It’s that time of year again; when the wrapping paper comes out of the drawer, the mince pies are bought in bulk and everyone starts getting a little sick of the John Lewis advert. But Christmas should be about more than gift-related chores, unavoidable shopping and depressed penguins. This is a time to have fun with friends and family.
That’s why, when approached by holiday rental company Discovery Holiday Homes to create a series of monthly blogs for their website, we decided to start by looking at the brilliant activities available during the festive season.
So here it is – our first ever blog for Discovery Holiday Homes, focusing on fun things to do around Christmas in South East England. It’s entitled, rather imaginatively, ‘Top 10 Festive Activities in the South East this Christmas’…
TOP 10 FESTIVE ACTIVITIES IN THE SOUTH EAST THIS CHRISTMAS
Christmas in England’s South East offers a range of festive delights, from carol singing to ice-skating to pantomime. Make it a merry one with our festive round-up of Christmas activities.
1. Carols concert in St. Peter’s Church, Sandwich
‘Tis the season for a song! It’s not Christmas without carols, and there are few more atmospheric places for this perennial Christmas activity than in St. Peter’s Church in Sandwich. This Grade I-listed building is over 800 years old, but it is no longer an active site of worship and instead hosts fairs, community events and concerts, just like this one. During this afternoon carol recital, you can listen to local performers belting out a range of Christmas classics in this beautiful medieval setting.
2. Guided winter walks and festive lunches at Sissinghurst Castle, near Cranbrook
Various dates throughout December
Less than an hour’s drive from most of the South East’s seaside towns, this National Trust-run historic estate embraces the Christmas spirit with a series of events. The build-up begins in late November, with workshops focused on wreath-making and creating natural foliage decorations. The real fun kicks off in December though, with guided winter tours that take visitors into the celebrated Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, originally created by Sir Harold Nicolson and his wife Vita Sackville-West (an English poet known for her high-profile affair with Virginia Woolf). Combine a garden visit with a lunch at the on-site Granary Restaurant, where you can indulge in a selection of traditional festive dishes with all the trimmings.
3. Ice-skating at Brighton Royal Pavilion, Brighton
November 8 to January 18
Few things evoke that warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling more than ice-skating, and the Brighton Royal Pavilion might just be the prettiest rink in the South East. Glide around against the backdrop of the extravagant and exotic Royal Pavilion. With domes, minarets and oriental design influences, the pleasure palace bears a striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal. The rink and surrounding area will be peppered with festive adornments for the duration of the season, but it’s best seen after dark, when the tower is lit up spectacularly. Once you’ve completing a couple of laps, warm your mitts with a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate, and watch the rest of the revellers slipping and sliding on the ice.
4. Leeds Castle Christmas market and the Gingerbread Christmas, Maidstone
December 6 to 23
This turreted stone fortress, one of the most romantic castles in England, is given a magical makeover for the Christmas season. There’s a Christmas market out on its lawn, where you can browse the stalls for gifts or simply sip on hot chocolate and mulled wine. The castle interiors are transformed with a gingerbread theme, with edible sculptures and decorations scattered around each room, including a gingerbread diorama of the castle. Elsewhere in the vast grounds, children can embark on a ‘Gingerbread Quest’ treasure hunt. The Christmas theme even extends to the stables, where you’ll find live reindeer nibbling on hay. Other highlights include visits from Father Christmas himself, a wreath-making class and a gingerbread decorating station.
5. Pantomime at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
November 28 to January 11
The irresistible Christmas pantomime is a mainstay of the festive calendar and ‘Aladdin’ at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury promises to be one of the funniest shows in the region. Expect a hefty dose of slapstick and madcap humour and an all-star cast that includes EastEnders’ Scott Maslen, CBeebies’ Phil Gallagher and the pantomime dame of the season Ben Roddy. The show is written and directed by Paul Hendy, whose panto production company Evolution has been responsible for much of the UK’s most raucous festive fun.
Do not fret, this isn’t the end… if you want to see the remaining five activities, click here to visit the Discovery Holiday Homes website. You can keep an eye out for more Discovery Holiday Homes blogs to come, and see even more examples of our travel blog writing, on the World Words portfolio. Or you can follow us on Twitter.