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Northern England is teeming with hidden gems waiting to be discovered, and during the most magical month of the year there is no better time to explore this part of the country. From winter wonderlands to fascinating indoor museums, we have compiled our favourite destinations to visit up North this December.

1. Harrogate

December sees Harrogate transformed into a veritable winter wonderland, teaming with festivities, exciting events and beautiful Christmas markets. RHS Harlow Carr’s Glow is a stunning after-dark light display which sees existing features, such as Streamside, Doric Columns and the Queen Mother’s Lake made even more spectacular with the addition of lights and some magical festive sparkle. You can also enjoy a field of synchronised dancing lights that create an incredible pixel lawn.

What makes Harrogate special is the abundance of boutique shops and restaurants offering a unique Christmas shopping experience, meaning you will have the best gifts come Christmas Day. When all the festivities and shopping have worn you out, you can relax at the famous Turkish Baths, or indulge in a cream tea at one of the many charming independent cafes. Families will also find tons on offer including ice-skating and the chance to meet Santa Claus! The month of December is truly a magical time to visit Harrogate.

  • Christmas Activities
  • Family-friendly
  • Nearest Station: Harrogate

2.Durham Cathedral, Durham

There are eye-catching stained glass windows, great views and informative guided tours that let you explore this stunning building from every angle. Durham Cathedral is more than just a place to worship - it also has fantastic interactive exhibits that take you on a journey through time with all kinds of artefacts on show as well as interactive displays. After all the excitement of the day, you can relax and refuel at The Undercroft restaurant onsite. This historic place has so much to offer, and if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre then Durham Cathedral is definitely worth checking out!

3. Discovery Museum, Newcastle

Discovery Museum is a fab day out for adults and kids alike, providing fun for the whole family. There are self-guided trails that explore the local history of Newcastle, so you can get to know the city better. The Discovery Museum has many intriguing exhibits, including the 34-metre steam-powered ship which is a sight to behold. Not to mention the Maritime Gallery, which showcases the living conditions aboard ships, and fascinating models of lifeboats and other equipment used during World War II. The museum also has exhibitions showcasing the natural environment of Tyneside, which is not to be missed. With so much to see and do you won’t want to forgo a pit stop at the charming onsite cafe to rest and refuel after an exciting day out.

4. National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

The National Science and Media Museum is a fascinating museum at the forefront of science and digital media exploration in the UK. It has a whopping 8 floors of exhibition space and 3 million objects of cultural significance, so you certainly won’t be bored here.

The museum's extensive collections include film and television history, photography, interactive exhibits on science and technology, radio broadcasting equipment and demonstrations, models of historic scientific instruments, artworks by leading contemporary artists working with new media technologies, vintage children's television programmes from around the world on video cassettes, DVDs or VHS tapes. If that wasn’t enough to excite you then you can join one of the many talks or workshops, or even join the Café Scientifique discussion salons! With such an array of things to discover you might not have time to fit it all into your inspiring day out, so it’s worth bringing lunch to enjoy in the picnic areas, or if you didn’t fancy that you could grab a bite to eat at the delicious onsite cafe.


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5. Nottingham Christmas Market

As Nottingham is home to the East Midlands biggest and best Christmas market ‘Nottingham Wonderland’ we had to include it in our list of things to do in December. The Christmas market is a German-style market with wooden huts, toffee apples, and your favourite winter warmers. It is the perfect place to squeeze in some last-minute Christmas shopping, or just to enjoy the festive atmosphere with the little ones.

This year, the market will be bigger and better than ever before with a stunning 60ft tree, it will be the perfect backdrop to your family Christmas card photo! There is a massive ferris wheel which will give beautiful views over the Nottingham Winter Wonderland. There’s plenty for the kids to enjoy after you’ve grabbed those last minute gifts, with a family-friendly ice-skating rink and of course plenty of chances to see Father Christmas himself. The Nottingham Christmas market is an absolute must-do in December.


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That rounds off our epic list of things to do in the North this December. There are so many unique and inspiring places to visit in the North that are perfect for any weather. What’s more, you can visit all the best places via the Northern Rail train network! So you can leave the stress of driving behind and make the most of your exciting day out, wherever you choose to discover.

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