Christmas is upon us, and at long last! At least, after what has been a somewhat gruelling year for many. With the yuletide fast approaching, so too is the sheer opportunity it presents for quality holiday time with your loved one. Getting away for a little festive break is a fantastic idea, and can also allow you to avail of some regional festivities you might not otherwise experience.
It is here that this writer humbly suggests Hertfordshire. Hertfordshire is an unassuming county, despite its proximity to London and its home county status. But despite its unassuming appearances, it is a phenomenal destination for getting away from the urban sprawl, and goldmine for family-friendly festive activities and experiences too – as we are soon to discover…
Christmas wouldn’t quite be Christmas without a familial visit to Santa’s Grotto. Luckily, Hertfordshire has them in spades, with farms, zoos and country parks alike all being kind and hospitable enough to host Father Christmas himself during his busiest month. Why not take the children on a wintry walk round Shepreth Wildlife Park, before dropping in on their extra-special grotto experience?
Hertfordshire Halls and Estates
Hertfordshire is home to a number of estates and country homes, which frequently open their doors for festive fun – whether putting markets on in their grounds or inviting folks in for something special.
One stand-out is Ashridge House, a stately home with a full roster of Christmas events and activities – including an immersive performance of the Nutcracker, and a number of different festive workshops that bring a crafty colour to proceedings. The Ashridge Estate’s proximity to Tring makes travelling back through to Hemel Hempstead a trifle – allowing you to carry on the good vibes with some slightly more urban evening events!
Christmas Tree Farms
You might already have your Christmas tree situation covered at home, but if you don’t – and even if you perhaps just want to wander around some season-appropriate foliage – there are some brilliant Christmas tree farms dotted around the county. Many of these are family-run businesses too, giving you an opportunity to learn more about Herts at Christmas (and maybe come away with something of a deal on a nice-looking pine…).
Another modern festive tradition presents in the form of pantomime. A good panto is a little like marmite, with many people feeling strongly about this form of theatre one way or the other. Whatever your personal feelings, panto is an absolute hit with the youngsters, and could be the perfect reward for a long day of walking Hertfordshire’s inimitable countryside landscapes. There’s a provincial panto in practically every town, and also in a few unlikely places…
Festive Afternoon Tea
All of this county-bound gallivanting is bound to be thirsty work. Luckily, there are tea-rooms galore, and especially so in the borough of Dacorum. That said, Hemel Hempstead is itself a stone’s throw from London, making it possible to jaunt back into urban life for a spot of posh tea.
In truth, there will be some form of magical Christmastime to be found in every region of the UK, from the industrial bustle of Lancashire to the godly quietude of North Yorkshire – but there is something undeniably special about Hertfordshire, and its wide range of activities and destinations for all the family. You would be remiss not to consider a spirited break down south, to take all of it in with your loved ones.