Get festive with these fantastic #BritishFamous traditions and fun pop-ups. Since it’s never too early to dream of the holidays, here are a couple of suggestions to kick start your planning:
Cardiff Christmas Market (November 9 - December 23) and Winter Wonderland (November 9 2017 - January 7 2018), Cardiff, Wales
Take a spin on the ice at the Winter Wonderland with views of Cardiff’s City Hall and warm up with some glühwein in the Alpine Village. Explore the fun fair before strolling over to the nearby Christmas Market where over 200 businesses will be selling food, drinks, arts & crafts, and holiday gifts.
Montague Ski Lodge (November 16 2017 - January 14 2018), London, England
If you can’t make it to the mountains this holiday season, the mountains will come to you. Visit The Montague Ski Lodge in the heart of London for a taste of chic alpine après ski. With pine trees, a log cabin, piste maps, warm blankets, and fairy lights, the Ski Lodge is wonderfully festive and the perfect place to hang out with friends.
Stonehenge Winter Solstice (December 21), Wiltshire, England
It’s not every day that you get to join druid and pagan communities in their rituals. Head to the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge to celebrate the shortest day and longest night of the year with them. Stonehenge is more than just an arrangement of stones – it is thought to have been built by ancient Britons over 4000 years ago to study and celebrate the sun and moon. Watching the sun set between the stones, listening to incantations and standing with hundreds of other people is truly a magical experience.
Burning the Clocks (December 21), Brighton, England
This winter solstice celebration is a community event, during which locals make their own paper and willow lanterns and parade through the city in a beautiful display of art and light. When they reach Brighton Beach, the lanterns are passed into a blazing bonfire to symbolize the end of the year. With a huge firework display, fire sculptures, and over 20,000 spectators lining the beach, Burning the Clocks is a special and not-to-be missed event.
Grantchester Barrel Rolling (12PM, December 26), Cambridgeshire, England
One of many bizarre British Boxing Day traditions, the Grantchester Barrel Rolling race is, well, pretty much as you’d imagine. Four local teams roll large wooden barrels up and down the street in a relay race, cheered on by spectators who stand close to the action behind straw bales. Expect friendly competition, local spirit, and festive revelries at the nearby pubs after the event.
Up Helly Aa (January 30 2018), Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland
If you’ve ever wondered what an 800-strong Viking procession looks like, don’t miss Up Helly Aa, which takes place on the last Tuesday of January every year. Originating in the 1880s and steeped in ancient lore, this 24-hour festival features the Guizer Jarl (the head of the event dressed as a character from the Norse Sagas) leading over 800 men dressed as Vikings through the town. Carrying flaming torches alongside a Viking longboat, they parade through darkened streets and crowds of over 5000 spectators. Eventually, the longboat goes up in flames and the revelers visit a series of halls where, at each one, they dance, drink, eat, and be merry. The Scots certainly know how to celebrate.
Posted in Art & Culture
Cover Photo: Up Helly Aa