December is a month that's filled with festive celebrations in the UK. Whether you're studying in Brighton, Cambridge, London or Oxford, or just visiting, you'll find plenty of winter highlights to enjoy.
December is a special month in the UK. In the lead-up to Christmas on the 25th December you’ll find winter markets and festive events taking place all over the country. Bellerbys College terms end this month too, giving everyone a festive holiday from 18th December to 11th January.
So what can you expect to find going on at a Bellerbys College near you at this cheerful time of year?
Here are some of our highlights.
Panto time! – Cambridge is home to lots of theatres, including the ADC, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Corn Exchange and the Mumford Theatre. It’s the perfect place to watch a pantomime, which is a very British Christmas tradition. A pantomime is a musical comedy show, usually based on a fairy tale, with lots of audience participation, silly costumes and big laughs. This year you can see Cinderella at the Arts Theatre, and Peter Pan at the ADC.
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – this is one of the highlights of the whole year in Cambridge. It’s a beautiful, traditional carol service that’s held at 3 pm every Christmas Eve in the candlelit King's College Chapel. Get there early if you can, as it can get very busy.
Grantchester Barrel Race – head to Grantchester on Boxing Day (26th Dec) at midday and you’ll see one of the silliest, and oldest, races in Cambridgeshire. For around 100 years this barrel-rolling race has taken place up and down the Coton Road. Nowadays it’s all in aid of charity, and it’s a lot of fun too.
Cambridge Science Centre’s Chain Reaction: Destination Space – this spectacular science event blasts off at the Corn Exchange on 6th December. Families, schools and local companies are going to get stuck into building a huge chain of crazy gadgets that launch one another around the room and across the stage.
Great Christmas Pudding Race – Cambridge isn’t the only place with a silly race to take part in. Head for Covent Garden on 5th December for London’s Pudding Race. Register a team of six if you want to take part, or just go along to cheer on the teams tackling a tricky obstacle course. Participants will be all dressed up in fancy dress. This one is all in aid of charity too.
Hanukkah – from 6th to 14th December Jewish communities across the UK will be celebrating Hanukkah (Chanukah), the Festival of Lights. Every year, the Mayor of London lights the largest Menorah in Europe, in Trafalgar Square, London. This year you can go along to see the festivities on 10th December, where you’ll find free music, dreidelmen and doughnuts.
Winter Wonderland – now an annual fixture of the London festive calendar, see Hyde Park transformed into a fantastic winter funfair with a giant wheel, rides, circus shows, an ice rink, ice kingdom and a Christmas market to explore.
Burning the Clocks – this is an annual community event in Brighton, which celebrates the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. It marks the point where the days start to get longer and the nights get shorter. The event includes a children’s lantern parade through the city, and it finishes with a firework display from the beach next to Madeira Drive. This year it’s taking place on 21st December, and it usually attracts around 3,000 spectators.
Lewes Enchanted Park – just outside Brighton, the town of Lewes offers up a spellbinding, festive treat this year. From 2nd December, Southover Grange Gardens is being transformed into an Enchanted Park. Each night in December it will host A Christmas Wish – an immersive and magical mix of outdoor projections, illuminations, performance and art installations.
Oxford Christmas Market – if you want to stock up on Christmas treats, food, drink, and traditional gifts, head along to Oxford’s Covered Market on Thursday 10th when the Oxford Christmas Market begins. It runs until 20th December.
Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter's Christmas Tea at Christ Church – see the impressive Great Hall of Christ Church (you may recognise it from the Harry Potter movies) transformed into a festive Alice in Wonderland-themed Mad Hatter’s tea party. Enjoy tea, cake and sandwiches as well as a behind-the-scenes tour that explains the connections between the famous college and the classic Lewis Carroll story.