Christmas carriage

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Oh, what fun! A horse-drawn Christmas
Something about Christmas calls to mind a Victorian horse drawn carriage or sleigh. Perhaps it's the legacy of Charles Dickens and the wagon-filled streets featured in his holiday classic, "A Christmas of Carol",

With this in mind, numerous companies across the U.K. offer special drives for Christmas. Mince pie and tinsel is the order of the day for one Derbyshire-based company, which offers Christmas carriage drives for up to four people, starting at 400 pound.

If you associate Christmas with the scent of evergreens, you might wish to take a ride through Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire courtesy of a local carriage hire company.

During the first three weekends of December, ponies Holley and Maisey are outfitted with antlers and jingling bells for their special festive drive. Guests enjoy a half-hour drive through North York Moors National Park, during which time they may engage in a quiz, carol or simply take in the pine- and spruce-filled vista. Two- or four-seater wagonettes are available for hire.

Passengers may combine this scenic ride with the purchase of Christmas trees, which are available in the Dalby Forest Visitor Centre shop. Father Christmas makes regular weekend visits to Dalby Forest as well!

Holiday extravaganzas, complete with carriage
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew provide a rich holiday experience every year. Christmas at Kew includes a Snow Dome featuring an igloo, a Northern lights display and a constant flurry of snow. Other holiday attractions include a Christmas Carousel, outdoor skating rink, holiday wine tasting and a visit with Father Christmas. Horse drawn carriage rides are also available, the perfect addition to a charming outing.

Holiday spirit may also be found in full measure at Edinburgh, Scotland's Princes Street Gardens. There in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, the historic public park is the site of an annual Winter Wonderland, open to the public beginning November 25. During this time, couples may take a horse drawn carriage ride through the lanes of the 8.5-acre Gardens, then warm themselves at stands selling Christmas fare such as mince pies, crepes and hot drinks.

The Winter Wonderland is a feast of lights, sights and sounds, including an outdoor skating ring and fairground rides, including the tallest Ferris wheel in the U.K. Topping it off, the Scottish Market offers plenty of holiday shopping.

Sleigh bells ring
If you're dreaming of riding in a one-horse open sleigh, you may be interested in the holiday services of one Bracknell-based company. Whether it's for a family gathering or a corporate event, you can make your Christmas party unforgettable. You can hire a horse-drawn Victorian sleigh, pulled by a magnificent white horse and, if you wish, arrange for a visit from Santa and the elves. Don't forget to visit Mr. Frosty, a tame reindeer who likes it when kids feed him lichen.

For those seeking total immersion in the days of Christmas past, a stay at a historic bed and breakfast such as in Ford Abbey in Pudleston might be just the ticket. Holiday guests will find that the 800-year-old farmhouse plays host to a Christmas Eve dinner, complete with mulled wine and mince pies. On Boxing Day, guests may enjoy a leisurely sleigh ride through the 220-acre estate. The cost for a three-night stay in these updated medieval quarters (Dec. 24 o Dec. 27) starts at £605 per person.

These are just a few options for those looking to giddy-up Christmas-style. Contact the horse drawn carriage company near you to find out if they offer holiday carriage or sleigh rides. It truly is fun to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!