Caroline MillsSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Caroline Mills
If you're not yet feeling particularly festive, we've got a host of seasonal events that are sure to bring on that Christmassy glow, just in time for the big day, each accompanied by a campsite nearby so you can tour for longer.
A wonderland of trees
Experience the magical spectacle of more than 100 glittering trees and illuminations at Bournemouth's Christmas Tree Wonderland. As the skies darken, you enter a world filled with light as Christmas trees from around the world guide you along an enchanted trail, encountering spectacular features and surprises along the way.
From Bournemouth seafront, through the town centre and beyond to the coastal villages, there's a glimmering world, including an Alpine market and Alpine Lodge Bar, the chance to skate in the Victorian Lower Gardens, plus live music and entertainment. Highlights include a huge 60-foot tree as a centrepiece, together with an illuminated Big Wheel to gain a bird's eye view of the lights.
What's more, at a time when the festivities are stretching your budget, this event is free to visit (extra charge to ice skate) and continues through until 2nd January.
Why not stay at the wonderful South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park, nearby? There's every reason to do so - it won the top gong in our annual Top 100 Sites awards earlier this year.
A very colourful Christmas
Taking inspiration from one of the best-loved festive poems, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, by American writer Clement Clarke Moore, the American Museum and Gardens has created a vibrant and colourful family-friendly Christmas.
Visitors of all ages will have the chance to relive the magical and unexpected encounter with St. Nick, depicted in the poem, as they wander through the museum and gardens, which is located on the outskirts of Bath. There are delicious festive treats, including Gingerbread, in the Orangery Café, too.
The event is on every day up to and including 22nd December. Families can stay at Bath Caravan Park, in the city centre, or young-at-heart couples could opt for Bath Chew Valley, an adults-only site, and a regular winner within our Top 100 Sites awards.
Christmas markets, crafts, food ... and more
If you're still looking for last-minute stocking fillers, you'll find a diverse range of stalls selling a multitude of gifts at the popular Hatton Shopping Village Christmas Market, deep in the Warwickshire countryside.
The quintessentially English Victorian shopping village is home to a host of independent retailers but, if you simply want to get wrapped up in a great festive atmosphere for an afternoon, there's also Christmas singing, mulled punch and mince pies. Free entry and free parking assists the Christmas budget, too.
One of our most popular adults-only Top 100 sites, Somers Wood Caravan Park, is close by, in Meriden. The park is open all year, but offers plenty of seasonal cheer throughout the festive period.
Take tea with Santa
Head to the world-famous Ironbridge museums at Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, and you can meet Father Christmas in his woodland glade grotto before he heads off on his own Eve-tide round-the-world tour.
Taking place on 21st and 22nd December between 10am and 3.45pm, there are lots of children's fun and activities along the way to his grotto. Or, why not indulge in a late afternoon festive-themed tea with Santa in the Furnace Kitchen? The workshop's Elves will be calling in to make sure everyone's having a good time and, afterwards, Santa will be back in his grotto, handing out presents.
A land of gingerbread
The historic city of Chester is known as Britain's gingerbread city at this time of year, with plenty of tasty things to see in the lead up to Christmas. Sculptures of city icons are among eye-catching sights constructed from this favourite seasonal biscuit, along with a giant chain of gingerbread figures hung across the city, while shops are competing for the best gingerbread window display.
Until 22nd December a Gingerbread Village is providing an inspiring space for children to join in storytelling and craft sessions, with money raised donated to charity, while fifty firs with gingerbread decorations are on display in the cloisters of Chester Cathedral. Plus, of course, gingerbread is one of the treats on sale, too, at Chester Christmas Market.
If you're looking to keep the festive spirit going after Christmas, why not visit The Grosvenor Museum in the city where, until 31st December, you can discover how the people of Chester have celebrated the season over the past 350 years as the period house receives a Christmas makeover.
Climb on board and take the Train to Christmas Town, the annual signature event for the County Durham-based heritage Weardale Railway.
Arrive at the beautifully decorated Stanhope Station and you'll step on board a vintage steam train to be transported into a magical atmosphere, with carolling elves, dancing and storytelling (inspired by the Peggy Ellis book, The Train to Christmas Town). Dunk cookies into hot chocolate en route and expect a visit from a certain person in red, delivering presents throughout the carriages as the train passes through the magnificent Weardale Valley.
There are multiple trips available every day up to and including 23rd December, though hurry to book tickets as they are selling out fast.
You could stay on the idyllic Bradley Burn Farm Touring Park, in Wolsingham, with five hardstanding pitches and extensive views of the magnificent surrounding countryside.