Replies: 13 - Last Post: Oct 19, 2013 6:23 AM Last Post By: jennifercf
Aug 6, 2013 7:04 AM
December 2013Two forty-something women visiting England at Christmas time - Nov/Dec...what are readers suggestions for things "not to be missed"? Our interests are varied...markets/shopping (not high-rise malls), theatre, good hearty food, museums, history, photo opportunities, countryside. Appreciate any ideas.
Aug 6, 2013 8:02 AM
1Welcome to TT.
Just thinking London.
Borough Market you might enjoy, Petticoat Lane Market too. Camden Market and Portobello Rd too. Covent Garden is a tourist trap but there are some nice less faux shops around there. There is a second hand book stall market on Southbank on weekends. Around Christmas time the German Markets will have kicked off so google and see what you come up with.
Museums? There's the classics but perhaps the lesser known John Soames might be enjoyable for you. The London Museum is less artefacts and more interactive but none the worse for it IMO.
Good hearty English food? Well, there is little more English than roast meat so maybe try Simpsons on the Strand. There are an incredible number and variety of restaurants in London and Brick Lane might be the place many would go for Indian-style food (I've never been disappointed by Cafe Naz but it is what it is) but the Cinnamon Club is a more high-end/modern twist on Indian food which I've always liked.
Apart from the usual photo ops, you should be there when the Norwegian Xmas tree goes up in Trafalgar sq (an annual gift of thanks for Britain's role in WW2) and the Xmas lights in Regent St and Oxford St (although I've always found the lights unimpressive).
Aug 6, 2013 11:37 AM
2Couple of slightly different Christmas related things : There are lots of outdoor ice rinks that setup near Christmas (e.g. http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/christmas/ice-rink/), or how about going to a pantomime - very English experience, and not a typical tourist thing to do.
Biggest problem at that time of year is the days will be short and the weather unpredictable. Hence I wouldn't plan for example spending a week in the lake district expecting to be able to hike. If you want to get out into the countryside I'd try and leave a bit of flexibility in your schedule so that if you get a nice day you can head out into countryside near the town/city you're staying in.
Other than that the usual popular places - you might want to look at York, Liverpool, Oxford/Cambridge, Bath, Stratford, etc.
Aug 6, 2013 6:20 PM
3Thank you both, you have definitely provided some worthwhile suggestions to add to our plans. We deliberately have four days "spare" (no plans) where we can possibly re-visit areas we particularly liked, or to go to new areas we won't have gone to during our trip. At one point we are going from Windermere to Edinburgh, and hoping for snow at least once!
Aug 6, 2013 10:01 PM
4Birmingham Christmas Market is one of the largest in the world, attracting several million people each year. It could easily occupy you for several hours, whilst the "normal" shopping could occupy you for the rest of the day.
For theatre refer to http://www.tkts.co.uk. Billy Elliott is excellent.
For good food, refer to http://www.thegoodpubguide.co.uk and pick anything in it that's down as good food.
The UK is riddled with history. Westminster Abbey is over 800 years old. Numerous villages in the UK are recorded in the doomsday book of 1066 whilst there are several roman forts and the like (we just take it all for granted). Ironbridge Gorge is the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Bletchley Park, birthplace of the computer. Stratford Upon Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare. The list goes on for quite some time.
For countryside pick from the dramatic Cornish coastline, the moorland in Yorkshire, Devon amongst others, major mountains in central Scotland, Lake District and NW Wales, ancient fenlands in Norfolk and Lincolnshire, gently rolling hills in Lancashire, Chilterns and the Downs, etc.
For more info, consider buying a guidebook (seriously, it would genuinely help), and/or try http://www.visitbritain.com.
Aug 7, 2013 5:06 AM
Aug 7, 2013 7:56 AM
Aug 10, 2013 2:23 AM
7There's great advice here for things to see in London. If you want scenery - given the short days and possibly rubbish weather, I'd suggest not going too far for countryside. You could try the Cotswolds - which are pretty, with some lovely villages, and Cirencester in the South and Stratford/Warwick in the north for wet or freezing days. (This assumes you'll have a car - it's possible by bus, but takes more planning.)
Aug 11, 2013 5:28 AM
8I'm repeatedly surprised by the number of overseas visitors who choose this bad period to visit England - as other people have said, short daylight, wet and cold, many attractions closed. The very worst period, if you can avoid it, is between Christmas and New Year, when so many things are closed. On the positive side, there's the Christmas market side but note that this is often early December. In York, where I live, Christmas market atmosphere is most attractive from late November through first half December, but people who come closer to Christmas find it's largely finished. Lincoln certainly used to have a famous German-style Christmas market, but for a precise short period.
Aug 12, 2013 3:20 PM
9SilverMaple - I am an Australian and love visiting at that time of the year. The cold, the early nights (okay they are a pain), lovely warmth inside, beautiful lights which you don't have to stay up until midnight to appreciate. Lots of great reasons why, just couldn't live there forever at that time of the year though.
For the number of times I have been in England at that time of the year, I have only encountered one wet day which stuffed up the days plans. Also, less tourists to contend with!! :)
Jen - my most favourite town so far would be York . Bath is also good but York just has that something else for me.
Went to the Christmas Market in Hyde Park a few years back - did nothing for me. Didn't have the feel and atmosphere of the ones I had been to in Europe.
Aug 15, 2013 11:57 AM
10Yeah, there's plenty of things to do in London. There are the tombs of the Kings and Queens of England at Westminster Abbey, as well as some other famous people at St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
In terms of food, if you looking for great quality food that's enough to refuel you for the rest of your day and really great value for money, you cannot beat the Little Bay restaurant on Farringdon Road, open from Midday to Midnight every day.
Aug 19, 2013 2:55 PM
11Lincoln Christmas Market from 5th to 8th December.
Aug 28, 2013 1:08 PM
Oct 19, 2013 6:23 AM
13Glad I checked TT again...further posts have certainly given me more to consider. As for the time of year, I realise it is will be extremely cold with short days, but I can't experience the festive season at any other time of year!
I'm sure I'll have a wonderful time travelling around, and if I return in the future, I will plan it for England's Summer. To be honest, I'm looking forward to some cold weather mid Nov-mid Dec. It'll be a welcome change after a hotter than usual Spring in Queensland (25-35 degrees everyday). All comments appreciated.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.