Area Guides

Top 10 Things to do in the New Forest in December

A wonderful thing about the New Forest is that there’s far more to it than its miles of ancient woodland, spectacular sunsets, and endearing ponies. There’s the closeness of its quaint villages and festiveness of its local events, its deep connection with tradition and history, and its warm welcome to all that makes it even more special.

So as another year draws to a close there’s a feeling that this winter may just be extra special. Whilst togetherness, celebration and making the most of now feels more important than ever this December, come, and explore our New Forest National Park.

1. Plan your festive lunches

If a more intimate approach to the festive season is on your mind, Christmas lunch in the New Forest is a perfect way to pace out the festivities. Let’s be honest, hosting Christmas Day can get a little stressful so why give all of your energy to one busy day when you can spend time with friends, colleagues, and family throughout December.

Plan smaller get-togethers and drive through a wintery landscape to a New Forest Hotel where you can warm up in front of a roaring fire and feast on delicious festive food at Cambium. You could be sitting down to a rillette of chalk streamed trout, a classic roasted turkey with chestnut and sage stuffing, and a traditional Christmas pudding with lashings of brandy custard… And don’t forget Fairtrade organic coffee and mince pies to finish. Plus, zero washing up!

2. Let the forest soothe and renew

Whether you’re away on a New Forest hotel break or simply visiting for the day there’s nothing like a walk through an ancient woodland on a crisp winter’s day with the crunch of the frosty ground under foot.

In fact, the Japanese practice of ‘shinrin-yoku’ or forest ‘bathing’, has shown to be beneficial to both mental and physical wellbeing and can help to reduce stress and boost the immune system. So let the serene woodlands and wintery heathlands of the New Forest, with its cerulean blue sky and warm winter sun elevate your mood, enliven the senses, and clear the mind.,

Head to the Blackwater Arboretum, walk amongst the some of the oldest giants in the forest and let them do their magic. And when it’s time to warm up, there could just be a cosy spot in front of the fire waiting for you back at Careys Manor.

3. Spend an afternoon drinking tea

A special treat or a simply the perfect opportunity to catch up. An Afternoon Tea is one for all; for friends reconnecting, grandmothers who love tradition, or for couples to enjoy a little time just for them.

A Christmas Afternoon Tea invites all that is special about the quintessential pastime and blends it with the warmth of winter indulgence. This is a ‘sit in a cosy lounge, sip tea, eat cake and chat’ kind of a thing, and it will be one of your favourites.

4 Book a treat for the body and soul

When temperatures drop and the bustle of the festive season ensues, tension can build, and the cold can have us has us wrapped up and wound tight so it’s important to remember a little self-preservation and self-care.

Just an hour massage or treatment can be all we need to reset and feel at ease. Or perhaps you’re thinking of someone who deserves a little time out for them, the chance to stop, relax and feel restored.

SenSpa is a place of calm, with therapies designed to relax or reinvigorate, whatever your mind and body requires.

5 A spot of festive shopping

Christmas shopping in the New Forest is quite a different experience. During your time here we recommend forgetting big shopping centres, traffic and stress and heading to the nearby market town of Lymington or the quintessential English villages of Burley, Lyndhurst, or Beaulieu, all just a few miles away. December sees them all decorated in their festive glory, making it a truly jolly experience. There are plenty of cosy cafes to stop in on the way and independent shops and designer boutiques for unique and personal gifts for your extra special people.

It’s Christmas shopping as you’ve always dreamed it!

6. Plan your escape

December is often a whirlwind of social activity and festive events and as much as we love to see friends and family, socialising can be exhausting (especially of late) so why not make an escape plan and give yourself a chance to breathe.

Our spa hotel could be the answer to that long-awaited reset or relaxing weekend just for two that you’ve been talking about for months.

There is no better time than now, with Christmas hotel packages to suit any guest and 3 nights for the price of 2, whether you’re longing for the warmth of a spa, fresh winter walks and a spot of forest therapy or just having space to breathe, peaceful sleep and a little bit of ‘you time’.

7. Discover New Forest activities

The New Forest is known and loved for its proximity to a world of activities whether you’re seeking adventures on land or water.

Try outdoor laser tag, high and low ropes, kayaking or cycling. With over one hundred miles of compacted gravel forest cycling trails, you can get out and get moving; our New Forest hotel will be your base for adventure – bring your bike or hire one when you’re here. For those seeking a slower pace to their action, there’s archery or ‘Winter Paddling’. Meander down the Beaulieu River in a Canadian canoe with New Forest Activities, just one of many options for your winter visit.

Whatever you choose there’s always a cosy manor house hotel to warm up in after.

8. Book a local attraction

Our New Forest Hotel is right where you need it to be when it comes to exciting attractions, interactive museums, and local history. There’s Beaulieu Motor Museum, with its glorious motoring exhibits, Abbey, and Victorian Palace House, the 18th century shipbuilding yard turned immersive museum that is Buckler’s Hard, and Hurst Castle, a 16th century artillery fortress established by Henry VIII – to name but a few!

9 Join in with local festivities

Christmas in the New Forest means an abundance of festive events. In nearby Beaulieu, there are exclusive events and seasonal attractions, from the new Bond in Motion – No Time To Die exhibition and the Artisan Collective Fair to their ‘Victorian Christmas’ experience at Palace House and the delightful production of ‘A Christmas Carol’.

At Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway there is a New Forest Christmas Fair to be held on two weekends in December; peruse the stalls, stroll around their beautiful gardens, and even take a ride on the steam train. And on the 11th of December there’s the Lymington Town Band Christmas Concert in the high street.

Plan your festivities now!

10. Explore land and sea
When you stand in our beautiful National Park surrounding by ancient trees and New Forest ponies you would never believe you were so close to the coast.
Enjoy the best of both worlds and go from woodland to seashore in a matter of minutes; walk the cliffs of Milford-On-Sea, grab fish & chips on the quay at Lymington or walk the stony shore of Lepe Beach, part of Lepe Country Park and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.