Alternative festive days out in Britain

From Norwegian wreath-making to Victorian cooking, there's plenty on offer that'll give an added sparkle to the Christmas season

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The Independent Travel

Forget the ice rinks and gluhwein stalls, there are more unique ways to get together with friends and family in the run-up to Christmas.

American Express has compiled a list of alternative experiences around the country, from hands-on activities to enchanting walks and festive films.

Flor Unikon Christmas Wreath Workshops

Learn how to make a Norwegian seasonal wreath at one of Flor Unikon’s workshops, using natural materials including spruce branches, berries, dried fruits and nuts. The workshops start with a demonstration of the unique wreath making technique before guests have the chance to get hands-on and make their own.

When: 20 November and 4 December

Where: Flor Unikon, London

How much: £55pp

69 Colebrooke Row Holiday Cocktail Masterclass

Join industry-leading mixologists as they teach guests about the history of cocktails at one of 69 Colebrook Row’s Holiday Cocktail Masterclasses. Find out how to make classics like the Daiquiri or a festive champagne cocktail.

When: 6 and 20 December

Where: 69 Colebrooke Row, London

How much: £40pp

Hampton Court Ghost Tours

Hampton Court Palace has set the scene for many historic events and this winter, the palace is offering those brave enough the chance to explore palace’s state apartments, deserted courtyards and eerie cloisters on a chilling late night ghost tour.

When: throughout December

Where: Hampton Court, Surrey

How much: £27.50pp

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Hampton Court Palace Ghost Tours

Fox & Squirrel London Photography Walks

On the Fox & Squirrel Street Photography Walk you will join expert photographers as they point out little known locations and views to reveal some of the best urban shots of London. Whether using a smartphone or SLR, the walk will help you take amazing photos of the capital at its festive best.

When: 13 December

Where: Camden, London

How much: £75

Burning the Clocks

Burning the Clocks is an annual parade of paper and willow lanterns that, for one night each year, brings a little magic to the streets of Brighton. After a procession through the city, the parade ends with a fire show on Brighton beach that the whole family can enjoy.

When: 21 December

Where: Brighton Beach, East Sussex

How much: free

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Burning The Clocks

Meet the real Dasher and Dancer

Visit Britain’s only herd of reindeer as they roam wild at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre at Glenmore in the Highlands. Guests can feed, stroke and get up close to the real life Rudolfs on one of the centre’s guided tours.

When: throughout November and December

Where: Aviemore, Inverness-Shire

How much: £13

Bude Christmas Day Swim

Grab your swimsuit and Santa hat and head down to this Cornish beach for a refreshing Christmas Day dip. Work up an appetite for Christmas lunch and join over 100 people in one of England’s most westerly, and wintery, yuletide swims.

When: Christmas Day

Where: Bude, Cornwall

How much: free

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Alice’s Adventures

Tumble down the rabbit hole with The Royal Ballet this Christmas as a live performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland hits cinemas across the country for one night only.

When: 16 December

Where: cinemas nationwide

How much: prices vary

Mrs Beeton’s Victorian Christmas

Take a trip to the beautiful Brodsworth Hall where Mrs Beeton will show visitors the ropes in the kitchen, offering hints and tips for how to create the perfect Victorian Christmas meal. Guests can taste, enjoy and take home recipes to share with friends and family.

When: 29-30 November

Where: Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, Doncaster

How much: £9.70 (non-members)

Gift Frippery

Make sure your gifts are as beautiful on the outside as they are in by taking part in a present wrapping course. Learn the basics and embellish your creations under the watchful eye of professional gift wrapper, Amanda.

When: Throughout November and December

Where: Bristol and surrounding area

How much: £25pp

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum

If one Christmas tree is simply not enough this year, visit the Enchanted Christmas trail at Westonbirt Arboretum. Don a festive jumper and pour yourself a hot chocolate while strolling through the mile-long illuminated tree trail.

When: 28 November - 21 December

Where: Westonbirt, Gloucestershire

How much: £10

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Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

Treat yourself to a traditional winter story of love and friendship with Irving Berlin’s much-loved musical, White Christmas. Visit the West Yorkshire Playhouse and sing along to Sisters, Blue Skies, I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm and of course, White Christmas.

When: throughout December

Where: West Yorkshire Playhouse

How much: £12-£33

Amex Insider Lauren Laverne is taking a peek into some of the more unusual and inspiring festive experiences on offer around the country. For more insider information on some of the UK’s other exciting events, visit youtube.com/AmericanExpressUK.

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