Let’s face it. By the time the Christmas holidays are here, most of us are in serious need of a break. Between the Christmas shopping, the cooking and the entertaining, it’s undoubtedly the busiest time of the year. So, what better way to recharge than with a mini-break?
The gap between Christmas and New Year, also known as Twixmas, is a prime time to get away and relax. All the hard work is done, and lots of us still don’t have to be back at work for a few more days.
Here are some ideas of where to head for a post-Christmas holiday in 2016, whether you want to chill out and spend some time sightseeing, or just make the Christmas festivities last a bit longer. If you’re going to any of these destinations with a particular attraction in mind, just make sure you check the Christmas opening times first, as they can vary over the holiday season.
1. Hit the beach in Falmouth
If you thought beach holidays to Cornwall were just for summer, think again. In winter, the Cornish coastline takes on a completely different personality thanks to the absence of sun-worshipping crowds. Head to Falmouth between Christmas and New Year and you can look forward to long winter walks along the sand, fish and chips overlooking the surf, and a decent pint or two in a cosy coastal pub. It’s the perfect way to kick back and re-focus after the Christmas stress.
2. Get pampered in Exeter
If you can’t decide between a spa break or a shopping spree, head to Exeter for a Twixmas getaway. The city’s Guildhall shopping centre – the only one in the world with a medieval church in the middle – is also home to the Haven Spa. That means you can spend the morning wandering round the shops, and the afternoon with your feet up. There’s a fully kitted-out thermal suite, a relaxation room and a long list of treatments. And while you’re on holiday in Devon, make sure you stop off for a cream tea or two. Our tip is the Hidden Treasure Tea Room at the bottom of Fore Street. Expect bone china teacups, homemade cakes and lashings of cream in your cuppa.
3. Hunt for history in Norwich
As the most complete medieval city in the UK, Norwich is perfect for history lovers. Top sights include the medieval Norwich Castle, the beautiful Norman cathedral and the 15th-century Guildhall, all of which look even more beautiful lit up on a winter’s night. But not all the city’s famous sights date so far back – the Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum is a must-visit, and it only opened in 1973. You’ll find it in the Royal Arcade – an art nouveau masterpiece in itself – and it’s packed to the rafters with mustard-related products. That’s powders, pots, spoons, vintage tins, tea towels – you name it. Plus, it’s really close to Norwich Market, which just happens to be the biggest of its kind in the country.
4. Shop the January sales in Leeds
OK, so we know it’s not actually January yet. But everyone knows the sales start on Boxing Day, so head to Leeds – named the UK’s best shopping destination by the Rough Guide to Britain – and snap up some post-Christmas bargains. Trinity Leeds has more than 120 shops under one roof, so you can buy a completely new wardrobe without having to worry about the weather. While you’re in the city, pay a visit to Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House to see Northern Ballet Theatre in a festive rendition of Beauty and The Beast. Or, pack your hiking gear and take a 20-minute train out to the Yorkshire Dales if you just want to escape from it all.
5. Go for a winter walk in Sheffield
If you’ve overdone it on the Christmas nibbles and had enough of lounging on the sofa, book a break to Sheffield. While shopping and sightseeing are usually top of the agenda in this city – and for good reason – there are some amazing parks and public gardens that make great territory for winter walks. Wrap up in your hat and scarf, pick up a hot chocolate and wander around spots like the botanical garden, peace garden and the Sheffield Winter Garden. The latter is basically a huge greenhouse that’s home to more than 2,500 tropical plants, and it’s free to enter. And of course, the Peak District is only five miles away from Sheffield if you prefer your winter walks with a steep incline.
Fancy getting away from it all? Book a ticket with megabus and you don’t even have to do the driving.