The cold air, the rolling pastures and quaint thatch-covered cottages, Wiltshire during Christmas time is the subject of postcards, oil paintings and seasonal lore. This festive season, you and your family should find your way to Wiltshire to experience a true Country Christmas.
With so many holiday cottages in Wiltshire to choose from, you can find yourself at the centre of a winter wonderland. From your well-appointed holiday home, you can visit the farms, attractions and markets that make Christmas in this county so special.
Here are just a few things to look forward to in Wiltshire this Christmas:
Salisbury Cathedral at Christmas
There may be nowhere in all of Wiltshire – perhaps England – that defines Christmas more than the grand Salisbury Cathedral. For the festive season, there is a whole host of events to capture the spirit.
Things kick off at the cathedral with a celebration of J.S. Bach's “Christmas Oratorio” on 12 December. The Cathedral Choir will perform alongside a period orchestra. Written expressly for the Christmas season in 1734, the musical performance will be highlighted by solo performances by Helen Meyerhoff, William Purefoy, Ben Alden and Christopher Foster.
On the following day, 13 December, BBC Wiltshire returns to the cathedral to join the Cathedral Choir and the Junior Choir for a radio broadcast of Christmas carols.
Lasting almost until the stroke of Christmas, the cathedral is hosting Christmas Twilight Tower tours. Until 23 December, visitors will be able to climb the 332 steps to the base of the cathedral spire. From that vantage point, you will get spectacular views of Salisbury – especially the Christmas illuminations at twilight. After the climb, there will be cream teas served in the Refectory. If that isn’t enough, a Choral Evensong caps off the event.
On your way to enjoy the activities in the cathedral, be sure to enjoy the fantastic Christmas shopping just outside its doors. The Salisbury Christmas Market is one of the biggest in the UK and exudes Wiltshire charm.
This year, Christmas Market organisers are hoping to boost local business across Salisbury. On 3 December, the market is hosting a Lantern Parade that will mark the arrival of Father Christmas in town. There will be many other acts performing around the Christmas Market and the city centre, including ice carvers, acrobats, choirs, comedy acts, magicians and illusionists… and don’t forget Santa’s post box!
All year round, Longleat Safari and Adventure Park is a crowd favourite. For over 60 years, the park has entertained with over 20 attractions, including Penguin Island, The Jungle Cruise, Monkey Temple and the stunning Longleat House. But at Christmastime, Longleat is transformed into a wonderland with stunning visual displays and attractions.
The park will celebrate Far East traditions with the Festival of Light. Thousands of Chinese lanterns will light up the Wiltshire landscape. Handcrafted in silk by Chinese artists, there are hundreds of new lanterns and iconic Chinese scenes to experience and enjoy. There will also be lantern representations of Longleat’s animal residents. Organisers invite visitors to discover the famous Terracotta Army, the Great Wall of China and the mischievous Monkey King.
Running until 3 January, the entire spectacle uses Longleat House as an amazing backdrop. There will also be a Chinese Market selling traditional crafts and gifts. Visitors can also enjoy a Christmas train ride through the park. If that isn’t enough, an outdoor ice skating rink has also been installed for visitors to enjoy. There are also Christmas-themed safaris to enjoy the animals in their winter habitats.
East Farm Christmas
The Strattons have operated their family farm for three generations and love celebrating Christmas in the heart of Wiltshire farming country. At the East Farm in Codford, this working farm is turned into a Christmas paradise with a festive barn conversion, Christmas shop, and special guests.
During the rest of the year, the farm produces wheat for Hovis, barley for Carlsberg, and milk for Sainsbury’s. But each Christmas, they transform one of their barns into an extensive Christmas shop with gifts, baubles and decorations for you to enjoy. They stock some of the most beautiful glass baubles and flashing lights available. They have a magical tree display to help give you some ideas for your own tree at home.
Speaking of Christmas trees, there are plenty available on the farm. They are grown and sourced locally, and are top-quality Nordmann firs. There is a children’s play area to keep the little ones entertained, and a café where you can enjoy some light refreshments.
Main Image Credit: brunifia