The best British Christmas events 2017

Windsor Castle at Christmas. Credit: Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017/Todd-White Art Photography/Ben Fitzpatrick

The countdown is on, if you want to get in the festive mood, then add one of these traditional British Christmas celebrations to your calendar

A Christmas Carol at Windsor Castle

On select dates from 16 December 2017 to 4 January 2018, you can take part in an immersive performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Queen’s ‘Weekend home’ of Windsor Castle

The Christmas tree in St George’s Hall, Windsor Castle. Britsih Christmas celebrations 2017
The Christmas tree in St George’s Hall, Windsor Castle. Credit: Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017/Todd-White Art Photography/Ben Fitzpatrick

Guests will step back in time to a Victorian Christmas and accompany Ebenezer Scrooge from the castle gates to the regal Waterloo Chamber and St George’s Hall, meeting other characters along the way. Much of the action in the production by Watch Your head in collaboration with the Royal Collection Trust will take place in the state apartments where the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret once performed Christmas pantomimes as youngsters.

Buy a Christmas Carol tickets

Carol-singing at St Paul’s Cathedral

What could be more memorable than singing carols beneath the famous dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in London? The carol services in December (as well as Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve), are open to the public, with seats allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Christmas carol service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Credit: Guy Corbishley/Alamy Live News

Be warned though, queues do form early. This year for the first time, a couple of the events are ticketed (although still free, with the option to make a donation), including a performance of Handel’s Messiah on 6 December and the popular A Celebration of Christmas on 14 December.

Find out more about St Paul’s carol services.

Christmas at Kew

Each year Kew Gardens in west London are transformed into an enchanted wonderland including an illuminated trail with as many as a million twinkling lights.

Highlights this year (22 November 2017-1 January 2018) include a glowing Sledge Tree as well as a chorus of Singing Trees, while a spectacular light and sound show will take place over the glistening lake and guests can warm up in the Fire Garden.

Christmas at Kew light show. Credit: RGB
Christmas at Kew light show. Credit: RGB

To the delight of little ones, Santa Claus and his Elves will be there to take present requests and there will be roasted chestnuts, marshmallows (and mulled cider for the adults) along the trail.

The grand finale will take place at the Palm House where there will be a laser light show and kaleidoscopic projections played out against the glasshouse and a giant water screen.

Buy tickets for Christmas at Kew 

Christmas at York Museum Gardens | best Christmas events Britain 2017
Christmas at York Museum Gardens

Christmas in York

This winter, the medieval grounds of York Museum Gardens will be transformed into an after-dark festive playground for the first time.

Opening on 16 November and running until 1 January 2018 from 4.45pm-9.30pm daily, visitors to the 10 acres of gardens in the middle of the historic city will wind their way through a forest of singing trees, all bedecked in seasonal colours, before witnessing a spectacular projection onto one of York’s best kept secrets, the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.

The magical experience has been envisaged by the team behind Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, together with THOR’S Tipi Bar and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, world-leading producers of promoting and producing popular classical music, opera, ballet and events.

Guests will end their experience on the Library Lawn where they can tuck into traditional Christmas treats such as mulled wine, hot chocolate and spiced cider, alongside toasted marshmallows.

Book tickets for Christmas at York Museum Gardens

Christmas carols at Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall at Christmas, Peak District, Tudor manor house. Traditional British Christmas events 2017
Enjoy the historic setting of Haddon Hall this Christmas. Credit: Ian Daisley

This Christmas (1-20 December), step back in time at this stunning Tudor country house in the Peak District as some of the most striking historic rooms are decorated to represent different carols. Against a backdrop of roaring fires, twinkling lights and festive garlands, visitors can see (and hear) interpretations of classic carols such as In the Bleak Midwinter and The Holly and the Ivy as well as join in candlelit tours and browse the artisan market (17-19 November).

Book tickets for Christmas at Haddon Hall

Go ice-skating in Edinburgh

This year once again St Andrew Square in Edinburgh’s New Town will host its annual ice skating rink. The circular rink is particularly special in that it allows you to skate all the way around the fluted Melville Monument – a lofty commemoration to Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, the most influential Scottish politician of the mid 18th century.

There is also a bar to purchase some winter warmers.

Book tickets for ice skating at St Andrew Square