Come to White Sand on the coastal East Sussex and Kent border and stay in one of our cosy cottages this winter and enjoy a White Sand Christmas Carol.
Many castles and attractions offer a glowing warm welcome throughout this chilly season and lots of special events bring festive cheer and here is our pick from the Garden of England.
A Dickensian Christmas
Enjoy the unique treats of the Garden of England sparkling with frost, Rochester’s colourful new Dickens Christmas Market, winter-warming fare, cosy pubs, and feel-good escapes on the coast. It’s a magical time for a weekend away beside the sea.
Rochester makes an evocative trip any time in winter, filled as it is with impressive architecture, curious nooks and delightful shops. But do make a date for December and treat yourself to a whole day of festive spirit, gift hunting and indulgence!
Charles Dickens lived nearby and he frequently featured the city in his writings – enjoy your own Christmas Carol with a morning browsing the colourful new Dickens Christmas Market, in the grounds of Norman Rochester Castle. From 3 to 19 December, up to 300 German-style market huts will be selling festive gifts and handcrafted goodies, creating what’s believed to be the country’s largest authentic Christmas market. Fairylights fill the trees, Dickensian characters and carol singers bring good cheer, and what more tempting flavours of the season than roasting chestnuts and glühwein?
If you time your visit for the ever-popular Dickensian Christmas Festival (4-5 Dec), there’s more heartwarming entertainment around the streets that the great author knew. Or spend the afternoon looking up the places Dickens described in his books – many buildings on the Victorian High Street carry plaques as clues. If you haven’t ticked off all the Christmas presents from your list, then explore the independent speciality shops along this atmospheric street – antiques, books, collectibles and fashions to name just a few, while a variety of eateries offer scrumptious pitstops.
Afternoon into early evening is a stirring time to experience Rochester Cathedral. The Romanesque west façade inspires to this day, while new audio tours help to bring the ancienthistory of England’s second-oldest cathedral to life. There is a series of special concerts that add a memorable finale to winter days in this intriguing city.
There is no better time to meander the captivating streets of Canterbury than in the lead-up to Christmas, when festive lights are on, city shops have late-night opening and the cathedral prepares to celebrate.
[frame type=”right” width=”240″ height=”200″ src=”http://1066countryholidays.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Canterbury-Christmas-low-res-web.jpg”]Begin in light mood at The Canterbury Tales visitor attraction, particularly if you’ve youngsters in your party – they just love the fun, laughter and horror of this stunning recreation of 14th century England. Meet some of Chaucer’s colourful characters on their pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral and make the most of new audio guides that help provide a thought-provoking introduction to the city and its famous literary connection.
There’s also plenty of time in the morning for shopping and soaking up the atmosphere of cobbled lanes and medieval buildings. Wander the ‘forgotten’ King’s Mile (Palace Street/Northgate) for independent retailers and must-have gifts. Or take your pick of museums: the Museum of Canterbury showcases the city’s history and the Roman Museum takes you to the preserved remains of a town house complete with famous mosaics.
In the afternoon, tour Canterbury’s World Heritage Site: Saxon St Martin’s Church (Tues, Thurs, Sat) and St Augustine’s Abbey, culminating with Canterbury Cathedral itself. The 14th-century perpendicular nave and stunning medieval stained glass enthral, and there’s an extra- special, skin-tingling atmosphere as Christmas approaches. View the life-size crib, designed and made by cathedral staff and ‘sewing ladies’, and stay for a service to hear the voices of the choir fill the glorious edifice. Worship and events, including main Christmas services, are publicised on the cathedral’s website.
A Christmas Castle
It is time to head for a glorious afternoon finale at double-moated Hever Castle and Gardens (Weds-Sun, 1 Nov-24 Dec), near Edenbridge. The idyllic childhood home of Anne Boleyn reveals a rich history through paintings, tapestries and treasures, while garden topiary and statuary particularly catch the eye in winter. Narnia comes to the castle 2-24 December, with twinkling trees, decorations and spectacular illuminated gardens plus Father Christmas, music and carols. Treat yourself to a visit during Christmas Late Night Specials (9, 10, 16, 17 Dec) and you’ll see the castle bathed in festive lights as you enjoy last-minute shopping and a few indulgences in the restaurants.
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