Christmas; a time for celebration, a time for connection. A season to gather, to honour deep-rooted traditions, and to give thanks for kinfolk near and far. As the days grow colder and we inch towards the first advent opening, thoughts turn to the details of the big day: to nice lists and homemade gifts and homes designed to see you through from stuffed stockings to Christmas dinners. Across Britain and Ireland, storybook villages are decked with twinkling lights and ancient marketplaces host alpine-inspired markets, where the mingling scent of chestnuts and spices unlock a heady nostalgia.

Whether you’re seeking a bells-and-whistles country house to fit three generations and their four-legged friends, or a rural hideaway in the Highlands, where long walks replace last-minute wrapping, we know just the place.


Mousehole, Cornwall

Mousehole, a Cornish coastal village, with boats in the harbour during winter

Summer may draw the crowds – surfboards strapped to cars and Beach Boys on the radio – but Christmas in Cornwall has its own allure. The coastal county is cast anew with the first frost, where quaint fishing villages hold their own against winter’s chill with lashings of twinkling lights, windows piled high with pasties, and welcoming wreaths on the inn doors. 

The winter calendar is bookmarked with Cornish customs and traditions. In Mousehole, Tom Bawcock's Eve is celebrated on 23rd December in honour of the legendary local fisherman who saved the village from famine in the early 20th century. Expect late nights, lantern parades, and a wedge of 'Stargazy pie' in the Ship Inn. 

In nearby Penzance, Montol Festival marks the Winter Solstice, with processions, traditional Mummers’ Plays, and old customs like guise dancing, where locals dressed in masks and costumes go door-to-door singing and dancing. There's no Christmas quite like a Cornish Christmas. 

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Castle Howard, Yorkshire

An image of the inside of Castle Howard, looking up towards the dome. There are large windows and paintings covering the walls and ceilings.

Don’t expect half measures at Castle Howard. Every room in this sprawling Yorkshire estate is lavishly decorated for the holiday season, with towering Nordic pines filling the room with their forested scent and garlands draped from each bannister and open fireplace. You can even pick your own British-grown tree at the Garden Centre, before beelining for the highlight of its festive calendar: Christmas by Candlelight. During select evenings, the historic house is illuminated by the soft glow of candlelight, creating an ethereal show that is designed to spark the Christmas magic. 

From Castle Howard, head south to the cathedral city of York, where traditional chalets line the streets for mugs of mulled wine at St. Nicholas Fair. Or, follow the sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire Coast. During the first weekend of December, the village celebrates a traditional Victorian Weekend, where residents and visitors dress in period costumes, and the charming narrow streets come alive with carolling and lantern parades.

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Isle of Skye, Scotland

A small white house in a winter mountain landscape on Isle of Skye in the Hebridea

Pining to escape the endless wrapping and get back to what really matters this Christmas? Leave radio favourites behind in favour of bagpipes and birdsong on the Isle of Skye. Here, dramatic landscapes are gifts too big to put a bow on, so let the snow-capped Cuillin Hills and glacial Fairy Pools set the scene for your most memorable festive season yet. After a soulful stomp around Loch Coruisk, return to your wilderness retreat for a wood fired sauna, before pouring a wee dram as supper simmers away on the stove. 

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? On Skye — or indeed, anywhere in bonny Scotland — then know that Hogmanay is celebrated with just as much gusto as Christmas. Fire festivals, ceilidh dancing, and the ancient customs of saining (burning juniper branches to cleanse and bless the home before New Year) and first-footing (visiting loved ones with gifts after the clock strikes midnight to set the tone for the coming year) are still observed to this day.

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Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace, a honeyed-stone stately home in Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire plays host to one of Britain’s most impressive Christmas light displays, illuminating the grounds and gardens from mid-November. Take little ones by the hand and follow the Winter Trail — a series of immersive light installations, sculptures, and displays — before passing the Colourful Cascades and Lakeside Walk on your way to the star of the show: Blenheim’s Enchanted Woodland. 

There are plenty of places to escape the chill at Blenheim Palace. In true “Deck the Halls” fashion, the State Rooms are adorned with lavish decorations and ornaments retelling the classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. After admiring the candle-lit bedchamber where Aurora sleeps under the Lilac Fairy’s careful watch, source extra-special stocking fillers that the Christmas Market in the Great Court, before heading home with a pocketful of family folklore.

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Ludlow, Shropshire


Longing for the Christmas traditions of old? Look no further than Ludlow in Shropshire, which continues to mark the season with its Medieval Christmas Fayre. During the weekend-long celebration, the town centre is transformed into a medieval market village, complete with street jesters, minstrels, traditional music, archery displays, and storytelling sessions for little ones. There’s a wide array of market stalls, too, but you won’t find the latest console here; it’s all about offering handmade crafts and gifts made to last for many Christmases to come. With baskets full of local produce, head for home to rustle up a winter brie and berry tart – and a round of clementine cocktails for good measure. 

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Browse the entire collection of homes in the UK and Ireland.