The Best Winter Activities in the UK
Winter in the UK is very hit or miss. We usually have wet, windy weather with mild temperatures between 0-10c. Sometimes we’ll have a week or two of ice and snow, but it’s difficult to predict when planning trips. If you want some snow on your Winter break to the UK, your best bet is to head to a mountainous region such as Snowdonia in Wales, the Lake District in England or the Cairngorms in Scotland. Even without snow, Winter can be a great time of year and is the perfect time to try some of the hobbies we’ve listed below.
When the weather outside is frightful… head indoors to a climbing wall. We love bouldering (climbing slightly lower walls with no ropes) as this can be done with no previous experience and very little equipment. All you need are climbing shoes, which indoor climbing walls will rent out. If you’ve never been before, you’ll need to be supervised by staff to make sure you’re safe, but it’s fairly straightforward and very fun! If you’re a complete novice and would rather be roped up, how about booking onto a beginners ropes course or a taster session? All the equipment will be provided and the sessions usually last 60-90 minutes with an instructor to teach you how to climb.
There are loads of sports or exercise classes to choose from nowadays, so the weather is no excuse. Most towns have a leisure centre with swimming pool, badminton courts, squash courts and a gym. You’ll need to check the opening times before you go, and you may need to book courts in advance, but they’re usually fairly cheap for an hour. Larger towns and cities often have a wider variety of indoor sports and classes, including dance classes, yoga, archery, fencing, table tennis, martial arts etc etc. If you’re in London you can even find circus training, axe throwing and curling! Most places will offer one-off taster sessions so you don’t need to commit to membership.
Ice skating is very popular in the Winter, particularly in the lead up to Christmas. Nothing gets us excited for the holidays like ice skating in a beautiful location, followed by a wander round a Christmas market. Lots of museums, castles and stately homes will have an ice rink, as will large Christmas markets and Winter Wonderlands (the most famous being in Hyde Park, London). If you’re booking in advance, check the weather forecast or consider finding an ice rink with a cover over it, because uncovered rinks get very slippery when it rains.
Art & Craft workshops
It’s becoming very trendy for bars and other venues to put on art and craft workshops now, particularly in London. One of the main venues offering creative workshops is Drink Shop Do in Kings Cross. When we lived in London, I made sure to grab a copy of Timeout magazine every week to check for events, as they often advertise one-off workshops around the city. My friend and I attended a Life Drawing event in a warehouse, which included a 4 course meal and gin, all for £30. It was advertised in Timeout and was great fun! You can check their website HERE.
Ever wanted to improve your culinary skills? Or just have some fun making tasty treats and meeting new people? There are cooking classes all over the UK offering one-off workshops or courses, making anything from pasta to puddings. The Little Kitchen Cookery School in Bristol organises parties, seasonal events (such as chocolate gifts for Christmas) and even kids or teens classes.
For those of you wanting to embrace the wind, rain, sleet and snow, how about going out for a Winter walk? The Guardian collated some of the best UK Winter walks, as recommended by travel writers. For those of you with dogs, Style Tails have recommended some of their favourite Winter dog walking spots HERE. Wherever you go, make sure you wrap up warm and plan your route wisely.
My favourite Winter activity has to be Sunday lunch in a cosy country pub. Nothing beats a roast dinner by a warm fire with family or friends. If we’re exploring a new area, we tend to use Trip Advisor to look for recommendations. It’s best to phone ahead to check they have a table too, as Sunday lunch is a very popular meal time!
Attend a concert or the THEATER
You may be able to find last minute tickets and deals for plays and concerts online or in ticket booths; however please don’t support ticket touts (these will be the people wandering up and down the queue outside shouting about tickets) as they take spaces away from genuine fans in order to gain a profit. Theaters often have seats with restricted views, which will have really low ticket prices if you’re on a budget. The West End in London is the most obvious area to find great plays and musicals, but there are some fantastic performances all over the country! We love going to gigs, so keep an eye out for news of tour dates from bands we like.
Escape rooms by their very nature, are indoors. Therefore they are warm and dry; perfect for a Winter day. You’ll usually have one minute in each room, with a variety of puzzles to solve before you can leave. It’s a really fun way to spend time with friends, but can get stressful as you’ll be racing against the clock, so choose your team mates wisely and try not to shout at each other. Escape Reality have venues in all the major UK cities, with several themes to choose from. Their Enigmista rooms look rather terrifying!
Museums and art galleries
One of the awesome things about the UK is that a lot of our museums and galleries are free. I particularly like the Tate art galleries, or the Natural History Museums. The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh is also fantastic. Chris loves planes, so highly enjoys the RAF museums and Imperial War Museums.
Tour a castle
I love exploring castles in Winter, especially if it’s stormy. The wind whistling through the window panes creates a sense of eerie foreboding, adding to the atmosphere. Some of the best areas of the UK for an abundance of castles, are North Wales, Scotland and South East England. Leeds castle (in Kent, not Leeds!) is a particular favourite of mine because of the awesome maze and moat. You can find their website HERE.
Explore a city
Despite the weather in Winter, we love getting out and exploring new places. If it’s cold or wet, then you’ll have more of an excuse to keep popping into cafes and shops to keep warm. If you’re visiting the UK in the lead up to Christmas you should definitely go to a Christmas market. Ours may not be quite as good as in mainland Europe, but they’re still exceptionally fun. Especially if you’re like me and get really excited about Christmas. The best markets in the UK are in Birmingham, Bath and Lincoln. The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London is very large, but also very crowded and can have huge queues to get in.
What do you think of our Winter activity ideas? Is there anything else you’d add? Let us know in the comments below!