A pub in Durham has been named the best establishment to visit if you’re looking for a festive fix this December – and for the most heartwarming reason, too.
Kingslodge Inn bagged the top spot of the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) 12 pubs of Christmas list because it embodies the season of giving, offering free Christmas lunch and entertainment for older people living alone. The pub ran the event on 3 December and a spokesperson said “a fantastic time was had by everyone”.
The 12 pubs, dotted across the UK, have been chosen because each offers something “unique and special” this Christmas. CAMRA also wants to highlight the important role pubs play in local communities, particularly during the winter months. Its chairman Nik Antona said pubs “are one of the last few places where people can come together to socialise outside the home”.
Christmas schemes tackling isolation are clearly needed. A report by Age UK suggested Christmas is the loneliest time of the year for more than 1.5 million older people, with those who have lost a loved one struggling the most.
In second place is the Churchill Arms, in Kensington, London, which is known for its quirky exterior. Dating from 1824, the pub is covered in 93 Christmas trees and more than 21,000 lights.
Errigle Inn, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is in third place as it has “something for everyone” at Christmas – there are lights and decorations; live traditional, folk and rock music events upstairs; a Christmas jumper pub quiz and live football on Boxing Day and New Year.
In fourth place is Cambridge Blue, in Cambridge, which joins forces with the Mill Road Winter Fair to host Father Christmas and his real-life reindeer in the back garden. “In addition, there is a highly-anticipated annual evening of carols and mulled wine with the Cottenham Brass Band,” says CAMRA.
The Cumberland Arms, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, celebrates all things Christmassy with music, shopping, food and hot booze – and comes in fifth place.
Here are the rest of the 12 pubs of Christmas, according to CAMRA:
6. Ship Inn, Ulverston. “The Ship Inn hosts regular events including popular Christmas wreath-making workshops using fresh flowers or rags, which aim to encourage skills to be passed on between local generations, with funds donated to a local charity.”
7. The New Inn, Helston, Cornwall. “This pub hosts a wide range of local events all year round, including a popular carols at Christmas event. This year’s takes place on 21 December with mulled wine and mince pies. A raffle will also be held with proceeds going to Coast Medic with the aim of installing a defibrillator in the village.”
8. Duke of Marlborough, Suffolk. “At Christmas, events include a popular shopping night with mulled cider in November, where locals can buy and sell gifts, art and crafts, decorations, homewares and Christmas cakes. There are also creative workshops such as Lino Cutting Print Day with a local artist to produce a set of unique Christmas cards.”
9. The Bevy, West Sussex. “The Bevy is the first community-owned and run estate pub in the UK. At Christmas there is lots on offer including a Christmas fair (1 December), a free children’s Christmas party with Santa’s Grotto and disco (14 December) and Churches Together Christmas Carols (15 December).”
10. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, Hertfordshire. “A Boxing Day tradition takes place annually where the Mummers perform their unique adaptation of George and the Dragon outside the pub. In addition, this year Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is also staging a Christmas Night Bazaar from 4-22 December in its garden.”
12. The Alexandra, Greater London. “This pub serves up free turkey lunches and drinks on Christmas Day to anyone spending Christmas alone. Now in its fifth year, neighbouring shops and residents donate food and presents to help spread the festive joy. This year, they are expecting more than 100 three-course meals to be served, to those on their own, recently widowed, or those working away from home and family. ”