Christmas in Hampshire for those that hate Christmas
PUBLISHED: 11:42 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:45 22 February 2018
Let’s face it, not everyone loves the frenetic build up to Christmas. So for those wanting to escape the festive countdown, we’ve come up with some suggestions
‘It’s far too cold’
With plummeting temperatures and enough rain to make you want to stay inside, a spa is the perfect place to retreat to. There are plenty to choose from in Hampshire. The beautiful Herb House Spa at Lime Wood in Lyndhurst has a Winter Warmer spa day for £180 per person. Enjoy an indulgent body and face massage using a combination of Swedish massage techniques and warm volcanic stones, plus lunch, tea and cake and full use of the spa facilities. At The Four Seasons in Dogmersfield treat yourself with the Beeutiful Body Candle Massage. The Spa has teamed up with a local beekeeper and owner of natural skin-care line ‘Beeutiful’, to create a bespoke full-body massage using the brand’s Rose Spice body candle, made from beeswax. You can even have this one as a couple’s experience. It costs £130 per person for midweek.
‘Boo hiss to pantos’
Fed up of shouting ‘He’s behind you’ and ‘Oh no you didn’t’? How about a helping of comedy instead? Comedian Andy Parsons is at the Winchester Theatre Royal on December 15 for his ‘Peak Bullsh*t’ tour. Tickets cost £17 and the show starts at 7.30pm. Or try some classical ballet with The Nutcracker, which is playing at The Lights in Andover on December 16.
There’s a matinee and evening performance. Tickets are £18. The Kings Theatre in Southsea is showing the classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart, on December 19. Tickets cost £6 to £8. Alternatively, just three days before Christmas Day you could treat yourself to the retro tunes of UB40 at the O2 Guildhall in Southampton.
‘Everything costs too much’
The bank balance can look a little depressing by the time the Christmas holiday comes around. Everything has been spent on presents, food and drink. Over the festive season there’s really no need to fork out for a day out as there are plenty of free things to do. These include Southampton Art Gallery, the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, plus free Christmas markets with plenty of entertainment in Petersfield on December 3, Winchester until December 22, Southampton until December 23 and Alton’s Yuletide Festival on December 3.
Pick a cold and frosty morning to discover some of the county’s wildlife. The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust can guide you to a plethora of nature reserves in the county. Take a trip to the Keyhaven Marshes where you could see Brent Geese and Oyster Catchers, spot buzzards and woodpeckers at Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve near Bursledon, with over two-miles of pathways to explore, and enjoy festive fun at Alver Valley near Lee-on-the-Solent on December 15. Local expert Fred Gibson will be giving a talk, plus there will be yuletide treats and a festive quiz. There’s a suggested donation of £3 per person.
‘Turkey and Brussels sprouts: Yuk!’
Quay Fifteen restaurant at Shamrock Quays has a December menu that offers lots of alternatives to turkey. How about Ray Wing, Venison Haunch or Purple Gnocchi with Berry Mousse or Chocolate Terrine for afters? If you fancy avoiding meat altogether then visit Verveine in Milford on Sea for lunch. The award-winning restaurant offers dishes such as grilled megrim fillet and Roquefort, toasted fig sourdough and fizzy grapes.
If you’re the host this Christmas and want some new ideas, Newlyns Cookery School near Odiham is running a Christmas Express dinner parties course on December 16. Learn easy dishes to prepare in advance so you have plenty of time to spend with your loved ones. The five-hour course starts at 10am and costs £142. Season Cookery School at Lainston House also have Christmassy classes to choose from. If you’re not up on creating canapés, nibbles and party foods book yourself on their Preparing for Christmas: Entertaining course. It costs £155 and is run by chef Sylvain Gachot.
‘I hate the crowds’
Take off in the car or jump on the train to the New Forest for the day. There are countless walks and a cosy pub is never too far away for lunch by a fire. Bolderwood is particularly beautiful this season. Use the free car park in Ornamental Drive; from here pick up a trail and see if you can spot some deer. It’s one of the best places to catch a glimpse. Stay off the beaten track at Hampshire’s other National Park, the South Downs. Go online to download a guide to their Hidden Landscape Trails. Or discover the Secrets of the High Woods at Stansted Park, The Trundle and Kingley Vale.
Totford is recognised as being the smallest Hamlet in England, so avoid the people and reserve a table in front of the fire at the local public house, The Woolpack. It’s the perfect pub to end a country walk after exploring the picturesque Candover Valley. They buy local wherever possible for their seasonal menu and even do breakfasts if you want to charge up before you set off on a morning walk.