Caroline Mills

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Christmas holidays in your ’van can be lots of fun – Caroline Mills finds five fab sites offering something extra to tempt you to tour this festive season

Who says you have to stay at home over the festive period and host extended family turning up for Christmas lunch? Or do you need an excuse to turn down the New Year’s cheese and wine invite from the neighbours two doors down?

We have all the excuses you need! Book one of these campsites and you can celebrate Christmas and New Year snuggled up in your ‘van. You don’t even have to cook.

Escape to the island!

If you want to feel that you’ve truly escaped, hop across the Solent and celebrate the festivities on the Isle of Wight. You don’t have to go as far as the Aussies with a barbecue on the beach. But a stroll along the coast after lunch could work up the appetite required for a second piece of Christmas cake.

Waverley Park is open throughout December and offers a spectacular location on the north coast of the island, on the outskirts of Cowes and with sea views from the fully serviced touring pitches. The site even has its own entrance to the seafront for that after-dinner walk.

You’ll have to cook Christmas dinner in the comfort of your own ’van, though, unless you take a 10-minute wander to one of the nearby restaurants in Cowes.

But if you fancy a break in the run up to Christmas, visit Osborne House (also within walking distance of the campsite). Here you can take part in a Festive Guided Tour to see how Queen Victoria loved to spend Christmas. The house is decorated for the occasion until 22 December.

Red Funnel Ferries operates from Southampton to East Cowes, with a two-minute drive to the campsite.

A grown-up child’s Christmas in Wales

For a rural retreat with a difference, how about getting cosy at a small campsite in Snowdonia National Park?

Graig Wen, set in 45 acres of wild woods and meadows, won Best Campsite at the North Wales Tourism Awards earlier this year. There’s stunning scenery right on your doorstep so if you’re tired of endless Christmas specials on screen, the view from your window won’t cease to amaze.

In nearby Dolgellau and Fairbourne there are excellent independent shops with an award-winning butcher, bakery/deli and plenty of supermarkets to stock up on essentials. There are also good local restaurants within a 10- to 15-minute drive, which are open over Christmas and New Year.

Or you could just order one of the Graig Wen breakfast hampers or festive hampers of local produce, stock up and stay warm after a stroll along the beautiful Mawddach Estuary.

On New Year's Eve, Graig Wen traditionally has a bonfire at the campsite to which everyone is welcome for a glass of mulled wine or two – and some of owner Sarah's homemade sloe gin!

Bah, humbug!

Not everyone, of course, can be bothered with all the fuss over festivities and you might prefer simply to get away from all the hype. In which case a stay at Green Hill Farm Caravan and Camping Park at Landford is the site for you.

The site proudly states that, while it’s open all year, it doesn’t do anything extra over Christmas and so offers a complete getaway from unravelling tinsel and tangled fairy lights – unless, of course, you take your own miniature tree to decorate for the ’van.

Set within the New Forest National Park, you’ll find the surrounding woodland and countryside perfect for a walk on Christmas morning.

What Green Hill Farm does offer, however, is a knees-up on New Year’s Eve. Pre-booking for the ‘do’ is essential (there’s a maximum of 40 guests) but you’ll receive a three-course meal and bubbly, plus an evening of music, dancing and games. Tickets cost £45 or £14 for children.

A right royal party!

While the royal family are picking over the remnants of the Christmas bird at Sandringham, you can have a good old stomp around their family estate.

OK, so you’re not going to be pulling crackers with Her Majesty, but you can enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie at The Camping and Caravanning Club’s Sandringham campsite with the wardens, Gerald and Maureen. Held on Christmas Eve from 6 to 9pm, you can also join in with the on-site carol service to get you feeling all Christmassy.

The estate is situated close to the north Norfolk coast. There are more than 500 acres of country park to roam around on Christmas morning. It’s free of charge to enter the park and, if you’re in need of last-minute goodies to fill those stockings, the gift shop and visitor centre are open every day except Christmas Day.

The restaurants within the park are also open in the days leading up to and after Christmas Day, so you don’t have to go cold turkey for Boxing Day.

The Camping and Caravanning Club has 30 sites open over Christmas and New Year, and 29 of them have dedicated festive events. So if Norfolk doesn’t tickle your fancy, somewhere else almost certainly will.

York has it covered

We've got the perfect excuse to dig out your very finest Christmas jumper – and get plenty of wear out of it! There’s loads of festive entertainment going on throughout December at Cawood Park, 11 miles south of York.

First is the site’s Christmas Lights Switch On Weekend on 2 and 3 December with outdoor fun and food, face painting and a festive quiz. You can have ‘Breakfast with Santa’ on the weekends leading up to Christmas and take in some festive entertainment on Saturday nights.

Things really get into full swing, though, on Christmas Eve. The campsite Clubhouse is open from 11.30am, with a visit from someone dressed in red and prizes for the best Christmas jumper.

Christmas lunch and live music are on offer (reservations only) on Christmas Day, while the Clubhouse bar is open all afternoon and evening. It remains open with numerous entertainments on Boxing Day and the days leading up to New Year.

If you’re still on your feet by New Year’s Eve, you can say goodbye to 2016 with a big party night (a pre-booked, ticketed event), featuring live music and a mammoth gala dinner. Paracetamol and black coffee are served in Mrs B’s restaurant on New Year’s Day.

Don’t forget, if the moths have attacked your reindeer-clad jumper and you’re in need of a new one, the beautiful city of York does Christmas very well – for both shopping and a multitude of festivals and festive events.

Whether you're at home or on tour, may you have a fabulous Christmas – and here's to a super 2017!

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