Dog-friendly Christmas breaks

Whether you want to get away for Christmas day or you just fancy a pre- or post-Christmas escape, dog-friendly getaways at this time of year can be fantastic. Almost all of the UK’s glorious sandy and pebbly beaches are open for dogs during December, as summer restrictions lift every October. And hundreds of Christmas markets are set up around the country to tempt you into a mulled wine, gingerbread biscuit or German bratwurst. If you’re planning a dog-friendly holiday this Christmas, here’s where to take the hound.

Written by Lottie Gross

5 minute read

Dog friendly shopping centres

Best dog-friendly Christmas break for markets: The South Downs National Park

One of the highlights of the festive season is exploring the myriad stalls at local Christmas markets, while sampling a little mulled wine or nibbling on festive treats. There are hundreds of places to do this in Britain, but the best place for dogs is in or around the South Downs National Park. You can hit the trails for big morning walks each day and explore the brilliant markets all across the region's towns, villages and country estates. Favourites include Chichester Christmas Market, Petworth's Christmas Cracker, and Brighton Christmas Market.

Best dog-friendly Christmas break for shopping: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

If you need to get those last few gifts for friends and family, Bury St Edmunds has plenty of lovely little independent stores and high street chains to fulfil the brief. And what's more, many of them are dog friendly. Look out for the green "dogfriendlybse" stickers in the windows of shops, restaurants and cafes and that will tell you which stores will let your pet inside. We love Javelin for clothing, shoes and accessories, and Luna House Boutique for unique vintage and retro finds.

While you're in town, walk the dog around the gorgeous Abbey Gardens where the ruins of an 11th-century abbey are an atmospheric spot for a hot coffee on a bench. Head into the cathedral to see its fabulous stained glass windows and spectacular vaulted ceilings.

Best dog-friendly Christmas break for reactive/nervous dogs: Mousehole, Cornwall

If your dog prefers a more low-key Christmas holiday, Mousehole could be the ideal escape from the hubbub of Christmas markets and twinkling towns. This tiny little village on the south coast of Cornwall is famous for its quirky Christmas lights display right on the harbour. Come down after dark and you'll spot lizard-like monsters, tall-ships and breaching whales in the water by the beach, and the harbour walls will be lined with fir trees and a small church -- all made from cleverly-constructed lights. 

During the daytime, you can walk on the rugged coast path to remote beaches like Porthcurno, Porthchapel and Porthgwarra, which will likely be extremely quiet during the winter season, or nip into Newlyn for a spot of Christmas shopping and a mooch around the dog-friendly art gallery.

A dog sitting in front of a fire

Best for cosy pubs with Christmas dinner: the Cotswolds

It doesn't really matter where you go in the Cotswolds, there will be quaint villages and cosy pubs serving Christmas dinners aplenty in every corner. Our very own Cottage at Feathered Nest is handily located right next door to one of the region's most excellent pubs. There's a log fire in the bar and exceptional dining to be done in the main restaurant (try the tasting menu with a wine pairing if you're feeling flush). 

In the south Cotswolds, Tetbury is a gorgeous little village with a brilliant pet shop for treating the dog to something special, and some brilliant pubs like The Snooty Fox and the Royal Oak. For Cotswolds walks nearby, the vast, sprawling Westonbirt Arboretum has trails for miles and off-lead areas for dogs with good recall.

Best dog-friendly Christmas break for grinches: Aberdeenshire

Not everyone loves Christmas, and not everyone celebrates it either, so if you want to get away from it all then head up to Aberdeenshire. This northern Scottish region isn't entirely anti-Christmas -- you will find lovely lights displays and towering fir trees in its capital, Aberdeen -- but it's a vast and sprawling area where it's easy to get away from all the chaos and consumerism that Christmas can bring in more populated areas. Enjoy long walks on the coastline's sandy beaches (Newburgh is especially excellent but beware of seals), and escape from the Christmas buzz in the wilderness of the Cairngorms National Park and the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve.

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Written by Lottie Gross

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