Whether you can hop away for a whole week of relaxation or a flying Saturday night is all you have spare, the best Lake District Christmas breaks will be relaxing, restorative, and re-energising.
Whether a relaxing weekend means hiking a Wainwright or two, a wild swim, an amble around a charming Lake District village, or supping something tasty in front of a roaring fire in a traditional Lake District pub, the Lakes is the perfect break for you! Read on for our list of the best Lake District Christmas Breaks to give you plenty of festive inspiration!
Staveley: tasty treats and tarns
This fab little Lakes village has a bustling life, attracting lots of outdoorsy types – both local and from further afield – when the weekend arrives. It is also accessible by train – unlike so many villages settled further into the Lake District. Get direct to Windermere and Oxenholme – making this lovely village a ‘weekend away’ possibility even from London (Euston to Oxenholme is a direct service). Dark grey Lakes stone sits against a young, enthusiastic population, in a village filled with great independent businesses.
Before a bracing walk up to Potter’s Tarn and Gurnal Dubs, or a cycle out to the quaint little church at Kentmere, arm yourself with a fab breakfast courtesy of More? Bakery. The bhaji bap is a particular favourite – though they are also renowned for their fab Viennoiserie, from plain Pain au Chocolat or almond croissants to their seasonal specials. After hiking up to the tarns which tower over the village atop the rugged hillside (some even enjoy a bracing dip!), come back down to Hawkshead Brewery. As well as brewing up arguably some of the county’s best beers, the beer hall also serves up a range of snacks and nibbles to perfectly complement your beers – think loaded fries, pork pies, sausage rolls, and mini mezze. Pop into McDuffins for a great coffee before you hop on your train back home – weekend away complete!
TIP: catch the Christmas lights turn on on the 3rd of December and see the whole village taking part in the celebrations.
Check out this gorgeous three-bedroom cottage within walking distance from the village, complete with cosy woodburning stove.
Rydal: literature and lakes
Head up to Rydal Water to be ‘in the thick of it’, with so much on your doorstep, whilst feeling off the beaten track. Only a few miles from the north shores of Lake Windermere and the hubbub of the bustling town of Ambleside, Rydal provides a moment to step back in time, and to take in that beautiful Lakes scenery. Take the 4.5km walk around Rydal’s shores, for a scenic amble that should be doable for most of the family. A short detour to Rydal Cave is a must. Then head up to visit Rydal Mount, the historic family home of William Wordsworth, and in clement weather, head up to the tarn – a super spot for wild swimming.
TIP: Visit Rydal Mount on the 2nd and 3rd of December and you’ll enjoy the glimmer and sparkle of a Christmas market included in the price of your ticket.
Dent: wind back the clock
The picturesque village of Dent feels like something from Harry Potter. Climb the winding cobbled streets to the ancient church in the centre of this Dales village (and bear in mind that the station is in fact 1.5km away, when booking your arrival!). The two pubs are warm and welcoming, and the Dent Village Heritage Centre gives a fascinating tale of the history of the place, from the 12th-century church to the marble (its biggest export), via ‘the Terrible Knitters of Dent’! The perfect place to stop over whilst undertaking the challenge of ‘the Three Peaks’ – Pen Y Ghent, Ingleborough, and Whernside – Dent is also a perfect stopover on the Dales Way – which runs close by the village.
TIP: Visit Dent on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of December to enjoy a festive weekend of traditional carol singing at the Folk Carols Festival, encompassing medieval carols, folk carols, Sheffield pub carols, and carols from other countries.
Stay at one of the village’s pubs, The Sun Inn, for roaring fires and CAMRA ales.
Keswick: hike hard, play hard
Spectacular Lakeland mountains surround the market town of Keswick, so is a bit of a mecca for outdoorsy types looking for a weekend of active fun. If you’re with kids, or looking for a gateway Wainwright to kick things off, hiking Cat Bells is a great place to start. Just 3 miles but heading straight up for much of the first half of the walk, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Derwentwater below, with only minimal scrambling near the peak. A walk along Derwentwater is a great option for a walk with less incline. Once you’re all hiked out, head back into the sparkle of Keswick decked out in its Christmas lights, and opt for one of the lively, modern pubs for some great grub and drinks too – Fellpack’s set of three restaurants ensure there’s something that will appeal to every member of the family. Take in a spot of culture at Theatre by the Lake, where the stage is graced with all types of entertainment, from musicals to plays, family-friendly fun to comedy to films.
TIP: to really get the adrenaline pumping with some extreme active fun, book a ghyll scrambling course or a via ferrata excursion!
Return to the tranquility of the Hazeldene B&B – recent stylish renovations and spectacular views from every direction make it a wonderful retreat.
Windermere: Lake District luxury
The town of Windermere, set on Lake Windermere, is always a hub for Lake District visits. As well as being easily accessible (get a direct connection from Oxenholme to Windermere), it is many people’s first Lake District lake exposure. The largest lake in England, Windermere offers plenty of boat trips through the summer but is an altogether more tranquil place when the seasons turn. A trip to the Jetty Museum allows you to marvel at a beautiful, serene piece of architecture, as well as take in their exhibits and enjoy some replenishment from the cafe. The World of Beatrix Potter is a sure-fire hit with younger members of the family, whilst fairer weather makes Brockhole a great day of family fun (a large playground and the grounds are free to access, but there is also an aerial trampoline park amongst the trees and a treetop trek for the more adventurous, and activities such as archery and mini golf, for an extra cost). Take in brunch and a coffee at the brilliant Homeground, or later in the day head to The Crafty Baa for something a little stronger.
TIP: head to Miller Ground for a frosty lakeside walk, or a great spot for a wild swim.
For a truly one-of-a-kind weekend of luxury, stay at the beautiful Linthwaite House Hotel in Bowness-in-Windermere With views over the lake, beautiful gardens (it even has its own tarn, and rowing boats!), and a wonderful, modern restaurant Henrock courtesy of Simon Rogan, it’ll make for a real weekend to remember.
Carlisle: city stopover
If you’re looking for something a little less rural and a little more urban, the small city of Carlisle might be just the Lake District break for you. Only eight miles south of the Scottish border, Carlisle is a cultural hub with plenty to keep you busy. Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery is a must-visit for immersion in history and art. With an impressive set of Pre-Raphaelite art, an amazing natural science collection, and artefacts covering over 10,000 years of human history! With one million items, there’s so much to see, whatever your interests – but without feeling overwhelming. Enjoy a visit to the 900-year-old Grade I-listed cathedral (second smallest of England’s ancient cathedrals), or to Carlisle Castle – a stone keep medieval fortress near to the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall.
TIP: to enjoy the festive feel of those German Christkindlmarkt-inspired Alpine chalets, along with a gluhwein and a bratwurst, head to Carlisle’s Christmas market, from 1st to 17th December.
Stay at The Halston Aparthotel for a grand and modern, self-catering accommodation to return to after a day of culture and Christmas shopping!
Hopefully, our list of the best Lake District Christmas breaks will give you a little inspiration for a treat away this festive season, and a good opportunity to spend some time with the people you love the most.