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Christmas 2020 survival guide

Feeling festive fatigue at the thought of a washout Christmas? Noël might look different this year, but we've rounded up Here's how to put the sparkle into Christmas 2020.

We’re embracing the 2020 Christmas-lite vibe and looking on the bright side. Just think … no rubbish office parties, or faffing with 99 different dietary requirements for Christmas lunch or running yourself so ragged you resemble The Grinch’s sister by 25 Dec. Instead, this is the year of starting new traditions, focusing on just the important things, and looking forward to a bright, shiny new 2021. Shall we? …

See the lights

Whilst there’s no official Christmas lights switch-on in Cheltenham this year, the town will be a-glow with glittering baubles hung from trees on the main Prom, twinkling lights in the trees, reindeer, stars and harps on lampposts, of an look out for a new Christmas tree on Montpellier roundabout. Check out what’s on here.

Sudeley Castle’s beautiful Spectacle of Light trail is back for the fifth year and it’s always a huge hit and fabulous visit. Pre-book a trip to its lit gardens with illuminated ruins for a for an evening of music and light. This year The Nutcracker features with a field of fire along the way. Top the evening off with a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate and some hot food. From Friday 4 to Wednesday 30 December 2020.

The Cotswold Farm park is a firm family fave so why not head down to see its new Enchanted Light Trail. Experience the farm after dark with an illuminated display full of light and sound, including static and interactive installations. There’s also a festive shop and plenty of places to stop for food and drink along the way. From Thursday 3 December 2020 to Friday 1 January 2021. Tickets must be pre-booked.

An Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum is back for 2020, with a new illuminated light trail leading to West Pole – Santa’s outpost in the Cotswolds don’t you know. Have tons of fun watching the twinkling lights, elves (hard at work) and even a pop-in from Father Christmas himself. There are fairground rides and a fabulous Christmas village to browse for treats, hot chocolate and more. From Friday 4 to Monday 21 December 2020.

Cirencester’s large twinkly Christmas tree is up now, a lovely visit, go admire it and grab a hot chocolate from the market as you wander around.

In Stroud the Five Valleys Shopping Centre is a joy to wander through too – it has its glamorous Christmas lights up and trees lining the stalls, pick up some festive Panettone from Non Solo Pasta and even your Christmas turkey from Waghorn’s Butchers here. Also, again no official switch on, but visit both Gloucester and Tewkesbury for more twinkly trees and town centre sparkle.

Over in Tetbury the town is holding a virtual Christmas lights switch-on this year (watch this space for confirmed details). Tetbury is also hosting a Christmas Tree Festival with gorgeously decorated trees from local businesses, clubs and organisations displayed at St Saviour’s Church. The virtual switch-on is set to happen on Friday 4 December 2020.

Take a trip on a twinkly train at Perrygrove Railway Twilight Express from 4 December to 23 December. This fun train will take you around the illuminated woods with a pit stop to see Santa (you’ll even get a gift along the way and a free hot chocolate). Pre -book your tickets for up to a compartment of six people (all with glass screens for safety).

Over in Malvern in Worcs the Three Counties Showground is being transformed into a dazzling outdoor illuminations trail for Malvern Winter Glow. See light installations inspired by the landscape, history and heritage of the local area, with a selection of seasonal food and drink on offer too. Lucky visitors might even get a glimpse of Santa! from Wednesday 9 December 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021.

One of Muddy’s fave twinkly trips at this time of year is to Blenheim Palace, and this year this stunning spread is home to the Illuminated Light Trail once again. There may not be a market this year or a big theme inside the house but there will be stunning Christmas trees to admire. Expect premium sparkles, a scented fire garden, Will-o-the-Wisps and more. From Friday 4 December 2020 to Sunday 3 January 2021.

Perfect too for getting into the Christmas spirit is Painswick Rococo Garden which is opening for festive outdoor celebrations from Saturday 5 to Sunday 6 December 2020.

There will be a whole range of real Christmas trees at the pop-up event, with a dedicated team on hand to help shoppers pick their festive fir. Christmas trees can be pre-ordered to collect via The Nursery at Miserden’s website.

Families can also enjoy the brand-new ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ trail through Rococo Garden’s stunning grounds. Inspired by the famous carol, search high and low for gold rings, lords-a-leaping and, of course, a partridge in a pear tree.

Plus, pick up a seasonal treat from the café, including mulled wine and search for Christmas gift inspo at the shop – with Rococo’s homemade chutneys, jams and honey. There’s also word there might be live, socially-distanced carol singing too.

For more ideas on where to get a tree see our round-up here.

See a show

See Tweedy’s Reduced Pantomine (That might go a bit wrong). Sounds like a hoot, and running from 04 December to 03 January 2021. Or book some seats at Cirencester’s The Barn Theatre where this years festive offering is the brilliant Peter Pan until 03 January. Oodles of pixie dust are guaranteed in a night filled with magic and music as the venue gets transformed into Neverland. Over in Worcs head to the Malvern Theatre for a showing of The Snow Goose, a tale of 1940s wartime hope and love running between 15 and 19 December.

The Sub Rooms

The ever innovative Sub Rooms in Stroud have a brilliant and original installation called Everything is Light on until 18 December. Tickets are only £3 – £5 and it’s a fantastic family attraction featuring a maze of illuminated tunnels and hidden rooms bathed in colour – all from the unbridled imagination of Jack Wimperis.

Get dressed up

Who said Christmas 2020 has to be all elasticated waistbands and slobby joggers? Not us this year – you’ll find us dressing like up like divas (and why the heck not!) if you’re stuck for something to wear head to Sue Parkinson in Cirencester, this amazing boutique stuffed with drool-worthy dresses and more has 20% of EVERYTHING at the moment (*grabs coat*). I’ve got my eye on this thrillingly lame number by Swildens. Or check out Sub Couture in Stroud, which has the most gorgeous outfits for the big day, plus the dream coats for that much needed Boxing Day walk. Plus enjoy 20% off at the moment too. Quids in.

Create your own wine cellar

Going out and getting all shades of tipsy may be out of the frame but we have the perfect solution! And hey it’ll save on the taxi fares right. Make the most of staying in and splash out on some excellent wine to keep all to yourself. LEVIN Wines has put together an specially curated Muddy six-pack to see you through the season – just use code FESTIVE for a £40 discount and free shipping. And if you want to keep it super local and help out a Glos grower, why not order a crate that’ll look great on the Christmas table from Stroud-based vinery and shop Woodchester Vineyard. I personally love their sparkling Classic Cuvee, a Pinot blend that’s perfect for a toast or the Cotswold Classic, a sparkling floral white great for the main event.

Festive drive-ins and pantos

uckle up, don the bauble earrings (no one will see you it’s dark) and let’s go.

Christmas Drive-In Cinema, Bristol

The place:Adventure Cinema, Old Filton Airfield, Gloucester Road North, BS34 7QD

The date: 11 Dec to 23 Dec

The flicks: This is a great one for catching a family film. Park up for the likes of Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Gremlins and more. We hear spaces are limited so jump on this one pronto. Contact-free and social-distance friendly with additional measures put in place for a safe event experience, plus freshly cooked food and hot drinks and toilets available on site.

Car Park PantoHorrible Histories Live on Stage, Cheltenham

The place: Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Evesham Rd, Cheltenham GL50 4SH

The date: Mon 21 Dec

The show: Someone’s come up with the genius idea of a Christmas panto drive-in and why the heck not! We are told this is a world first, with Horrible Histories guaranteed to banish that lingering 2020 fatigue with their own unique take on the season. There are live showings of Car Park Panto at 2pm and 5pm. Tickets are priced at £45 per car. Get booking. If you miss it here, it’s showing in Bristol on 19 December too.

PLUS … Another Glos world first. Head to Cheltenham Racecourse on Sat 19 Dec for a Drive-In Fireworks Spectacular, the county’s first ever drive-in firework display no less.

Just buy a ticket for your car, park up and enjoy an awe-inspiring, professional firework display from the warmth of your own car – or the socially distanced area in front of it. Roll your window down and let the party begin. Glow sticks totally appropriate.

Swindon Christmas Drive-In Experience, Swindon

The place: Swindon Designer Outlet, McArthur Glen Outlet, Swindon, SN2 2DY

The date: Mon 7 Dec to 13 Dec

The flicks: There’s an all-age offering at the Outlet this December with classics for young and old showing. There is space for thousands of movie fans at this giant car park handily located just off the A417. Expect one of the largest LED cinema screens in the UK with the very best sound sent direct to your car radio. As well as all safety guidelines in place, should it not take place a full refund policy is in place.

Pretty up the house

Why not book into a wreath-making class or order a kit to make your own one at home (Muddy did, see my efforts here!).

Wreath-Making Kit, Petal & Pad, Worcester, 27 November to 2 December

Order a gorgeous wreath-making kit from indie boutique Petal & Pad, collect from the boutique and you’ll have a hand-made statement wreath of dreams in a jiffy. The kit comes with everything you need including a 12-inch frame, wire, fragrant foliage such as spruce and eucalyptus, rustic birch twigs, holly and ivy and some delicious smelling cinnamon sticks. Finish it off with one metre of your choice of Berisford velvet ribbon. Oh, and there’s also a Christmas treat inside each box too. And these guys have thought of everything – you’ll get instructions and a link to a video tutorial to help you along the way. Costs £45.

Christmas Wreath and Garland Workshop, The Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, Chipping Campden, 14 December

Whip up a wow-factor wreath or garland at this IRL workshop led by experienced tutors. You will create and decorate your own stunning natural wreath made from seasonal spruce, natural materials and foliage. There will be plenty of  gorgeous decorations to choose from to adorn your wreath, ranging from dried fruits and cones to berries and ribbons. The class lasts three hours and costs £115.

Make a Pom-Pom Wreath, John Lewis, Glos, free

Go bonkers this year and make a wool pom-pom wreath instead. This free event takes place via Zoom with John Lewis’ craft experts, all you need to do is pre-purchase the kit and then the online live workshops will help you make it, ta da! Buy one of the three fantastic kits in order to attend this workshop, which will provide you with a wooden frame, cable ties and all the super chunky wool you will need to create a fun wreath. Choose from a Christmas pudding, a heart or this fabulously quirky green creation (we think it looks like Brussel sprouts!). Your Zoom link will be sent to you two days before the event. Perfect for beginners. Kits cost just £20.

Christmas Wreath and Garland Making Workshop, Daylesford, Kingham, Sat 17 December

Jazz up your door, mantelpiece or stairwell with a wreath made from Daylesford Organic Farm’s homegrown foliage. The farm’s expert florists will show you how to make seasonal wreaths and garlands using natural greenery and blooms foraged from the Cutting Garden here. Weather permitting you’ll get to pick your own so bring your outdoor boots and coat just in case. From 9.30am to 1pm, workshops costs £135.

Wreath-Making Masterclass with Festive Afternoon Tea, Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham, 7 to 20 December.

Donna Beaver from the Flower Studio has dressed Ellenborough Park each Christmas and now she’s bringing her stylish wreath making masterclass to the masses. Starting with a glass of mulled wine and festive afternoon tea, Donna will help you create a show stopping wreath for your front door this Christmas. This lovely workshop includes a full festive afternoon tea, glass of mulled wine and everything you need for the wreath.

Wreath-Making Workshop, New Brewery Arts, Cirencester

Spend two hours creating your own wreath at this creative hub on Sat 05 December. Learn how to bind moss to a wire frame, attach sprigs of spruce and add special elements such as cinnamon twigs, dried orange segments and pinecones. Each wreath will be individual and as it will be made using moss the wreath will last throughout the festive period. Expert tutors Paul and Janice Viner are your guides for the session which lasts two hours and costs £55.

Wreath-Making Kits, The Sodbury Florist, South Glos

This lovely wreath making kit is almost good enough to eat. It comes with an easy to use step-by-step guide to follow and includes a 12-inch wire frame, wire, moss, seasonal foliage such as eucalyptus and pine, and then diviine smelling cinnamon, chunky dried fruit slices and topped off with a ribbon colour of your choice. All you need is a pair of snippers. Kits will be delivered from Sat 28 November and cost £30.

Create Your Own Wreath Workshop, Hopmarket Flowers, Worcester, 3 – 6 December

Create your own beautiful decor at this socially distanced workshop. Watch as the experts demonstrate how they are made while you enjoy a glass of mulled wine or a coffee then create your own with foliage, berries and more. No previous experience necessary. Costs £40.

And finally, cheer up your indoors even more with a lovely plant from Junglist Atelier in Nailsworth. This super-cool botanical studio has a special ‘Natural High’ plants promo on at the moment, so you can have an instant, energising pick-me-up plant during the cold dark winter months such as a lush green Monstera or a lovely Peperomia Rosso.

Keep calm and carry on!

Let’s face it, Christmas can be stressful enough without the anxiety of a global pandemic factored in, so this year you absolutely have permission to write the whole thing off.

Strip back anything you don’t deem essential, limit family visits if it’ll keep you sane, try and get some Vitamin D where possible, and remember that in years to come, this will all be a distant memory.

We say cin cin to that!

Find more ideas here

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