Shanklin Old Village ©Visit Isle of Wight
With its outstanding variety of scenery and miles and miles of footpaths, the Isle of Wight is already one of the UK’s top year-round activity holiday destinations. But with Christmas just around the corner and a whole world of magical, twinkly events taking place, we can’t think of a better place to combine a winter coastal walk or wintry village ramble with one of the Island’s fabulous yuletide events – guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs and get you and your family in the festive mood!
1. Victorian Christmas at Osborne House 2-3 December
Experience the spirit of a Victorian Christmas at Queen Victoria’s beloved home, Osborne House. This historic setting will play host to traditional games, carousel rides and a variety of seasonal entertainment. Listen to the Christmas music and take in the aroma of roasting chestnuts in the snowy courtyard. You can also meet Father Christmas and Queen Victoria as you tour some of the festively dressed rooms.
Combine with: A walk round Cowes taking in more royal connections from the original ‘cow castle’ built by Henry VIII and Albert Cottage Hotel, once part of Osborne Estate, to drinking in the coastal views at Egypt Point, one of Queen Victoria's favourite places.
2. Santa Specials on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway Selected dates from 2-24 December
©Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Santa is making the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet Station his home again this year on selected dates throughout the festive season. Watch the presents arrive by special steam train delivery, visit Santa in his sparkly wonderland grotto and enjoy the bustling Christmas Market with children’s entertainment and live music. Then sit back in a cosy carriage and enjoy a 10-mile ride through the wintry Isle of Wight countryside.
Combine with: The 7-mile Nunwell Trail crosses the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (alight at Smallbrook Junction) on its way from Sandown to Ryde taking chalk downland and fabulous views in its stride.
3. 21st Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival 7-10 December 2017
©Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival
Those who have been to the Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival will know what a joyful event it is. This year on its 21st anniversary, the event will see over 200 beautiful themed Christmas trees on display around Brighstone and Mottistone. The festival includes free admission to concerts set against the backdrop of the trees in the church plus a myriad of attractions from carol singing and craft fairs to an open air nativity pageant performed through the village, as well as warming food, mulled wine and a chance to visit Santa in his grotto.
Combine with: A ramble along the Warrior Trail in the hoof-steps of the great warhorse Warrior. 6-mile circular walk from Mottistone Manor.
4. Southern Vectis Christmas Lights Tour 11-23 December 2017
Winter over the Downs to The Needles ©Visit Isle of Wight
Dig out your winter woollies and experience the magic of Christmas aboard an open top bus. The Southern Vectis Christmas Lights Tour offers spectacular views of the Isle of Wight at night and visits some of the Island's best Christmas light displays, with a couple of festive stop offs along the way. With the bus decked out in tinsel, Christmas tunes playing overhead and Santa behind the wheel, it’s the perfect festive night out for families, friends and couples alike - a truly unique way to enjoy the Island at Christmas.
Combine with: Tours begin nightly at 18.30 from either Ryde or Newport so you’ve got all day to enjoy a walk of your choice from the iconic Needles on the Tennyson Trail or a ramble along the Shepherd's Trail from Carisbrooke Castle to a hunt for dinosaur footprints at Hanover Point. Take a look at our walking map for ideas.
5. Enchanted Osborne 15-23 December 2017
Explore the grounds of Osborne House after dark as they transform into a wintry fairytale of light, colour and sound. Strings of enchanted lamplight laced through the trees and fairy lights twinkling behind leaves will lead you along the garden trail. A traditional fairground and entertainment add to the experience complete with mince pies, mulled wine and heritage inspired Christmas gifts. What better excuse to get wrapped up warm, with camera at hand, and make the most of this sparkling event.
Combine with: Just a mile's walk from Osborne House is the pretty St Mildred's Church at Whippingham where Queen Victoria and Price Albert worshipped. From here you can ramble along the riverside footpath to Newport taking in the Marina and a riverside pub. Or head out east along the Coastal Path from Osborne House to Quarr Abbey which includes a visitor centre, farm shop, gardens and gallery.
6. Cowes Christmas Festival 2017 16-17 December 2017
Winter at The Luck, Gurnard ©Simon Haytack
With a great choice of the very best food, drinks and gifts, the Cowes Christmas Festival is just the ticket if you're looking to wrap up your Christmas shopping. This popular free festival in Cowes Yacht Haven, just a 6 minute walk from Red Funnel's Red Jet Terminal, also includes live cookery demonstrations and tastings and over 60 Isle of Wights arts and crafts stalls plus live music, children’s entertainment and Santa’s grotto.
Combine with: One of our favourite winter walks is along the Coastal Path from Cowes to Gurnard, with great views over the yachts in the Solent.
Our large scale Isle of Wight Walker's Map shows all the footpaths around the Island and gives detailed directions for 16 walks as well as information on buses and places to visit, perfect for your winter break. And if you're looking for ferry crossings or somewhere to stay, check out our Isle of Wight resource page. All the accommodation we feature is walker and/or cyclist friendly.