5 festive days out that aren’t Christmas markets
The festive season is fully upon us, and if you want to embrace the spirit (and you’re not buried under reams of wrapping paper), there’s a wealth of events out there to help you do just that.
If you’re tired of Christmas markets (there’s only so much lebkuchen and bratwurst you can eat, after all) but still want to put food and drink centre stage, consider one of our top festive days out for food lovers.
Winter walks & toasted marshmallows, Edinburgh
The fun: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s magical trail returns for 2019, featuring a spellbinding cast of illuminated sculptures and installations, including larger-than life flowers and the Cathedral of Light, a 70-metre installation of over 100,000 tiny bulbs. Visit after dark to glimpse snowflakes, stars and baubles hanging from the trees and reindeer and gingerbread men hiding in the greenery.
The food: There are several food and drink vendors along the route (see map, here), with spiced cider, mulled wine and hot chocolate to keep the chills at bay. Bring your own marshmallows (and skewers) to toast on one of the garden’s fire pits.
From £14; until 29 December
Festive fare & a side order of history, Cheshire
The fun: Step inside a mansion this Christmas, as Tatton Park’s neoclassical main house is dressed in festive finery for two special weekends. Imagine Christmases past as you wander the halls to the strains of seasonal music.
The food: Taking “Food Glorious Food” as the theme, state rooms to servants’ quarters have been decorated to reflect seasonal fare. Enjoy the scent of oranges and cinnamon in the scullery, discover a traditional family feast in the dining room and marvel at Tatton Park’s own gingerbread village. There’ll be festive treats on hand, too.
£10; 14-16 Dec and 21-23 Dec
Gin & pies on a twinkly rooftop, London
The fun: The John Lewis Oxford Street store’s lush garden-themed rooftop has had a makeover for winter, with a mini ice rink and two winter cabins for snuggling up in, complete with fluffy blankets.
The food: Gin pioneers Sipsmith are in charge of drinks, with a menu of hot gin cocktails, including mulled sloe gin, and are hosting masterclasses too, where you can taste the Sipsmith range and learn how to shake a mean gin cocktail in time for New Year’s Eve. Hungry? Tuck into pie and mash and gooey brownies from MyPie in the cosy restaurant.
Entry free, masterclasses £25 per person; until 6 Jan
Festive films & feel-good food, Glasgow
The fun: Dinner and a movie might be a first-date cliché, but Glasgow venue Sloans has made an art of it with their EatFilm evenings, screening movies in their grand ballroom with dinner thrown in. Over Christmas, films include festive favourites Elf, Home Alone and It’s A Wonderful Life.
The food: Choose from hearty macaroni cheese, sweet potato chilli or a chilli cheese dog and fries; at £17 for two mains courses and a movie screening, it’s a bargain. Got a bit more cash to splash? Throw in a cocktail and dessert each for £34, with chocolate orange profiteroles and salted caramel tart to choose from.
From £17 for two; until 24 Dec
Skating & snacks with style, London
The fun: The ice rink at Somerset House is an iconic Christmas sight in the capital, with a colossal Christmas tree and the building’s elegant architecture illuminated at night.
The food: Book one of the rink’s “Skate Extras” and après skate, head over to Fortnum’s Lodge in the corner of the courtyard to enjoy a warming treat for two: choose from a giant sharing mince pie with mulled wine; chocolate fondue with figs, honeycomb and a glass of champagne; Fortnum’s camembert with warm brioche and red wine; or a classic Swiss fondue for two.
Skate from £17 per person, Skate Extras from £28 for two people; until 13 Jan