Nothing beats that Christmassy feeling than a stay at Undercastle Cottage in December. It’s a chance to get festive and charge your batteries in readiness for the big day ahead.
With lofty trees shimmering in the morning frost, deer tiptoeing through the garden and the famous New Forest ponies wrapped in thick fluffy coats grazing in the distance – this is where you can escape the holiday madness and enjoy Mother Nature’s peace on earth.
That’s not to say there isn’t a full calendar of events and Christmas things to do if you want to get out and about. Here is some inspiration of what to see and do this December in and around the New Forest.
Pop into one of the New Forest’s prettiest villages and visit Beaulieu. The stately Palace House adjoining the world-famous Motor Museum is adorned with decorations as it would have been for a Victorian Christmas. Go back in time to see how the huge rooms were festooned with handmade ornaments and festive trees in room after beautiful room. Outdoors, the tour continues through woodland gardens lit with thousands and thousands of twinkly lights. Follow the winding trails through colourful scenes, themed gardens and musical Christmas trees.
It’s just a forty-five minute drive through the forest to one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe, the wonderful Winchester Christmas Market. Set around the city’s majestic cathedral, you can browse through a bountiful selection of cabin stalls set in a picture-perfect, fairy-tale scene. It can get busy with over 350,000 visitors heading over to see what all the fuss is about; we’d say it’s definitely worth the effort. There are lots of lovely gifts to buy, plenty of delicious things to nibble and drink, plus a huge ice rink for a swirl to your favourite festive tunes!
We love that the National Trust property, Mottisfont Abbey in Romsey. This year the theme is dedicated to celebrating Cicely Mary Barker’s enchanting Winter Flower Fairies. Cicely’s original artworks will be on show along with sparkling Christmas trees and decorations throughout the house. Mottisfont’s pretty illuminated gardens and walkways will be lined with lanterns, creating a woodland fantasy setting for a captivating flower fairy trail of pixie-sized scenes and tiny fairy homes.
If you’re thinking of bringing your children, then a must-see trip is to Exbury Garden’s Polar Express. Their narrow-gauge steam train receives a magical makeover at Christmas and, it’s a big hit with all the family. Before climbing aboard, pop into the craft cafe to pen a letter to Father Christmas. The train ride to the North Pole letter box for children to post their letters passes through beautifully landscaped gardens. Fun-filled, naughty Elf’s ride on the train to keep you all company and provide entertainment with lots of Christmas songs and cheer!
A stay at Undercastle cottage in December wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Salisbury, just a half-hour drive away. The imposing cathedral hosts scores of phenomenal musical events in celebration of the season. In the historic city centre, you can browse swanky boutiques and interesting shops with twinkly trees leading to the Christmas Market. Here you’ll find little wooden cabins laden with handmade arts, gifts, decorations and lots of festive fare. Wander through the stalls, have a skate on the ice rink and savour the familiar festive scent combinations of Christmas spiced wine, smokey roasted chestnuts and mince pies.
For those wanting a quieter pace
Escape the crowds and explore the New Forest chocolate-box pretty towns and villages. You’ll find lots of lovely independent shops selling unusual gifts, artisan presents and deliciously scrumptious home-made foodie offerings.
Or, you may want to come to Undercastle Cottage and simply forget Christmas altogether for a few days! Enjoy long, lazy mornings peeking at the wildlife outside your bedroom window. Wrap up warm, and fish from Undercastle Cottage’s garden terrace – Hampshire Avon Pike are exceptionally good in the winter months.
Or, just pull on your walking boots and head out through the winter woods and frosty heathlands for a fantastic walk. Stop off at one of the National Parks cosy pubs for a divine lunch and head back home to the cottage, throw a log on the fire and sink into one of the squishy sofas with a glass of something delicious – and relax.