December: the festive cheer, the giving and receiving… and the cost! So take advantage of these ideas for free, festive entertainment this Christmas.
Around the country
- Cheer on thousands of red-suited looky-likeys in the many charity Santa Fun Runs planned in December. Sheffield and Solihull are among the locations raising funds for the British Heart Foundation (bhf.org.uk/ 0207 554 0000 ). Plenty more at SantaDash.co.uk.
- Cheer on hundreds of costumed bikers delivering toys to charitable causes. Stoke (StokeBikeRuns.co.uk) and Reading (ReadingToyRun.org) are just two of this year’s toy run locations – check your local press for details.
- Visit Worcester’s Victorian Christmas Fayre (1-4 December), Belfast’s Christmas Continental Market (ends 18 December) or Manchester’s Christmas market (ends 21 December), just three of many seasonal fairs and markets this month. (ChristasMarkets.com).
- Watch the recording of a Christmas television special. The BBC offers free audience seats at recordings studios across the country (bbc.co.uk/ShowsAndTours) or see ApplauseStore.com/ 0871 987 1234 for details of shows on various channels.
- Wrap up warm to watch hundreds of hardy souls take an outdoor swim for charity. Christmas Day locations include Brighton (Brightonsc.co.uk) and Lowestoft (Splash4cash.org.uk). Boxing Day locations include Sunderland (VisitSunderland.com) and Tenby (TenbyBoxingDaySwim.co.uk).
- Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus and participate in craft activities at Castle Eden Dene in East Durham on 3 and 4 December (WoodlandTrust.org.uk).
- Experience the centuries-old tradition of the Winter Watch Parades in Chester on 1 and 8 December (MidsummerWatch.co.uk / 01244 402 330).
- Pearly kings and queens are on the invite list for the Robin Hoods Bay Victorian Weekend & Fireworks weekend on 2-4 December (Robin-hoods-bay.co.uk).
- Attend the carol service by the Christ Church Cathedral Choir in Oxford on the afternoon of the 8 December (ChchChoir.org/events/ 01865 276155).
- Hawkshead Christmas Fair (2-4 December) offers street entertainment, crafts and fine food accompanied by the sound of Christmas Carols and the smell of roasted chestnuts (HawksheadChristmasFair.com).
- Watch the lighting of the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square on 1 December or enjoy the Crib Ceremony on 4 December, starting with a torchlight procession from St Martin in the Fields church (Smitf.org / 0207 766 1100 ).
- Take a gander at the Christmas Goose Fair in Chertsey. Food, art, crafts and gifts will be tempting visitors on 10 December (ChertseyChamber.com/goosefair2011/ 01784 460108 ).
- Visit the 31st Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden on 3 December (XmasPuddingRace.org.uk/ 07918 608 499 ).
- Join in with some Cornish festive fun at the official switching-on of the Christmas lights on The Moor in Falmouth on 1 December (Falmouth.co.uk/ 01326 313553 ).
- Support the annual Boxing Day pram races in Windlesham (PramRace.com/ 01276 472 977 ) or Pagham (PaghamPramRace.com).
- Enjoy the Christmas festivities in George’s Square in Glasgow all month; lights, daily entertainment, choirs and more! (GlasgowLovesChristmas.com).
- Join thousands of partygoers in Edinburgh for the torchlight procession heralding the start of the Hogmanay celebration (EdinburghsHogmanay.com).
- Catch the unique Scots Hogmanay Fireballs celebration in Stonehaven late on 31 December (StonehavenFireballs.co.uk).
- Dress up for the forest trail at the Slieve Gullion Christmas Wonderland at Newry, Co Armagh on December 17 (DiscoverNorthenIreland.com / 0283086 8900. Pre-booking advised).