12 wonderful winter day trips yule want to plan now

30th November 2021

As the nights draw in, check out some of our favourite day trips to get you off the sofa and into the festive spirit.

Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market

Winchester’s Christmas Market attracts over 400,000 visitors every year and is known for its historic location outside Winchester Cathedral. While you’re here, visit The Great Hall, said to be the home to Arthurs Round Table, or pop into Westgate Museum – a fortified medieval city gateway at the top of the Highstreet. Looking for a drink or bite to eat? Try The Wykeham Arms Pub, a cosy 18th century pub right next to the cathedral. Pi Pizza serves large sharing pizzas with great toppings and is only five minutes from the station.

markerWinchester Station (12-minute walk)

Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market

Photo: Winchester Cathedral

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London

It’s the biggest winter festival in the UK, running 19 November through to 3 January 2022. You can skate, browse the Christmas markets, hop on a fairground ride, see circus performers and so much more. All this means it does tend to get rather busy, so you should book in advance to secure your visit.

markerLondon Paddington Station (11-minute walk)

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Photo: Getty Images

Southbank Winter Market, London

Next stop, the Southbank Centre Winter Festival! The Southbank is magical all-year around, but we think it’s worth a special mention during the festive season. We love the idea of a browse amongst the market stalls, grabbing a mulled wine and taking a romantic stroll along the riverside with someone special.

markerLondon Waterloo Station (6-minute walk)

Southbank Winter Market

Photo: Southbank Centre © Pete Woodhead

Rochester Castle Gardens, Kent

Market stalls, live music, a craft fair and a Bavarian food village, all set amongst the historic grounds of a 12th-century castle – a trip to Rochester makes for a wonderful festive day out. On the 4 and 5 December, step back in time and head to Rochester High Street for parades and open-air carol concerts at the Dickensian Christmas Festival. We suggest donning your own Victorian costumes!

markerRochester Station (7-minute walk)

Rochester Castle Gardens

Photo: Visit Medway

Ice Cube @ Christmas, Leeds

Millenium Square will be turned into Leeds’ very own Winter Wonderland this year from 26 November, with a brrrr-illiant 400 sqm ice rink and even an Igloo Bar with live entertainment and a festive drinks menu. Round off the day with a comforting roast at The Scarborough Hotel, a traditional pub just a short stroll away from Leeds Railway Station.

markerLeeds Station (7-minute walk)

Ice Cube @ Christmas

Photo: Leeds City Council

Festive fun at Marsh Farm Adventure Park, Essex

Have you been naughty or nice this year? The big man himself is making his way all the way from Lapland to Marsh Farm Adventure Park. Featuring an Elf Academy, ice skating rink, teddy bear market and lots more. There’s even a Christmas train ride for little train-enthusiasts.

markerSouth Woodham Ferrers Station (20-minute walk)

Festive fun at Marsh Farm Adventure Park

Photo: Getty Images

Christmas magic at the zoo, Bristol

Christmas time marks a special anniversary for Bristol Zoo, with Biggie the giant tortoise having been at the zoo since 1975 on Christmas Eve (and therefore the oldest animal in the zoo). There’s fairy lights up on the terrace, a giant Christmas tree, and adventurous visitors can try out ZooRopia, a high-level ropes course suspended high above the heart of the zoo. Warm-up on your stroll with a takeaway hot chocolate from one of the zoo’s kiosks – don’t forget the cream and marshmallows!

markerClifton Down Station (10-minute walk)

Christmas magic at the zoo

Photo: Bristol Zoo Gardens

Lunch with Santa, Brighton

Who says the seaside is just for summer? We’ve heard Father Christmas is a big fan of fish and chips, and is heading to Brighton this year to make a special appearance at Brighton Pier. Why not make a day of it and do a spot of Christmas shopping at Brighton’s famous Lanes, or pay a visit to the Royal Pavilion for their ice-skating rink powered entirely by Green Energy.

markerBrighton Station (17-minute walk)

Lunch with Santa

Photo: Brighton Palace Pier

Winter Wonderland, Cardiff

Cardiff will once again be transformed into a winter wonderland this year, promising to be even bigger and better than before. Ice skate against the backdrop of Cardiff Castle before grabbing a bite to eat in the Alpine Village located at Cardiff City Hall. Ski lodge bar Sur La Piste is returning, along with a new Ice Bar at sub-zero temperatures.

markerCardiff Station (10-minute walk)

Winter Wonderland

Photo: Getty Images

Christmas lights in the capital, London

Twinkling light sculptures and immersive illumination experiences are lighting up the capital this year as part of London’s Winter Light Season, running until February 2022. Included in the festival is Borealis, a free spectacular Northern Lights show in the city of London, created by renowned artist Dan Archer.

markerLondon Bridge Station (8-minute walk)

Christmas lights in the capital

Photo: GLA © Doug Southall

Christmas at Cadbury World, Birmingham

Cadbury’s world is choc-full of activities this Christmas! Alongside all the usual attractions, there are also very special plans to invite Father Christmas for his very own stage show, as well as exciting pantomime shows for the whole family. Travel by train to save 30% off same-day admission.

markerBournville Station (13-minute walk)

Christmas at Cadbury World

Photo: Getty Images

Santa Land, Edinburgh

West Princes Street Gardens has been transformed into a magical Christmas haven for all the family, with a host of rides and attractions for all to enjoy. Visit Santa’s Grotto, the Christmas Tree Maze, a children’s market and family-friendly rides. This year’s festivities will also support Edinburgh’s Social Inclusion charity, the OneCity Trust.

markerEdinburgh Waverley (6-minute walk)

Santa Land

Photo: Getty Images

Plan your journey

Don’t forget to plan your journey and use your Railcard to save 1/3 off your rail fare for just £30 a year, a cost that can be made back in savings in just one or two journeys.