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December Adventures: Discover winter in Northumberland

  • By Matfen Hall
  • November 24, 2021
  • Northumberland
  • Outdoor Pursuits

As quintessential English counties go, Northumberland embraces an enviable reputation as one of the most remarkable. Its land – home to rolling hillsides, historic monuments, and stretches of the country’s finest coastlines – rarely fails to capture the hearts of those venturing to this quiet corner of England.

At a time where foreign travel remains uncertain, with much of Europe facing the prospect of another Christmas in lockdown, Northumberland, and its vast open spaces, shines as one of England’s hidden jewels, captured in a rustic utopia. Nestled in the heart of this, and within the International Dark Sky Reserve, Matfen Hall boats a welcome paradise to escape the busy city streets and immerse yourself in one of Britain’s best-kept secrets this winter.

For those wishing to discover Northumberland’s often-overlooked landscapes, our latest article serves as inspiration for navigating the very best that this region has to offer, during your stay with us this December.

Christmas in our quaint market towns

Revel in the distinctive charm and unique histories of some of the country’s oldest villages, from our neighbouring town of Corbridge to the beguiling village of Hexham – both of which offer something special in winter.


Seemingly unchanged for hundreds of years, the enchanting village of Corbridge has been known as a shopper’s paradise from as early as 1827. Surrounded by sweeping countryside and beautiful stone cottages, this idyllic market town is home to a unique collection of vintage-inspired bookshops and independent retailers, perfect for a spot of Christmas shopping away from the busier Metro Centre and Newcastle’s Eldon Square. 

With welcoming locals and endless photo opportunities, Corbridge is truly a wonderful place to pass an hour or two, before joining us back at the Emerald Restaurant to settle your appetite with a delicious lunch.

For those visiting Matfen Hall in December, coincide your trip with Corbridge’s Christmas Market and Christmas Tree Festival which runs throughout the first week of December.


Characterised by a beautiful Abby which boasts an impressive backdrop to the charming village that surrounds it, Hexham shines as one of the most picturesque villages in the whole of Northumberland. 

Most of Hexham’s amenities can be found along its idyllic high street – a picturesque run of 12th century stone cottages, housing a selection of gift shops, market stalls and cafes, just a stone’s throw from our magnificent grand estate.

While brimming with a distinctive charm all year round, Hexham exudes something truly magical in winter. With frost tipped trees and the gentle glow of Christmas lights, a visit to Hexham is like stumbling into an enchanting fairy tale.

Castles and coastlines

From Tyne to Tweed, journey along the Northumberland Coast and immerse yourself in an unequalled sense of freedom as miles of desolate, award-winning beaches, towering dunes and rocky headlines await your discovery. 

Whether you’re local to the region or travelling from further afield, Northumberland’s coastline is one not to be overlooked with winter commanding spectacular views of this ever-changing natural landscape.

Bamburgh Beach

A pristine stretch of sandy beach, backed by towering sand dunes and a breathtakingly beautiful castle, dominating the skyline atop a rocky plateau. Once a Norman stronghold, Bamburgh beach boasts the perfect setting to enjoy a gentle stroll to revitalise amongst a spectacular sea view. 

With Bamburgh Castle open all year round, take time to explore its fascinating history and discover the battles, rebellions, and secrets stretching back thousands of years. Plus, with spectacular festive events running until the beginning of January, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Embleton Bay

Justifiably labelled Countryfile’s Beach of the Year in recent years, the golden sands of Embleton Bay are a must for your Northumberland coast and castle itinerary. The shattered ruins of 14th-century Dunstanburgh Castle and the white-washed cottages of the surrounding villages provide a dramatic backdrop to Embleton’s stunning bay. 

Despite its accolades, it remains one of the most scarcely visited beaches on the Northumberland shoreline, allowing you to truly relish in a truly peaceful escape. To complete your afternoon of bliss, nothing feels more relaxing than a dip in our luxurious Spa pool or unwinding in our thermal suites.

Aydon Castle

Located further south and tucked away just five miles from Matfen Hall sits another beautiful castle, eager to be discovered and enjoyed. Holding its own as one of the finest and most unaltered examples of a 13th century English manor house, secluded within a stunningly secluded woodland area.

Journey to the islands

Rising ominously above the cold North Sea well, a collection of 43 islands can be found scattered off Northumberland’s shores which are an absolute must for your Northumberland itinerary. While the North East may be reputable for its slightly harsher weather than its southern counterpart, the moody skies and fresh, crisp air transforms the landscape into something particularly special.

Holy Island

1-mile off the Northumberland coastline, situated mid-way between Newcastle and Edinburgh, you will find the Holy Islands of Lindisfarne. A small tidal island cut off twice daily from the rest of the world by the North Sea’s fast-moving tides. Enjoy the islands encapsulating history, charming cafes, ancient priory, and a castle which teeters on the coastline where Vikings once invaded. 

Plus, with Christmas cards, decorations and produce aplenty, as well as warming log-fires in its local eateries, the Holy Islands boast something truly magical at Christmas that’s treasured by visitors across the globe.

The Farne Islands

The awe-inspiring spectacle of one of the United Kingdom’s most impressive clusters of islands, enriched with wildlife and an impressive accolade from Sir David Attenborough himself, continues to draw attention, and visitors, from all corners of the globe. Depending on the state of the tides, between 15-28 of these desolate isles can be seen off the coast of Northumberland. Whist visitors are unable to land on the islands during the winter period, tourists are still drawn by the spectacular array of wildlife that continues to thrive on this island all year round, in particular, the thousands of fluffy-haired seal pups, gracing the island in winter.

As afternoon arrives, we invite you to sit back and relax with a wonderful selection of sweet and savoury bites as you indulge in a classic, or from the 1st of December, a Festive Afternoon Tea in our stunning surroundings. 

Christmas events at Matfen Hall

With Christmas on the horizon, mark the beginning of the festive season by joining us here at our grand estate for a spirited selection of wonderful experiences, guaranteed to make this Christmas feel that extra bit special.

From an afternoon of festivities with a wreath-making workshop to an evening watching the milky way dance over our beautiful Le Jardin Hollandaise, plus a visit from Father Christmas himself, there’s no better place to embrace the magic of Christmas than at Matfen Hall. Discover our selection of Christmas experiences, click here.

To secure your winter stay, book your Northumberland break at Matfen Hall, today.

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