This is a magical time of year where the build up to Christmas makes you embrace the cold weather, there is plenty to do and you can’t seem to catch a minute to yourself with the never ending to do list to get you ready for the big day. What happens once it’s gone and January is upon us?
I like to book a little getaway to look forward to, takes the edge of the post Christmas come down and makes me have something to get excited about. I’ve trawled the web for some of the best January themed getaways the UK has to offer. From beach swims and wizarding castles to straw bears and some national celebrations – see if they inspire a weekend getaway with the kids. Let me know if you have any more to add to the list!
1st January: Start the New Year off with a Splash!
There are a number of places throughout the country that you can get a really fresh start to the new year. If you want a full run down check out these guides for Wales (where it’s very popular) and the rest of the country. Here are a few of the bigger ones:
Barry Island – the place famed for Gavin and Stacey in South Wales gets taken over on New Years Day at 12.30pm by several hundred swimmers who have to fully submerge themselves three times (or so the rules go) many swimmers brave the sea in fancy dress. Even if you or the kids don’t fancy the cold yourself, it’s quite the spectacle and worth a look!
Saundersfoot in South West Wales is one of the biggest with over 1800 taking part last year. They have multiple other things to keep you amused such as a fancy dress horse race, fireworks and a massive dance warm-up.
7th January: Join in a live history lesson with the twelfth night celebrations on London’s Southbank
This one is free and happens whatever the weather and they give out cake – what more could you want! One of the cakes will contain a pea and one a bean and whoever finds them will be crowned king and queen for the day! This is steeped in tradition and will have plays, music, storytelling, dancing and for the grown ups some mulled wine. With everything else London has to offer it’ll be a packed break!
What kid wouldn’t want to see a giant straw bear paraded around the streets to a medley of live music and dance culminating in a giant burning ceremony after an obligatory barn dance? The tradition comes from a long time ago when a local youth was selected to entertain people the day after celebrations of the twelfth night when they were all feeling a little worse for wear – to cheer them up. This has been revived in recent years and is now a three day festival in the town outside of Peterborough. There will be plenty of fun for all the family.
How amazing does this sound? The castle will be transformed into a wizarding fantasy world filled with potion making, broomstick and wand training and fantastical creatures. Harry Potter fans eat your hearts out! There are sessions in the morning and the afternoon. With Belfast close by, it’ll be easy to keep the family amused for the rest of your spellbinding stay.
21/26/28 January: Burns night celebrations in Scotland are a great chance for the family to try some haggis or hurl some!
Robert Burns is a Scottish Bard whose legacy is celebrated on the 25th January throughout the country, what better place to celebrate than Scotland itself where there are a number of family friendly events taking place. I’ve picked a couple you may enjoy:
It’ll be a quieter and maybe cheaper time of the year to visit the Scottish capital and this being an indoor option may suit the chilly and possibly wet conditions of the year. The museum are putting on a full day of activities for the whole family. You can learn to Ceilidh dance whilst listening to live music. The little ones can sign up to Traditional tunes for tiny people or story times whilst the older kids can take part in poetry workshops.
Alternatively, why not visit the birthplace of Robert Burns himself where they are having a family friendly nod to the Burns supper in the form of a Haggis Hooley on the 26th January or if you’d prefer a day time event, they are celebrating his birthday on the 28th January with a Burns Big Birthday Bash with free entry to the Burns cottage, a haggis hurling competition, children’s activities, face paint parties and local music and dancing.
25th January: Celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day by walking the rocky peninsular of Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey in Wales
St Dwynwen’s Day is on 25th January and is the Welsh version of Valentines day. Dwynwen (who lived during the 5th Century) was the prettiest of 24 daughters (imagine living in that household!) she was so unlucky in love that she eventually dedicated her life to the church and founded a convent on Llanddwyn (an island off Anglesey) which became a pilgrimage. You can read more about the story here.
Why not take the hike with the kids and teach them a bit about the welsh history, not only is it full of myth and legend, you’ll encounter light houses and a blue flagged beach along the way with a stunning views across the Menai strait and right up to Snowdonia plus the whole place is a nature reserve. There is a suggested walk here that you can follow:
Other things to do in the area:
- Be like the Go-Jetters and visit Caernarfon Castle
- Visit the longest place name in Europe (and second in the world) Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychrwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch
- Climb Snowden (or take the train up!)
Of course the National Trust doesn’t disappoint either and although there are always billions of things going on – these are a couple that caught my eye:
2 January (and other dates throughout) – Feed the Deer at Dyrham Park near Bath
2 January (and other dates throughout) – Spring Flowers and family trail at Lacock abbey near Chippenham
13 January 10:00-15:00– Scrub and spuds at Porthcothan Cliffs near Padstow. A family beach clean with a complimentary jacket potato baked on a bonfire
I’d love to hear if you’ve been to any of them of if this list inspires you to go! Happy exploring!!