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By Parkdean Resorts on 29/11/2022

If you’re looking for the most festive ways to make this Christmas season extra merry and bright, you’re in luck. Here at Parkdean Resorts, we’ve created the UK’s ultimate festive trail, looking at the best Christmas activities which are guaranteed to have the whole family laughing all the way. Each location is ranked using TripAdvisor ratings and Google Reviews, and analyses a number of categories, such as Christmas tree farms, ice rinks, places to see Santa, and many more. We’ve also discovered the UK’s most festive cities by blending the top ratings for each of these categories to find out exactly where you can get into the festive spirit this Christmas!

The UK's ultimate festive trail

Here at Parkdean Resorts we’ve found the most dazzling festive activities for the whole family to enjoy, this season. Follow along, as we unpack the very best of the UK's reindeer farms, Christmas markets, garden centres and more. This hand-picked festive trail guarantees to get even the Grinches in your life grinning!

An infographic showing the UK's best festive hotspots

1. Royal Botanic Garden, London

It would only be right for the trail to begin with a visit to see the big man himself at Richmond’s Royal Botanic Garden. Be sure to stop and say “hi” to Santa on the Kew Gardens winter trail, underneath a sky gleaming with magical illuminations and more.

2. Carnaby Street, London

For the next stop, the ‘season for giving’ calls for us to do some much-needed gift shopping, for friends, family and maybe even some treats for yourself! Our festive trail takes you to Carnaby Street in London, offering far more than just their beautiful window displays, Carnaby asks for you to “expect the unexpected” this Christmas. For those looking to save a few pennies this festive season, Carnaby even has a selection of shopping and dining discounts to enjoy throughout the whole of the festive season.

3. Garlic Wood Farm, Horsham

Now it’s time to get prepping that delicious Christmas dinner and where could be a better place to start than the centrepiece of any festive feast - the turkey. If you’re looking to splash out and treat the family this year, look no further than Garlic Wood Farm in Horsham, a group of ‘ethical butchers’ offering traditional, quality, free-range turkeys. We recommend making the most of your leftovers and cooking up a Boxing Day turkey pie - that's if everything hasn’t already been ‘gobbled’ up on Christmas Day.

4. Shergolds Nursery, Southampton

While garden centres are a fabulous day out all year ‘round, a stroll through one at Christmas is especially spectacular, and you’re guaranteed to leave feeling all warm and fuzzy! The next stop on our festive trail had to be Shergolds Nursery in Southampton, a garden centre which even has a Christmas shop where you can pick up Christmas cards, gift bags and stocking fillers to name just a few!

5. Ty Cerrig Christmas Trees, Cardiff

Whether you’re eager to put up the Christmas decs as soon as Halloween is out of the way or partial to holding out until the 24th of December, nothing puts you in the festive spirit more than finding the perfect tree to light up your living room! Ty Cerrig Christmas Trees in Cardiff offers two types of tree from the classic low needle drop Nordmann Fir, to the characterful and bushy Fraser Fir, here, you’re guaranteed to find the tree of your Christmas dreams!

6. Warwick Open-Air Ice Rink, Warwickshire

And just like that, it’s ice skating season once again, and of course it wouldn't be a festive trail without a thrilling ice rink to glide around (or shuffle around the edge) to your favourite Christmas classics! On the ultimate festive trail, your next stop is the enchanting Warwick Open-Air Ice Rink. Channel your inner Elsa as you skate around the impressive Warwick Castle, which is waiting to be explored after you’re done with ice skating.

7. Knowsley Safari Santa Experience, Liverpool

The next stop on our ultimate festive trail is the Knowsley Safari Santa Experience - which yes, is as exciting as it sounds. Spend the day exploring the safari before taking a wander through the woods, past glistening lights and into Santa's Grotto. Here you can drop off your Christmas wish list for Santa to take back to the North Pole once he departs from Liverpool. What will be waiting for you under the tree this Christmas?

8. Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, our festive trail’s next stop leads us to the Belfast Christmas Market, one of the ultimate ways to get in the festive spirit, celebrating all things merry and bright with friends and family. The Market stalls vary from 21 different nationalities, bringing a huge range of foods and unique gifts from around the world from Dutch pancakes and Belgian chocolates to Bratwurst fresh from the Schwenkgrill!

9. Beecraigs Deer Farm, Scotland

Of course, no Christmas trail would be complete without seeing Santa’s sidekick Rudolph in all his glory! At Beecraigs Deer Farm, just outside of Linlithgow, you can visit 370 hectares of stunning landscape and witness more than just Red Deer - this country park is also home to Highland and Belted Galloway Cattle and Hebridean/North Ronaldsay Sheep. Open all year round, a trip to Beecraigs Deer Farms makes for an idyllic family day out in the fresh (albeit cold!) air. Be sure to wrap up warm!

10. Redcliffe Farm, Leeds

Last (but not least) on our ultimate festive trail, is the Redcliffe Farm in Leeds, where you can pick out your 2022 Christmas tree. Select your perfect tree in their undercover barn, ready to take home for decorating and to bring all of the festive joy from the festive trail to the comfort of your home! We can’t wait to see how you decorate yours!

The best places to see Santa in the UK

Have you been good this year? Our research has identified the very best places for you to visit Santa in 2022, so we hope that you’re on the nice list!

An infographic showing the UK's best places to visit Santa

1. Royal Botanic Garden, London

According to our study, the best place to see Santa this year is the Royal Botanic Garden, in London. From the 16th of November to the 8th of January, the skies in Richmond will be agleam with larger-than-life illuminations in Kew Gardens' magical winter trail, where Father Christmas awaits your seasonal greetings.

2. Knowsley Safari – Santa Experience, Merseyside

From the 19th of November to the 23rd of December, Santa will be spending some time in his Liverpool grotto, at the Knowsley Safari Santa Experience. What could be more exciting than meeting Santa and spending the rest of the day exploring a safari? The best of both worlds if you ask us!

3. Paulton’s Park, Hampshire

Munch on Santa's favourite snack, mince pies, as you kick back and watch a festive show. Each of the Santa’s Christmas Wish and Santa’s Storytime shows are hosted on the Paulton’s Park show stage and run daily. Just over an hour’s drive away is the Parkdean Resorts Warmwell Holiday Park, where you can turn your festive day out into a Christmassy luxurious lodge getaway!

4. Santa’s Grotto, Beamish

The fourth best place to see Santa this Christmas is Santa’s Grotto at Beamish. Priced at £6 per child, including a small gift and free entry for accompanying adults - a visit to Santa’s grotto offers a festive filled day out, without pulling too hard on the purse strings! A must-visit for those heading on a Christmas staycation in the North East.

5. Santa at Cannon Hall Farm, Leeds

Cannon Hall Farm in Leeds ranked as the fifth best place to see Santa this year, and is a great option for those looking for an action-packed day of adventure. Having teamed up with Talegate Theatre Productions and the Copycat Party Company, little ones can join Santa on a magical adventure in their indoor staged show, before taking a trip to the Toy Factory to meet the elves and pick out their very own present.

6. Santa's Grotto at Eureka, West Yorkshire

The sixth best place to visit Santa this Christmas is Santa’s Grotto at Eureka in Leeds. From the 26th of November to the 23rd of December, for £6 you can visit Santa and his elves. Your little ones will even get a gift to take away with them and the opportunity to take an (s)elfie with Santa and his elves, of course!

7. Hever Castle, Edenbridge

Hever Castle welcomes you to come down to meet the big ol’ man himself, alongside his elves. What’s more, while you’re there your little ones can enjoy hours of endless fun with plenty of activities to enjoy. From meeting the huskies in the Husky Hideout and the owls from Willow’s Birds of Prey, Hever Castle makes for a full day of festivities that are guaranteed to not disappoint!

8. Christmas with Paddington in Tinsel Town at the Trafford Centre, Manchester

From the 16th of November right up until Christmas Eve, visit Santa at Manchester's Trafford Centre - this year the theme is ‘Christmas with Paddington’, featuring the nation's favourite bear. This enchanting interactive experience offers plenty of special photo opportunities in a fully themed grotto, offering a sumptuous, traditional, and unforgettable experience for the whole family to enjoy.

9. Stockeld Park, Wetherby

With twinkling lights and Santa awaiting in a rustic wooden cabin, the whole family will experience the festive cheer at Stockeld Park this Christmas. Tickets are £13 for the little ones and adults go free. Each ticket includes access to Stockfeld Park’s Snowflake Maze and Enchanted Forest, so you can spend the entire day having festive fun, what’s not to love?

10. North Pole Adventure at National Forest Adventure Farm, Birmingham

Rounding off our top ten is Birmingham’s North Pole Adventure at National Forest Adventure Farm. Here, your little ones can set off on a magical journey to the North Pole, and take part in a variety of activities packed with festive fun, such as; decorating gingerbread with Mrs Claus, helping the elves sort the toys and of course meeting Father Christmas himself!

The UK’s Best Christmas Tree Farms

In search of the perfect pine? For those who prefer the real deal when it comes to Christmas trees, look no further than our guide to the best tree farms in the UK. Read on to learn more.

An infographic showing the UK's best places to choose a Christmas tree

1. Redcliffe Farm, Yorkshire

Secure your sought-after real Christmas tree this year from Redcliffe Farm, in Yorkshire. Redcliffe sits at the top of our listings and for good reason - here you can view and select your perfect tree that has been sourced from the Yorkshire Moors in Ebberston. The farm is open daily from Saturday 27th November and is a must-visit if you’re in the area. ‘Tis the season after all…

2. Christmas Tree Farm, South London

With 35 years of experience in the pine tree field, Christmas Tree Farm in South London is a great experience for all the family to savour. Trees from small to large are freshly cut every day, or if you wish you can bring along your own tools and channel your inner lumberjack and freshly cut your tree yourself. An activity not many other farms of this kind offer.

3. Holly Farm Garden Centre, Whitchurch

Ranking as the third best place to get your Christmas Tree this year is Holly Farm Garden Centre - where you can swap out summer strawberry picking with a pick-your-own Christmas tree experience. Once you’ve secured your Christmas tree of choice, why not swing by the cafe to enjoy a hot cup of cocoa?

4. Tayside Forestry, Dundee

One of the UK’s largest Christmas tree growers, Tayside Forestry, ranks as our fourth-best Christmas tree farm in the UK. They even offer a home delivery service so you don’t have to worry about the tree damaging your car roof - always a bonus.

5. Pines and Needles, London

Ranking in fifth place is Pines and Needles in London, with trees ranging from 3ft - 12ft. They also have a selection of value Christmas trees for families looking to join in with the festivities without spending a fortune.

6. Woods Farm Christmas Trees, Birmingham

Woods Farm Christmas Trees based in Birmingham have a dazzling selection of trees to choose from. You can even take a trip to Woods Barn to complete the job and pick up some dazzling decorations, before heading back home to deck the halls.

7. Friezeland Christmas Tree Farm, Nuneaton

Fancy having a tree with famous spruce siblings this year? Well, taking seventh place is Friezeland Christmas Tree Farm, which also is the supplier of trees to high-profile brands such as John Lewis and Mcdonald's. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us!

8. Cotley Christmas Farm, Exeter

Offering a traditional Christmas tree experience, Cotley Christmas Farm provides an opportunity for a whole fun-filled day out! With reindeers on-site and turkey booking services, a trip to this Exeter-based Tree Farm will leave you feeling merry, bright and organised.

9. Hans Christian Anderson Christmas Trees, Guildford

The ninth-best Christmas tree farm in the UK is Hans Christian Anderson Christmas Trees based in London. This is a family-run business renowned for growing their Nordmann Fir and Norway Spruce trees in the Surrey Hills surrounding the farm, ready to be taken home and decorated.

10. Catsfield Farm, East Sussex

Rounding off the top ten best places in the UK to get your Christmas tree this year is the Catsfield Farm in East Sussex, which has environmentally friendly values at the heart of its business. Catsfield Farm spends around 7 years caring for a 6ft Christmas tree before it ends up in your home, so know your tree has been grown with love.

The best places in the UK to do your Christmas shopping

Gifting season is upon us and heading to a shopping centre to do your shopping brings people a lot of joy. Whether you’ll be leisurely strolling through a store weeks in advance or doing a last-minute dash on Christmas Eve, we have found the best places to do your Christmas shopping in the UK.

1. Victoria Quarter, Leeds

In the top spot is Leeds’ very own Victoria Quarter, who are adding a touch of festive glamour to your Christmas shopping this year. With special performances, a giant dazzling Christmas reindeer and other twinkling decorations, Victoria Quarter is here to help you to have an unforgettable Christmas shopping experience, regardless of how big your list is.

2. Piccadilly Arcade, London

Step into London’s finest Edwardian Arcade this festive season for a classic Christmas shopping experience. Whether you’re planning to find the perfect gift for that special someone, or just window shop and admire the beautiful displays the shopping centre has to offer, a trip to the Piccadilly Arcade is the perfect way to get into the festive spirit.

3. St Martin’s Courtyard, London

St Martin's Courtyard is a beautiful open-air shopping and dining destination located in the heart of Covent Garden. Here you can experience the magic of Christmas in London while picking out some presents for your loved ones- and maybe a few for yourself too if you can be tempted…

The UK’s best outdoor ice rinks

Whether you plan to glide like a pro or shuffle around with the help of a penguin, magical memories are waiting to be made on some of the UK’s best ice rinks, so wrap up warm, lace up your boots and get skating!

1. Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink

Take in the magnificent views of this beautiful Tudor palace as you glide around Hampton Court’s stunning 1,040 square metres outdoor ice rink. A visit after dark will mean you get to see the palace lit up and for those a little too nervous to brave the ice, there's a cosy cafe where you can munch on a mince pie instead.

2. Warwick Castle, Warwick

It’s the time of year again when Warwick Castle’s east front transforms into an impressive skating rink. Glide around the ice to the sound of your favourite Christmas classics and when you’re ready to hop off of the ice, there is a stunning castle at your feet ready to explore!

3. Royal Pavilion Ice Rink, Brighton

If you’re looking for a greener option this Christmas, Brighton's Royal Pavilion Ice Rink offers a rink powered totally by green energy! This is a great option to save a few pennies as you can grab an off-peak family of four entry ticket for £36!

The UK’s most festive cities

At Parkdean Resorts, we’ve discovered the most festive cities in the UK so you know exactly where to spend your Christmas! To measure this, we’ve looked at over 17 different categories, including; TripAdvisor reviews and ratings of Christmas markets, Santa’s grottos, ice rinks, shopping centres and special occasion restaurants. Buckle up and be prepared to take a festive adventure through the most Christmassy UK cities.

An infographic showing the UK's best cities for Christmas

1. London

Christmas spent in the UK’s capital city has a timeless appeal, from Christmas shopping on Oxford Street to Hyde Park's famous Christmas market Winter Wonderland, London attracts tourists from far and wide. Our research has shown that London is the UK’s most festive city, with a score of 70.5 out of 100 in our index! Despite its pricey reputation, our research also found that London is a great spot for those looking to get involved in festivities without breaking the bank. With 3,415 budget-friendly restaurants, there is bound to be a Christmas dinner out there with your name on it! London also seems to be popular with the big man himself, as here you can find the most locations to meet Santa in the UK, at an impressive 4,376!

2. Birmingham

Birmingham ranked as the second most festive city in the UK with a score of 68.6 out of 100 on our index. It’s a must-visit for any festivity fanatics! Birmingham scored highly for the most Instagrammable Christmas markets, unsurprisingly being home to the award-winning Frankfurt Christmas Market! Christmas Tree farms also are a winner for Birmingham with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5, Birmingham may have some of the finest pines in the UK too! Garden centres in Birmingham also seem to be a firm favourite, with 505 reviews, the most in our index, so we can only imagine how good the Christmas decorations must be in Birmingham homes!

3. Manchester

Manchester is the third most festive UK city with a score of 62.9 out of 100. With 72,450 uses of the hashtag ‘Christmas’ in Manchester, Mancunians definitely know how to spread Christmas cheer! It also comes as no surprise that the hashtag ‘Christmas Market’ has been used 65,513 times in Manchester, the most in all of the UK, thanks to their famous Christmas markets amounting to an incredible 220 stalls across nine market sites in the city centre. And how could you not feel festive when you have the Trafford Centre to do your Christmas shopping, which this year even has opened its very own ‘Tinsel Town’ where you can meet Father Christmas himself.

4. Liverpool

The UK’s fourth most festive city is Liverpool, scoring 55.8 out of 100 on the index. Liverpool scored highly for their garden centres, which are a Christmas must-visit for those on a hunt for the twinkliest lights and grandest decorations to deck the halls! Liverpool also ranked highly for their Christmas tree farms, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5, not only will Liverpool have the prettiest decorations but some fabulous firs too. While we don't doubt that you will be, you can stop off and check if you’re on the nice list and get a magic seal of approval from the Elves at St John Shopping Centre’s ‘Elfie Station’- we’ve heard they’ll be checking twice.

5. Glasgow

Glasgow rounds off the top five most festive cities in the UK with a score of 54.5 out of 100 on our index. If you’re planning to pay Rudolph a visit this Christmas, Glasgow is the place to be, with the highest-rated reindeer farms in the UK, rated at an average of 4.8 out of 5. For those feeling festive enough to brave the ice, Glasgow also scored favourably in this category too, with ice rinks averaging 4.6 out of 5. Glasgow is a fantastic place to spend Christmas time, so if you haven’t already, pay it a visit!

If this guide has got you feeling all the more festive, why not browse through our range of Christmas breaks to help you make the most out of the Yuletide season! Have a good one!