We’ve put the sprouts on, pre-ordered a truckload of prosecco and Love Actually is hovering happily on standby. All the tell-tale signs that Christmas is fast approaching! Whether you’re the epitome of ‘Christmas n chill’ or are the human version of that one malfunctioning bulb on the string of Christmas lights, who needs some of last year’s now-rather-potent-brandy to get into the swing of things, there’s no denying that Christmas is a hoot. And pups love it, too! It’s the perfect time of year to take a well-deserved break and have some fun festive pet-friendly adventures with your four-legged chum. And there’s plenty to pick from…
Nothing beats a Christmas market to get you in the festive mood. There are some lovely dog-friendly markets scattered across the country, which your pup can excitedly help you sniff the best out of. Full of glühwein, crepes, lovely traditional toys, delicious scents and did we mention glühwein, one of our favourites in London is the Belgravia Christmas Market (Sundays from 1st December, 11am – 5pm). There’s tonnes of cute boutique market sellers, choirs, brass bands and endless rows of delicious festive food. Right in the city, you’ll find London Bridge’s Christmas market (26th November – 5th January) where you and pup can find Christmas cocktails and hot ciders and craft beer. Perhaps the most famous London Christmas market other than Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, which might be a little too crowded for pups, is Winter at the Southbank Centre (8th November – 5th January). There’s nothing better than being on the Thames at Christmas time, where little chalets line the water selling crepes, piping hot mac ‘n’ cheese and traditional treats.
Make a weekend of it and book a stay at The Curtain and you’ll be perfectly positioned to take in the magic of Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday morning, which is sure to be filled with festive cheer and blooms in equal measure.
Elsewhere, Birmingham’s Floating Christmas Market (5th – 8th December) is a lovely, quirky market to explore. Hosted on canal boats, the market serves delicious mulled wine and sweet treats from the wintery waterside. The Christmas market in Winchester (21st November – 22nd December) is another unique find as it is situated in Winchester Cathedral’s close, which provides a spectacular backdrop to the yummy food and drink, and the market is noted for its high-quality produce. Exeter’s Christmas markets (16th November – 19th December) represent the very best of the south-west, with over 50 traders and a great mix of food. While Bath’s Christmas market (28th November – 15th December) never fails to impress. Situated between the historic Abbey and the Roman Baths, cute little chalets offer everything from handmade decorations to homemade cakes and festive drinks (ever tried white glühwein?)
If the markets whet your wintery whistle, pack up with pooch for a mini break. We recommend heading straight to the ever lovely Cotswolds. Start with a tipple of mulled wine and a light bite in front of the roaring fireplace at wonderful, Michelin starred Cotswolds pub, The Wild Rabbit in picturesque Kingham. There’s a handful of stylish and sumptuous dog-friendly rooms available here if you fancy staying the night, just make sure to book in advance. Pretty Daylesford is just a 35-minute walk away, which is postcard perfect at Christmas time, with twinkling Christmas lights lining the cute laneways, great for a lovely post lunch stroll. Note that pups can’t go in all the shopping areas, but there’s doggy parking as well as a lovely central outside area with tables. The Daylesford Christmas Fair (11th – 13th November, tickets in advance from £9), is also worth strolling into with pup in tow, where there’s an abundance of local produce and you can stock up on cute gift ideas for all the family as well as festive essentials like unique wrapping paper and fun table decorations.
Also in the Cotswolds is beautiful Broadway, a village full of cosy inns like the 16th Century Lygon Arms Hotel. There’s 17 exquisite dog-friendly rooms available here and the hotel is pawfectly located, just a stone’s throw from the Broadway shops that are great fun to explore with pooch. Also great for sleeping are the lovely countryside hotels, Foxhill Manor and The Fish, both located on the Farncombe Estate. It’s worth timing your visit with the Broadway Christmas Shopping evenings (29th November & 6th December, 5.30pm – 8.30pm) that perfectly capture the timeless image of a classic Dickensian Christmas! Mince pie? Don’t mind if we do.
After all that walking and mince pie-ing you’ll deserve a drink and perhaps a little more to eat – it is Christmas after all. Head to Broadway’s Jockey Bar, a charming pooch-loving spot that lets dogs dine with you by the warm fireplace. It’s completely OK at this point to have another mince pie with your mulled wine.
Time is precious at Christmas. A festive brunch or tea with pup is a good option when you’re looking to celebrate the season while taking a brief respite from shopping. Take your pup to afternoon tea at London’s Egerton House which now serves Doggy Afternoon Tea. Remember to tuck in fido’s bib before they get stuck into ‘bowl licking chicken and beer meatloaf’, ‘homemade doggy biscuit’ and ‘doggilicious ice cream’. For you, there’s battenberg, cherry bakewell, trifles, freshly cut sarnies, Devonshire scones and all manner of drinks!
While you’re out and about this Christmas remember those who have paws less fortunate. There are several dog-friendly dog charity events, including the All Dogs Matter Santa Paws Christmas Fair (8th December) at the Garden Gate pub in Hampstead, moments from the heath which provides a lovely afternoon walkies location afterwards, with spectacular lakes and woodland where you can watch the sun go down on the big city. You may also want to donate to a charity like the Dogs Trust, who work tirelessly throughout the year up and down the country finding forever homes for their deserving rescue dogs. They are also hosting a dog-friendly Christmas Carol Concert in Chelsea Old Church (Thursday 5th December) to raise money for veterinary care for dogs belonging to people who are homeless – book your and fido’s pew here. We love their work and fully appreciate everything they do for our furry friends, including training and exercise programmes. Hear, hear!
For more ways to help less fortunate pups, check out our article on how to help paws in need this Christmas.
Whatever you decide to do this upcoming festive season, wrap up warmly and get adventurous with your pup. It’s only Christmas once a year, after all, so have a very yappy holiday!