Christmas in the United Kingdom
Christmas in the UK is no small affair. You'll spot twinkling lights decorating houses in November, wander through Christmas markets and may even see advent calendars for sale before the Halloween costumes have sold out. We're a nation that truly adores the festive season and there are plenty of ways you can join in on the fun.
The Christmas tree, one of the most beloved decorations, was first brought to Britain in the 1840s when Queen Victoria's German-born husband Prince Albert introduced the custom that had be traditional in his homeland since the 16th Century. Pay a visit to Windsor Castle this year and you'll spot a 20ft Nordmann Fir tree, decorated in sparkling gold and silver tinsel, standing proudly in St. George's Hall. If you still want to indulge in a Royal Christmas, head down to Windsor Castle's Festive Weekend on the 10th and 11th December. You'll join carollers singing classic Christmas anthems, try your hand at making your own decorations, browse market stalls for last minute gifts and experience a pop-up pantomime all within the grounds of the magnificent castle.
For those who'd rather journey back in time to celebrate Christmas in Queen Victoria's style, check out Liverpool's Speke Hall from the 3rd - 11th December as it recreates a traditional Victorian Christmas. Learn how to make sugar mice, sing-a-long to festive carols and even visit Father Christmas in his grotto.
If you're willing to travel a little further, head to Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire from the 2nd - 18th December, where you'll experience Yuletide Celebrations at this spectacular Tudor House.
But before we get carried away with all these homely festivities, there are many wintery gardens itching to be explored. Start at the spectacular Waddesdon Manor, whose gardens have been transformed into a bewitching field of light by renowned artist Bruce Munro. Watch as Waddesdon's stunning grounds are lit up with the glow of 9,000 colourful lights.
Stick around to see Dazzle@Waddesdon, that takes place every 15 minutes after nightfall, and witness Waddesdon Manor illuminated in an extraordinary four-minute light show created by the legendary lighting designers Woodroffe Bassett.
If you'd prefer to embark on a Christmassy walk, bring the family along to Hinton Ampner's Family Christmas Trail and wander through a real-life advent calendar hunting for boxes filled with gifts. Or head to Cliveden's Pantomime Trail where you'll get your hands dirty exploring Cinderella's kitchen and encounter the many wonders of Aladdin's cave. For those seeking something truly traditional, don't miss the Royal Horticultural Society's A Christmas Carol Story Trail, inspired by Charles Dickens' classic tale.
As the winter chill kicks in it's tempting to stay snuggled up by the fire during the cold evenings. But a night-time exploration around the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens is worth enduring any type of weather. Wander through the illuminated Fire Garden and Tunnel of Lights before trekking to North Pole village where you'll find Santa and his elves.
Whether you want to experience Christmas in a castle or take a wintery stroll through illuminated gardens, you're sure to find something magical to capture the festive spirit.