans (and all those dragged along) a pretty special adventure where you help the doctor to solve mysteries, navigate the Tardis and of course get up close to some really freaky monsters!
Eden Project, Cornwall
The iconic biomes of the Eden Project are the perfect day out all year round, with the giant biomes housing a vast undercover rainforest and Mediterranean garden. And winter is extra magical as Santa Claus pops in (23 Nov to 23 Dec), the annual winter festival is underway and a pop-up ice rink is attracting skaters of all abilities. The winter festival celebrates all things Christmas, including real reindeer, lantern parades, craft workshops, fire sculptures, storytelling and of course some tasty festive food. And the ice rink beckons beneath its very own dome – which is a bonus, British weather being what it is! There’s no excuse for all the family not to get involved with beginner sessions and lively ice discos!
Alton Towers, Staffordshire
High octane Alton Towers positively revels in winter! Besides the heart-in-the-mouth rollercoasters, there are a whole host of special winter and Christmas themed events this season, from Santa Sleepovers and Santa’s Lunches. The Sleepover is the perfect way to get the festivities underway with an overnight stay which means you can hit the themepark rides and waterpark extra early – and don’t miss the opportunity to meet Santa himself. And Santa’s Lunches are the perfect day trip to get you in the spirit; enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch and enjoy the festive entertainment.
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
There’s nothing more magical at Christmas-time than a traditional castle dusted in crisp sparkling snow. And Warwick Castle in the heart of England is particularly magical this time of year. Families can explore the legend of King Arthur, witness medieval jousting and discover the wizard Merlin. November has a month-long celebration of art for all the family. And the Christmas season gets underway from 20 November, with special events including breakfast with Santa, winter torchlit tours and Christmas-themed lunches.
London Dungeon, London SE1
The drop dead scary London Dungeon is eerily festive this season and brings 1,000 years of history to life. Descend into the dungeon as you share the journey into the underwood with the lift leper! Step into the sewers that punctuate Sweeney Todd’s London; wander Mrs Lovett’s pie shop and try an 1800s hair style of for size – if you dare!
Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh
This year sees Edinburgh Zoo celebrate its 100th anniversary and with leopards, sun bears and lions in residence, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. Of course the most famous residents are the pair of giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang which arrived in December 2011. The pair, whose names translate as Sweetie and Sunshine are so popular that viewing them requires a time ticket. And for a special Christmas treat, why not visit the zoo, which is open on Christmas Day itself (weather permitting).
Kingston upon Hull
All eyes are on Hull right now with the announcement that the city will host the prestigious UK City of Culture in 2017. There’s loads to do in Hull all year round, from lively festivals, fascinating museums and a world-class aquarium. Don’t miss the world-famous Truck Theatre, admire the works from the European Old Masters on display at the Ferens Gallery and cram in as many sights within the Museums Quarter; after all, they’re free to enter!