Sophie Gackowski writes for HomeAway UK
For most tourists, the United Kingdom's best visited in spring, summer or autumn—after all, who wants to risk its tempestuous winter weather? But the truth is, things can only look up after the winter solstice in December: days are longer, the sunshine makes an overdue appearance, and light frosts make forests sparkle in white. Come winter, there's much more to our fair isle than pretty scenery, though it certainly takes pride of place: festivals, winter sports, shopping opportunities and celebration days make up the exciting agenda.
Where will you find your winter wonderland?
Pick up skills in Snowdonia, North Wales. Make no mistake: come winter, Snowdonia's an icy mistress, and not one to be underestimated. As challenging as the Welsh National Park can be during winter, however, it's a beautiful place for a holiday—there's plenty to do amidst the blanket of snow. Take your pick of ice-climbing operators in the area, and you could learn to use ice-axes and crampons, finally making your way up its majestic, snow-capped mountains.
Enjoy winter walks and wildlife, Cornwall. It doesn't usually get as cold in Cornwall as the rest of the U.K., and snow isn't nearly as common—for this reason, it's a fantastic spot for those looking to get outdoors and explore. Thousands of wintering birds can be found as the Tamar Estuary, while Bodmin's Cabilla and Redrice Reserve is home to hundreds of roe deer. Walking amidst the patches of newly bloomed snowdrops has to be one of winter's simplest pleasures.
Ski the Nevis Range, Scottish Highlands. When there's a great shower of snow in Scotland, head for the hills. Even seasoned skiers know the Highlands offer some of the world's best winter sports opportunities—when conditions are right. Glenshee, the Cairngorms and Glencoe are all great options, but the Nevis Range is by far the most spectacular. Enjoy coastal vistas from slopes over 3,800 ft, and some incredible off-piste terrain—all just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow.
Hit the High Street, London. Hit up any of the United Kingdom's major cities in winter, and you're sure to find one thing: sales, sales, sales! In London, shopping's taken to a whole new level: everything from High Street brands to luxury designer labels are slashed dramatically in price following Christmas, so if you're brave enough to join the crowds, bag yourself a bargain at one of the capital's most famous stores like Selfridges, Liberty, Harrods or Harvey Nichols.