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Northern Lights in Scotland

10 great ideas for a winter weekend break

Here comes winter! All crisp cold air, frost-white trees and cosy fires. It you were thinking of battening down the hatches until the mercury rises, think again. Winter is the perfect time for a weekend break, and a weekend break is the perfect way to banish the winter blues.

Here are 10 ideas for an easy weekend break in the UK; close enough to get to on a Friday afternoon and far enough away for it to be a proper holiday.

1. See Cornwall as you’ve never seen it before

There’s more to Cornwall than summertime bucket and spade holidays. Those busy beaches are deserted in the winter and great for long cobweb-blasting, head-clearing walks. Even better, you can let the dog chase the winter waves, as restrictions are lifted. 

Couple walking dog on Cornwall beach

And, while many attractions close, the Eden Project is open all year round, so you can visit a tropical rain forest in the middle of a UK winter. Stay in a pet-friendly cabin at Deerpark, which is just inside Cornwall, keeping drive times down and making more time for your weekend break.

2. Be transported in time in Hampshire

A winter weekend in Hampshire doesn’t depend on the weather to be full to the brim of exciting activities! Make your base at Blackwood Forest – just an hour on the train from London - and then spend your weekend admiring vintage automobiles at stately Beaulieu, touring famous warships at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and tootling across the countryside by steam train on the Watercress Line, which has Santa specials and festive trains in December, before taking a rest until mid-February.

Santa steam strain at the Watercress Line

3. Get back to nature in the Forest of Dean

Nature might slow itself down during the winter months, but it never sleeps. Spend a weekend in a log cabin, deep in the woods at Forest of Dean, and discover what happens to the forest in winter.

Woman relaxing in Forest Holidays cabin

Gerry, our Forest Ranger is as busy as ever on Forest Explorer and Night Vision adventures, with tales of hedgehog hibernation, the best places to see snowdrops and how the wildlife copes through the lean winter months.

4. Sample English whisky in Norfolk

One of only six whisky distilleries in England, the English Whisky Company, beside the banks of the River Thet, is just 5 miles from our cabins at Thorpe Forest. There’s a generous deal for Forest Holidays guests, offering "two-for-one" on distillery tours! There can’t be a better way to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold winter’s day! Spend the rest of your weekend enjoying the comforts of your cabin and hot tub in the forest.

English Whisky Distillery barrel

5. Visit the oldest art gallery in the world in Nottinghamshire

At Cresswell Crags, step inside the Church Hole Cave, following in the footsteps of Ice Age hunters, and witness their art on the walls of the cave. 

Cave painting of a horse

These pictures were created over 13,000 years ago! Open every weekend throughout the winter, this is a must-see on a weekend break at Sherwood Forest. After a day exploring underground, spend the next day above ground following in the legendary footsteps of Robin Hood.

6. Blow away the cobwebs on the North Yorkshire coast

The North Yorkshire coast in winter is for adventurers. It’s worth the effort for sights such as Whitby Abbey against a starlit sky, the high seas crashing into the cliffs below the Cinder Track and the windswept-clean beaches. 

Whitby Abbey at twilight

Cosy harbour inns or award-winning fish and chips eaten in a steamy café are your reward for venturing out. A weekend exploring this under-appreciated coastline will leave you refreshed and renewed. Stay at Cropton and wind down in style in your outdoor hot tub.

7. Explore cinematic Yorkshire

Spend a weekend touring the famous Yorkshire landmarks that have made their appearance in film and TV over the years. Start with 'Brideshead Revisited' at Castle Howard, then head across the moors for Goathland – this is Aidensfield in Heartbeat, and the railway station is Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter movies. 

Goathland train station

On the coast, Whitby is the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with film adaptations being produced here. Find out more film locations for your weekend here and stay at Keldy for a central base.

8. Enjoy an all-action weekend in Snowdonia

Snowdonia has winter in its name, so there’s no excuse for not getting out there and having some winter adventures. Stay at our lovely little location in Beddgelert and bring your walking boots. Try Guided Scrambling, Rock Climbing, or Mountain Walking, all pre-bookable with your weekend break in Wales

Zip World slate caverns

If you’re worried about the weather, head for Zip World Slate Caverns, where you can experience the most amazing underground playground. 

9. Go star gazing in Scotland

A winter weekend break in Scotland is a stargazer’s paradise, and the clear night sky above the loch at Strathyre is surely the best place in Scotland to stargaze. Winter meteor showers are plentiful!

Northern Lights in Scotland John O Groats

Arrive for the weekend on 14 December for the last of the Geminids, stay the first weekend in January for the last of the Quadrantids. The Northern Lights are always a possibility and could save you a trip to Norway! By day, enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the forest.

10. Explore the lochs and forests of the west of Scotland

Ardgartan Argyll is just over an hour from Glasgow, which makes it suitable for a weekend break from anywhere in the UK.

Ardgartan Argyll snowy

And the West of Scotland offers a sense of freedom that no other landscape in the UK can beat. Search out misty lochs, go for long forest walks and, if the winter weather takes a turn, head into the cosy welcome of a traditional Scottish pub, such as the Village Inn at Arrochar. Sláinte!

Wherever you choose for your weekend break, enjoy the freedom, for a couple of days, to do exactly as you wish on a winter holiday.