Record numbers of Brits plan trip in UK during festive season, bringing £2.9 billion boost to economy

19 December 2019

VisitEngland’s Christmas Trip Tracker survey released today shows that 14.5 million Brits are definitely planning an overnight trip in the UK during Christmas and New Year, bringing an estimated £2.9 billion boost to the economy.

The figures are the highest since this survey began in its current form in 2012.

The survey shows an increase on last year’s results when 13.4 million Brits planned to take an overnight trip in the UK during the festive season. In 2017 the figure was 11.1 million and in 2016 it was 11.7 million.

Tourism Minister Helen Whately said:

"It is great that so many people are planning a UK trip this Christmas. It's good news for jobs and businesses within the tourism sector and a boost to the economy." 

VisitEngland Director Patricia Yates said:

Tourism businesses across the length and breadth of the UK will be looking forward to a good Christmas season delivering economic growth as we start the new decade.  It is no wonder Brits are being tempted to explore their own backyard with the ease and convenience and the quality on offer.

Right across the country visitors will find festive activities to enjoy no matter what the weather. From seasonal experiences visiting Christmas markets to wintry beach walks with four legged friends and family or cultural attractions in our vibrant cities, holidaying at home continues to be a great choice.”

Popular seasonal activities Brits plan to do include going out for a meal (45%), shopping at post-Christmas sales (38%) and visiting a Christmas market (34%). Almost one in four people (24%) will participate in outdoor activities such as walking or cycling.

Of those surveyed, younger people are more likely to spend money at seasonal shopping events, with 45% of 25-to-34 year olds planning to shop at post-Christmas sales and 52% planning to visit a Christmas market.

Among those definitely planning an overnight trip in England, 43% are planning on taking two or more trips during the festive period. The survey also shows that 12% of Brits have yet to decide if they will take an overnight trip in the England during the holidays.

Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and region.

Notes to editors:

For VisitBritain's inbound tourism forecast for 2020 please see:

About VisitEngland’s Christmas and New Year Trip Tracker Survey:

  • For the full report, visit:  
  • VisitEngland commissions online omnibus surveys periodically in order to collect data on the number of GB consumers who plan to take an overnight trip at key times throughout the year. 
  • In this December edition, the survey was carried out on an online omnibus by TNS, with a representative sample of 1224 adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain. 
  • The fieldwork for the survey took place between the 12th and 16th December.
  • Trip volumes are based on an adult (16+) population of 50.9m in GB (Office for National Statistics). 
  • A focus for VisitEngland in 2020 is to get more young Brits to take short-breaks at home with a campaign promoting ‘microgapping’ experiences and activities typically taken during a gap-year that can be condensed into a short domestic break of one-to-three nights. You can read more about the campaign here:

What’s on in England during Christmas and the New Year:

Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread House making Workshop, London

Until 5 January

The Museum of Architecture brings its popular Gingerbread City exhibition to Somerset House, which challenges leading architects, engineers and designers to create a futuristic city made entirely of gingerbread. The workshop has been designed around the exhibition theme of transport. From: £35 (Max 2 Adults)

La Clique, London

Until 4 January

The multi-award winning La Clique returns to the West End, a decade on from winning the Best Entertainment Olivier Award for its season at the Leicester Square Hippodrome. Born at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004, this original and trailblazing Spiegeltent cabaret show has gone on to tour the globe to international acclaim and now returns to the beautiful Leicester Square Spiegeltent with a magnificent collection of extraordinary new artists and unmissable favourites. From £29 pp.

Christmas markets:

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market

Until 23 December

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. A huge draw is its bandstand location in Victoria Square featuring live music and carol singers.

London South Bank Winter Festival

Until 26 January

The popular Winter Market is back at London’s Southbank Centre, alongside family shows and festive fun.


Until 5 January

The 20th instalment of the Manchester Christmas Markets including more than 300 stalls and chalets across the city, with the heart of the markets found in Albert Square.

NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival and New Year’s Eve Carnival

31 December

The 2020 New Year’s Eve celebrations will include fireworks displays with Quayside entertainment.

Where to skate this festive period:

The Tower of London, in the moat

Until 5 January

Visitors can enjoy ice skating at one of Britain’s most famous landmarks, the Tower of London, and glide along the ice beneath the ramparts, towers and battlements of this spectacular Norman fortress. From £15 pp

Somerset House, London 

Until 13 January

Join the celebrations at Somerset House ice rink, which turns 20 this year! Run in collaboration with Fortnum & Mason for the past six years, the neoclassical arts venue is one of the most beautiful ice-skating backdrops in Britain. From £11 pp

The Natural History Museum, London

Until 12 January

From autumn to early January, the courtyard of the Natural History Museum transforms into a glistening ice rink straight from a fairy tale. From £12.65 pp

The Eden Project, Cornwall

Until 23 February

Housed in one of the Eden Project’s biomes, the ice-rink is part of the wider Winter Festival happening at the Eden Project.  From £7 pp

Hampton Court Palace

The Hampton Court Palace ice rink gives visitors to Britain the chance to skate beneath the stars outside Henry VIII’s favourite royal palace, situated by the River Thames on the outskirts of London. From £15 pp. 

Liverpool’s Ice Festival

Until 5 January

Located on Liverpool’s Waterfront, the Ice Festival lets visitors experience one of the city’s most historic areas, with views over Pier Head. As well as a fantastic ice rink, Liverpool’s Waterfront has transformed into a bustling festive hub. From £12 pp.

Royal Pavilion - Brighton

Until 19 Jan

Winter is when the famous Brighton Pavilion comes to life. Dripping with fairy lights and with a rink-side bar and kitchen for seasonal foodie treats, this magical backdrop makes for an extra-special festive day out in the south coast of England.

Alice in the Palace, Blenheim Palace

22 November 2019 – 5 January 2020

Enter the magical world of Alice in Wonderland – part of a new daytime experience at Blenheim Palace this Christmas.

Ice Village Manchester

8 November – 5 January 2019

Britain’s first dedicated ice attraction has transformed Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens into Ice Village Manchester, a frozen world complete with an ice bar, ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, Woodland Market – and some clever salutes to Manchester’s heritage. The centrepiece is the Ice Cavern, filled with more than 100 ice sculptures hand-carved by the world’s best ice artists. See website for pricing details.

For more ideas and inspiration on how to get the best out of a holiday or day trip in England, whatever the weather,