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The UK's Most Magical Family Christmas Breaks

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! ‘Tis the season for family, food, festivity – and great Christmas getaways. Whether you’re looking for a city break or wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the festive period, we’ve put together our top choices for family Christmas breaks in the UK this year.

Wherever you decide to go, book an Advance train ticket to your chosen destination via our website and ‘Train Tickets’ app. It’s time to get your skates on!

Try a Traditional Christmas in York

an animated reindeer watching snowflakes fall in the night sky.

York is the perfect place to enjoy a traditional Christmas, with plenty of pubs for a roast dinner and cafés for hot drinks to guard against the Yorkshire chill. There’s lots to see and do around the city too; check out the Christmas market in the city centre, the ice rink at the outlet park, or one of the many museums, concerts and galleries.

As well as being a fantastic city in its own right, York makes a good base from which to get outside and explore Yorkshire. With day trips ranging from coastal Whitby to historic Fountains Abbey, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained.

A snowy River Ouse is just one of the things you could see on a traditional Family Christmas break in York

Festive Highlight:  Enjoy Christmas as they did 150 years ago at Kirkgate, York Castle Museum’s recreated Victorian Street. Journey back in time to walk beneath beautiful garlands, sing carols around the Christmas trees and try traditional Victorian gingerbread.

Where to Stay: In such a small city, there’s no need to be right in the centre. Staying in South Bank means you’ll be close to the station for day trips, as well as within short walking distance of the city centre.

Relax Riverside in Bristol this Christmas

animation of cartoon light twinkling

After a busy year with the family, sitting back and relaxing is an excellent way to spend Christmas. Bristol is just the place to do that. You can spend lots of quality time together, while also enjoying what the city has to offer – weekly Christmas markets, the Ice Rink in Millennium Square and plenty of cosy pubs. Christmas is also a great time to visit some of Bristol landmarks like the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Cabot Tower and Bristol Cathedral.

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can get the train to Weston-Super-Mare just 20 minutes away and enjoy a bracing seaside walk.

Festive Highlight: Cooking the turkey can be one of the most stressful things about Christmas, so why not let someone else dish up your Christmas dinner instead? There are a variety of great options on offer across Bristol, but don’t forget to book ahead.

Where to Stay: There’s no better place to stay in Bristol than by the river; calming water views and easy access to the city centre make it the perfect location for a relaxed Christmas holiday.

Get Out and About in Cambridge

cartoon snowman with snowflakes and santa whizzing past in background.

As well as all the beautiful architecture, which takes on a new life when lit up by sparkly Christmas lights, Cambridge has lots of outdoor activities on offer. Although you might not be punting down the Cam in the freezing cold, you can enjoy any crisp clear days with walks around the colleges and fens.

The city is also offering guided themed tours around Christmas, including introductions to the Fitzwilliam collections and a Ghost tour. If you’re looking to keep the family busy, there’s also a skating rink and fun rides, plus cafés and bars to warm up in afterwards.

Frost-covered plants in a Cambridge field are one of the sights to enjoy on a Family Christmas Break.

Festive Highlights: If you’ve been outside with the family all day, you might want to spend an evening inside. We recommend the Panto. An annual highlight at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, this year’s performance of Aladdin has showings across the festive period and is sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Where to Stay: Why not pick a hotel just outside of the city centre, so you can take advantage of the great outdoor spaces available near the city?

Enjoy a Christmas City Break in Edinburgh

Cartoon santa stuck in a chimney kicking his legs

If it’s a city break you’re after, then there’s none more magical over the festive period than Edinburgh. There are plenty of shops to pick up any last-minute treats for loved ones (or yourself), plus a range of seasonal activities.

You’ll find an amazing Winter Wonderland in the city centre, complete with a Christmas market and ice rink, as well as lots of music and festivity. Enchanting Christmas lights twinkle in the streets, and Edinburgh’s legendary street food scene is complemented by stands selling everything from roasted chestnuts to warm drinks.

Discover the bright city lights of Edinburgh at Christmas on a Family Christmas Break with CrossCountry.

Festive Highlights: Even if you don’t typically go to church, Christmas is a great time to visit. There are lots of churches of all denominations and the Christmas carols are not to be missed. There are several beautiful older churches in Edinburgh, including St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in the West End.

Where to Stay: We recommend staying right in the city centre, so you can be as close to all the action as possible.

an animated cat lying beneath the fireplace waiting for santa

Wherever you decide to spend Christmas with your family, we wish you and yours a lovely festive period! Remember to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app.

Looking for more Christmas activities to entertain the whole family? Check out our blog post on Christmas markets or get your skates on at our favourite Christmas ice skating rinks.

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