We know how tough it can be to decide on where to go to celebrate the Christmas period, so here are seven day trip options to offer some festive inspiration 

Illuminated Arboretum at the National Memorial Arboretum

Source: Ben Wareing

Walk around the illuminated trail at the National Memorial Arboretum.

1. National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire 

The iconic National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas will host Illuminated Arboretum (pictured above) from 7th - 18th December, described as a spectacular outdoor light trail which provides the perfect festive activity for groups in the region. Explore the extraordinary sensory experience after dark to discover the arboretum bathed in a new light, with new packages for 2021 also revealed for groups to include a Festive High Tea. Decadent cakes, scones, savoury treats and an assortment of festive sandwiches can be provided for groups from 3pm on their booked day, with early entry to the winter light trail available from 5pm. All groups of ten or more receive exclusive group rates and priority entry when arriving by coach.  

2. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace near Woodstock will be reimagining the story of The Nutcracker from 19th November – 2nd January 2022, with each State Room transformed with hidden surprises from the toymaker’s workshop, through the Land of Snow and into the candy-cane Kingdom of Sweets. It is described as a ‘fairytale world’ where nothing is quite as it seems, from a dashing Nutcracker Prince and an army of mice to a Sugar Plum Fairy and a music box with a difference. On top of this, you can then step outside onto a light trail with a million lights and lasers, plus some new features and seasonal sounds. A Christmas market will also run from 19th November - 19th December. 

Blenheim Palace Fire Garden

Source: Fire Garden by pa-BOOM

Step in to the Fire Garden at Blenheim Palace over the Christmas period for an extra special experience.

3. Hampton Court Palace

From 7th December - 3rd January 2022, Hampton Court Palace in Surrey will be hosting an evening light trail that is said to offer visitors a chance to explore magical lighting projections, illuminations and lanterns in a special historical setting. Inspired by the palace’s famous astronomical clock, groups can start the trail as dusk falls, revealing a wonderland of clocks, moons, planets and sundials. The twilight trail will be a separately ticketed evening event, so groups can make a real day of it by enjoying the State Apartments during the day, before a special outdoor experience in the evening.

4. Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Highlights of Waddesdon Manor’s annual Christmas event, which has a new route this year, include a light display projected onto the manor’s facade, colour-washed woodland and outdoor multisensory, interactive light features which brighten up the dark walkways. In the Coach House Gallery, visitors will also encounter light works by Leo Villarreal – the artist behind London’s Illuminated River Project. The Buckinghamshire house will stage its Christmas extravaganza from 13th November 2021 - 3rd January 2022, and a Christmas fair with street food and drink, plus hand-made gifts will be available.

Christmas fair at Waddesdon Manor

Source: National Trust, Waddesdon Manor/Hugh Mothersole

Shop for last minute gifts at Waddesdon Manor’s Christmas fair.

5. RHS Gardens, multiple locations

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced details for its annual Glow event which takes place across the gardens that the charity looks after. RHS Rosemoor in North Devon is said to feature new lighting displays along the special route which offer a special feel to the Rose Gardens, Winter Garden, Lake and Cool Garden. RHS Wisley near Woking in Surrey will also have new lighting displays, while RHS Garden Hyde Hall near Chelmsford in Essex will boast an extended run of dates across the season and a longer route to cover the Australia and New Zealand Garden. 

6. Castle Howard, Yorkshire

The Christmas team at the site near York are going all out this year, transforming the house into the wintry, magical land of Narnia. Visitors will journey through the grand state rooms and experience installations based on scenes from the epic stories. And, of course, the 26-foot Christmas tree will once again adorn the Great Hall, ladened with more than 3,000 decorations. This year is set to be Castle Howard’s biggest festival celebration yet, with the house opening for even longer, Saturday 13th November 2021 - Monday 3rd January 2022 with more tickets available into the evening, so visitors can enjoy the stunning Christmas displays, lighting effects and decorations as dusk falls.

Castle Howard at Christmas

Grab a picture with your group in front of the 26-foot Christmas tree at Castle Howard.

7. Winter Wonderland, London

No visit to London throughout the season is complete without a stop-off at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Located in the heart of London in Hyde Park, groups can immerse themselves in all things festive, running from 19th November - 3rd January 2022. With an array of attractions, activities and entertainment for visitors of all ages, there really is something for everyone, plus it’s free to enter making it perfect for groups who want to soak up the atmosphere on a budget. The site has over 100 rides and attractions, thrilling shows, London’s biggest Christmas Market plus Santa Land – a whole area dedicated to little ones, where you’ll also find Santa in his grotto.