Christmas will be soon be upon us once again so whether you fancy a quick festive city break or want to fly home to be with family and friends, now's the time to book your Virgin Atlantic Little Red flight. We've already brought you the lowdown on some seasonal happenings north of the border – today we're seeing what Manchester and London have got tucked up their festive sleeves...
Manchester Christmas Markets
Between now and 22 December, Manchester is hosting not just one but a veritable feast of Christmas markets across the city – most of which are open until 8pm, allowing both city workers and last-minute shoppers to take advantage of all the delectable arts, crafts, toys, clothes and foodstuffs on offer. You'll find a full list of markets and their locations here, including specialist French and German affairs, and there's even a unique Christmas Market shilling to collect, to mark 15 magical years of markets in the city.
Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo
For a night of illuminated wide-eyed wonder, take your kids on a nighttime adventure at Chester Zoo's Lantern Magic. A host of beautifully lit-up life size animal lanterns will greet them at the end of the lantern trail, where they can also meet Father Christmas and attend a special workshop to personalise their very own lantern to take away. The Fruit Bat Forest and Elephant House will also be open late on Lantern Magic nights.
Manchester City FC Festive Stadium and Club Tour
If you're a blue, then you'll be thrilled to learn that your team is throwing open its stadium doors for behind-the-scenes tours this Christmas, which include a 70-minute professionally guided tour of all those places you've always wanted to see: the press conference room, the home player dressing room, the warm-up area, tunnel and pitch side for starters. And on top of all that, you'll be greeted with a fat slice of Christmas pudding and the chance to visit Santa's Grotto.
Tatton Park's White Christmas Mansion
Fans of England's stately homes should put Tatton Park's mansion on their to-visit list this year. Part of an historic National Trust estate in Cheshire, the house is celebrating Christmas with a white and silver Alpine theme throughout, dressing its opulent state rooms with frosted foliage and flowers from the surrounding deerpark and gardens. Visitors will be serenaded by a programme of live music performed by choirs, a string quartet and harpsichordist, and can watch costumed guides bake a selection of traditional festive treats. And if you like a sing-song yourself, don't miss the Family Stableyard Carols at Tatton's own stableyard on Sunday 22 December.
Christmas Ice Rinks
Nothing heralds the arrival of Christmas in the capital like the opening of the city's festive ice rinks. Watching woolly-scarved skaters take a spin beneath such illustrious backdrops as Somerset House, the Tower of London, Hampton Court, and the Natural History Museum is one of London's most appealing winter sights, and if you're keen to strap on some boots and try it for yourself there are ten major rinks to choose from this year.
Christmas at Kew
Until 4 January, Kew Gardens is offering London visitors the chance to leave the frenetic pace of the city behind, and explore the beauty of an idyllic winter landscape lit up in a kaleidoscope of colours. The illuminated mile long trail is open from 4.30pm on selected evenings, and if it gets a little too chilly you'll be able to nip back inside with a mug of mulled wine as you peruse the one-of-a-kind gifts for sale at the Boutique Christmas Market. Little ones get their own Woodland Grotto to check out too, complete with Victorian carousel and other rides.
Hogwarts in the Snow
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London has magically transformed some of its famous Harry Potter sets using the very same props and decorations as seen in the films, including the Great Hall which will be draped with mistletoe, golden wreaths and holly. But best of all is Hogwarts' wondrous winter makeover, which sees the castle recreated with its festive wintry look for the very first time.
Winter Wonderland returns to Hyde Park this year with – yes, an ice rink, plus the huge Christmas market and enormous observation wheel for which it has become renowned. An absolute dream destination for children, the experience is also home to the dazzling sub-zero ice sculpture land known as Magical Ice Kingdom, the wildly popular Zippos Circus, and for tinier tots, a separate Santa Land with toy factory, elves and a visit to the bearded one himself.
Header photo © Rachel Docherty on Flickr
Virgin Atlantic Little Red is our UK domestic service, offering great value, full service multiple daily flights between London and Manchester, London and Aberdeen and London and Edinburgh. Little Red flights can be booked now, bringing you closer to all our destinations.
If you're flying Little Red to Scotland, check out our Aberdeen and Edinburgh recommendations too.
Will you be spending Christmas in Manchester or London this year? We'd love to hear more recommendations for festive city fun in the comments below.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.