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Festive fun is officially back – we’re spruced up and ready to be merry with Wyldes Trees, festive bakes and a fresh batch of panto dames

Christmas tree shopping

This November hasn’t been one to ‘remember, remember’ but after weeks of gloom, finally some festive cheer – Wyldes Farm in Liss is opening – which means Christmas can begin!

Wyldes Farm Christmas Trees Liss

‘New rules for New Yules’ mean the usual full bells and whistles are on ice but there’s no need to pine – from 2 December you can head into the plantation (above) to pick out a pukka spruce (pre-cut available now). Plus the gorgeous-things shop is stocked up and there’s drinks in the sparkly apres-ski style chalets. And with jolly Santa visits off the agenda, picture-perfect red mailboxes make the ideal place to capture an Insta-worthy woodland snap as kids post their wish-list letters to the North Pole.

East Hants too far? There’s plenty more places to find the perfect tree – check out New Park in Brockenhurst with children’s activity trail, hot drinks and doughnuts, Burcot Farm near Winchester with kitschy baubles and wonderful wreaths and spruces from Shide Trees at Thompson’s Garden Centre on the Island, which also has a shop-load of sparkly baubles to bling it up with.

New openings

Hoxton Bakehouse Petersfield

Speaking of Christmas, as of this week, Bishop’s Waltham and Petersfield have been blessed with their own brand spanking new Hoxton Bakehouses. Just in time too as the new festive menu also launches this week – well hellooo mince pie cruffin Danish with brandy cream, turkey melt on sourdough and Christmas morning buns! (NB: you can also find them in Lymington, Winchester and at Hoxton’s Southampton bakery).

Hoxton Bakehouse aside, openings have been far and few between recently but looking ahead to the New Year, there’s whispers of a brand-spanking-new fine dining restaurant at The Old Dairy in Petersfield, giving future star chefs from Hampshire catering colleges their chance to shine in the style of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. Is it too early to buy launch day shoes?

Pantos to book now

Four Dames Panto Winchester

Finally, after a year of pantomime-style living (go out? Oh no you can’t, oh yes you can, oh no you can’t again…) we’re beyond ready for the real thing. The good news is the socially-distanced show will go on in Pompey (Dick Whittington at The Kings Theatre); Winchester (Four Dames in Search of a Panto at the Theatre Royal Winchester, above) and Southampton (Sleeping Beauty at the Mayflower Theatre, funded by the National Lottery). We’ve even scored some free tickets to Sleeping Beauty with a fabulous Reader Treats competition – go on, enter now, the winner could be youuuu!

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