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Two weeks in December

We will be in the UK for 2 weeks in December to see our grad student daughter who is studying at Nottingham. Yes we know it’s not the best time to visit.
We’re thinking London 4 nights and do the tourists sites either at the beginning or end of our trip. That leaves us 9 days...
Would we be crazy to drive or take a train(s) to Penzance and stop along the way?

Where should we actually spend Christmas?
Is it worth it to go to the Lake District or other beautiful places we would like to visit if it was warm? We love history, walking, and seeing new places.

Posted by
8888 posts

I’m returning for another Christmas in London. Will be my 6th.

Have you been to London?

If not then yes spend 4 nights in London and see the sites. Christmas lights will be up. Winter Wonderland which is gorgeous at night will be in Hyde Park. It’s free and fun to walk about people watching and if anyone likes beer the beer garden is fun.

Selfridges, Harrods, Forum and Mason will have their Christmas window adornments. Liberty is always worth a stop in simply because there is no store like it in the states. I also love getting my Christmas cards for next season at Museum gift shops or at St James of Piccadilly.

Depending on your December dates there might be a Santa Run to watch and the great Christmas Pudding race in Covent Garden.

See a pantomime. Check Wilton’s Music Hall website.
Go to theatre.

A favorite Christmas time memory from a few years back was riding with a friend over to a neighborhood I’d never visited. They had a meeting and I went walking toward a park I’d seen from the cab. It was drizzling and as I was watching a soccer match I heard some one shout “here they come.” Turned around and hundreds of runners in Santa Suits were heading my way. I broke out into the largest smile. Turns out it was the Victoria Park Santa Run.

I love photography and had my camera with me. Santa uniforms in trash bins, dogs with Santa caps, Santas in the pub, families including babies in prams in Santa attire, the Krispy Kreme truck and discovering Ginger Pig was a great December day sojourn.

Remember Elizabeth’s Tower with Big Ben is in scaffolding until 2021. Much needed repairs.

Definitely reserve your tix for the Churchill War Rooms in advance, take the Vergers Tour of Westminster Abbey, review the London Walks website to see if any spark your interest. They are always well done.

Now if you are going to Nottingham to see your daughter you should consider training from there to York and staying there for 2 nights. York is great.

Pack light. It can be done even with Winter clothing. I’ve done it for years. 22 inch roller bag and small back pack.

December attire is all about layering. Lands End light weight fleece keeps me warm and weighs next to nothing. Same with the running tights I use under my jeans. Remember a hat, scarf and gloves!

Just saying not having to lug around large heavy suitcases up and down train stairs make train travel much easier.

So yes to London and train travel. Just know best to find advance train fares to save $$’s.

As far as where to stay for Christmas understand public transport, buses, trains, London’s underground doesn’t exist on Christmas Day.

Train travel the day before will be crowded and ceases fairly early. So when u decide where you want to stay for Christmas it might be best to have the car rental.

If you want to go to Penzance travel by train at least 48 hours in advance. Search for tickets now. Get your rental there and maybe stay in Mousehole. They have a Christmas Lights Harbor flotilla. Very popular so reserve now and know the Old Coastguard Hotel remains closed from a fire.

Expect peace and quiet on Christmas Day where ever you are. I’ll be in a London suburb and will enjoy getting out to walk and walk some more.

The stillness is invigorating!

Posted by
5386 posts

Be aware regarding travelling to Cornwall by train that there is engineering work at the London end on 24 and 27-31 December which will limit the capacity and make the journey longer, in particular on the days that there is a complete closure between London and Slough/Reading. (No GWR service at all anywhere on 25-26 December.)

Posted by
3122 posts

Even without the rail delays mentioned in the previous post, I'd say it is not a good idea to go all the way to Penzance given your time limitations and the fact that Nottingham is a must for you. The Lake District wouldn't be as far out of the way, but again it might not be the best use of your time. Nottingham is nearer to the Peak District; why not consider visiting there?

Chatsworth House has festivities for the Christmas season.

You could choose some other places served by the same rail route as Nottingham. Here is a timetable that has a map showing the stations served between London and Nottingham (scroll down to p. 10).

Posted by
6113 posts

December is likely to be cold and wet and I would therefore focus on locations where there is something to do indoors, particularly as it will be dark by 4pm. Personally, I can’t think of anything more miserable than Cornwall in December! The west side of England (Cornwall and the Lake District) are likely to see far more rain than the east side.

York or Edinburgh would be good bases as there is plenty to see if the weather is inclement and they have some great countryside around them if you have a car.

Posted by
2494 posts

In early December, your daughter might wish to go to see the Lincoln Christmas Market. (It is around 1 hour by train & costs £12.30 off peak return).

A much longer running Christmas Market takes place in Birmingham - which is also around 1 hour by direct train to New Street station in the heart of the city. (On this route, advance purchase for specific trains can save a few pounds v pay on the day).

Your daughter might also like to consider purchasing:> (16>17 one is a better deal if young enough).

Trains >
On some routes, it pays to split the ticket. This site is good at telling you where this pays off:>

Posted by
60 posts

I'm going to visit London at Christmastime again this year and I'm looking forward to visiting some of the middle east, arab neighborhoods because there is lots of energy and restaurants open on Christmas. They have the day off, but are usually not Christian so they keep their delicious restaurants open and just enjoy the holiday. I'm planning to go to Edgware Road.