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The Best Places to Visit on England's Coast this Christmas

Alpine markets, twinkling light trails and festive feasts, there’s nothing more magical than opening presents by the sea. And for 2023 there are more events and special offers than ever, so this year, make it a coastal Christmas!

Top picks for making the sea part of your festive season

Beautiful gifts and plenty of Yule-time food and drink is on offer all around the coast. With plenty of free events, wrap everyone up and enter into the celebratory spirit 

With its dramatic coastline of rugged cliffs and imposing headlands, the Durham coastline is spectacular any time of year. But on a winter’s morning, stroll its deserted beaches at sunset or sunrise and it comes into its own. 

Enjoy the Coast Path, indulge in a warming spa day or shop at the county’s biggest shopping outlet, Dalton Park, whatever you plan, you’re guaranteed a joyful time. 

If the kids are with you and it’s a Saturday or Sunday before Christmas Eve, take a break from shopping and head to Santa’s Grotto at Dalton Park where elves are making wishes come true handing out presents with the Big Red Man himself. 

Alternatively, escape and celebrate the Winter Solstice on 21 December at the Yule Fire Circle at Dalton Moor Farm. Find your own ‘natural rhythms’ in a drum circle, join a community fire circle, enjoy poetry and meditation. 

Make it a Christmas to remember with a stay at Seaham Hall & Spa, it's offering two- and three-night stays including a 5-course tasting menu, four-course Christmas Day lunch, charcuterie board with port and more. 

In East Yorkshire, Sewerby Hall & Gardens is featuring a Winter Woodland with a new Magical Christmas Rescue – mischievous elves have accidentally dropped a sack full of presents and need help finding them. Step into the Winter Woodland and glittering characters will lend a hand with a touch of magic from the Christmas Tree Fairy. 

Visit the fully-decked house on Christmas Eve for the Nutcracker where toys come to life in a wonderful children’s adventure, warm up with plenty of food and drink including a Hog Roast, pizzas and Louisianna Bar in the Courtyard Marquee.

Handmade decorations, flowers and foliage from the gardens will decorate Burton Agnes Hall, Driffield, East Yorkshire this season. A trail of 24 giant, painted candy canes will be hidden in woodland while youngsters can hunt a felt snowman doll hidden in each room. Christmas cheer flourishes at dusk with twinkling lights strewn in the grounds and house, expect wood-fired pizzas, spiced hot drinks and home-baked cakes and more. 

The best places to visit on England's Coast this Christmas The best places to visit on England's Coast this Christmas
The best places to visit on England's Coast this Christmas

Star-spangled treats on the south coast

Romantic break or family treat, enjoy wintry seafront strolls, spicy hot toddies and maybe a tingling Boxing Day dip! 

If you’re looking for a couples getaway, have an Isle of Wight Christmas savouring festive food and mulled wine at the many Christmas markets on the Island.  

Local artisan products are on offer at seasonal markets at the Donkey Sanctuary, Briddlesford Lodge Farm, Wildheart Animal Sanctuary and the pop-up shop at the Garlic Farm. 

For last-minute buys head to The Christmas Imaginarium in Ryde and Jingle Bells Christmas shop in Shanklin. Relax at the with luxurious spa treats at Lakeside Spa or Bembridge Coast Hotel.

Superb seafood and menus of local produce are at the heart of the dining experience on the Isle of Wight but for a truly crave-worthy Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, check out The Pointer Inn in Newchurch, The Caulkheads in Sandown, The White Lion in Niton or The Woodvale in Cowes. 

Back on the mainland, from 25 November to 2 January, Poole offers a nautical, glittering Christmas Light Trail weaving through the town to a shimmering Quay and Harbour. This year light illuminations include a galleon, walk-through lantern and bauble, garlands, icicles, beautifully-wrapped trees plus a marine ceiling of light featuring starfish and sealife.

The best places to visit on England's Coast this Christmas
The best places to visit on England's Coast this Christmas The best places to visit on England's Coast this Christmas

Embrace the festive spirit this year on England's Coast.

On Poole Quay, visit Hennings Christmas Market for stalls heaving with locally-made gifts and local Dorset food and drink, then hop on-board a City Cruises Sail with Santa for great views, mulled wine and a present for the youngsters. 

Next door, Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland dazzles with scores of stunning trees cutting through the Lower Gardens towards the Pier.  The alpine market stalls boast gifts from the UK and Europe, indulge in hot chocolate, crepes and churros, hog roast or Bratwurst sausages. 

Burn off the calories at the nearby outdoor ice rink, suitable for all the family, and if you’d rather skate indoors, the largest rink on the south coast is at the Bournemouth International Centre, five minutes from the Lower Gardens.