Winter and Christmas in the Brecon Beacons holiday cottages

Winter and Christmas in the Brecon Beacons

Julie Smith 04 October 2022

Winter is a magical time to visit the Brecon Beacons with roaring fires in village pubs to keep you cosy and warm after crisp walks through the peaceful countryside. You can take a festive ride on a wonderful steam train, stock up on Christmas presents at a winter market and attend the winter version of the world-famous Hay Festival.  

If you’re planning a getaway to this Welsh National Park in the run up to Christmas, here is our guide to winter in the Brecon Beacons.  

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Things to do in the Brecon Beacons in winter

Brecon Beacons in winter

The Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year with lots of different activities to try during a visit. Here are some of our favourite things to do on a winter getaway to the Brecon Beacons:    

See a Christmas show at Theatr Brycheiniog

Theatr Brycheiniog is located on the edge of the Brecon canal basin, making it one of the UK’s most scenic spots to enjoy some live entertainment. There’s a variety of shows that you can enjoy during the winter months including music performances, festive plays and Christmas classics such as The Nutcracker Ballet.

You can combine a visit to the theatre with a day of Christmas shopping and there are lots of options for refreshments including a cafe/bar at Theatr Brycheiniog and a wide range of cafes and pubs throughout the town of Brecon.

Ride the Santa Special on the Brecon Mountain Railway

Brecon Mountain Railway Santa special

Taking a ride on the Brecon Mountain Railway is a lovely way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Brecon Beacons National Park and the period steam trains are given a special festive makeover for Christmas. 

Santa Specials run during the last week in November and throughout December, where families can travel in period carriages from Pant to Pontsticill Station, and children can meet Santa in his grotto while parents enjoy a warming mulled wine and mince pie.   

Have some fun at Llangorse Multi Activity Centre

The Brecon Beacons is well-known for its range of outdoor activities including climbing and cycling, and if you wrap up warm and wear the correct footwear you can carry on enjoying the great outdoors throughout the winter. However, if you prefer a little warmth during the colder weather, we recommend heading to the Llangorse Multi Activity Centre to try some indoor activities instead.

It’s located just a short walk from popular Llangorse Lake and includes an indoor limestone climbing wall, a 16-metre abseiling tower and a high ropes course. There’s also a natural rock cave to explore during a visit.   

Stargazing in the Brecon Beacons

Winter dark skies in Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons National Park is an internationally recognised dark sky reserve and one of the best places in the UK to go stargazing. Winter is the season when the skies are at their clearest so you can see meteor showers, planets, star constellations and even the Northern Lights if you are very lucky. Places to go stargazing in the Brecon Beacons include:

  • The ruins of Carreg Cennen castle which sits atop a limestone crag with views across the Carmarthenshire countryside and wide open starry skies.
  • Usk Reservoir is protected from light pollution by surrounding forest and there are lots of flat spaces where you can lay down a rug and set up a telescope for an evening under the stars.
  • The National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus is a Dark Sky Discovery Site with fantastic views that comes with overnight parking, on-site facilities and regular stargazing events during the winter months.  

Winter and Christmas events in the Brecon Beacons

Christmas market in Brecon Beacons

There are lots of winter events in the Brecon Beacons to help to get you in the festive spirit. Here are some of our favourite festivals and Christmas markets to visit during November and December:

Hay Festival Winter Weekend

The winter edition of the Hay Festival is taking place in and around the newly renovated Hay Castle which is now a centre for literature and learning in the popular Welsh town of books. The Christmas lights will also be switched on at the start of the Hay Festival Winter Weekend so the historic market town will look lovely and festive for the various workshops, stories and shows that the whole family can enjoy during your Hay-on-Wye getaway.   

Hay-on-Wye Christmas markets

Christmas in the Brecon Beacons

We think Hay-on-Wye has got to be a contender for the most festive town in the Brecon Beacons. Along with wonderful shop decorations and the popular festival, there are festive markets and late-night shopping each Thursday in the run-up to the big day. 

Royal Welsh Winter Fayre

Taking place at the Royal Welsh Showground this two-day winter event on the 27th and 28th November 2023 attracts visitors from far and wide. Royal Welsh Winter Fayre is a smaller version of the main summer show and along with livestock competitions and chef demonstrations, there’s a large food hall where you can stock up on a range of local produce ready for the Christmas festivities. 

There’s also lots of opportunity for Christmas shopping with a whole host of stalls selling a variety of festive fayre.     

Christmas Fayre at Tretower Court

Tretower Court in the Brecon Beacons

Located between Crickhowell and Talybont-on-Usk on the edge of the Black Mountains, Tretower Court comprises an imposing 12th-century stone tower with original medieval barns and Tudor buildings that are surrounded by gorgeous gardens. 

It’s a very grand setting for the Winter Market which takes place at Tretower Court on the 11th and 12th November. The Tudor house will be filled with local artists and designers with crafts stalls where you can buy unique items directly from their makers.  

Crickhowell Christmas Fayre

The Crickhowell Christmas Fayre takes place on the first Thursday in December and marks the start of late-night shopping. Crickhowell is transformed into a winter wonderland with stall holders selling a variety of festive fayre in the town’s historic Clarence Hall while carol singers entertain shoppers on the streets outside. 

There’s also a range of activities including bell ringing at St Edmunds Church and a Santa’s grotto in the market hall. We recommend visiting Nicholls as part of your late-night shopping, this lovely Welsh department store has been part of Crickhowell for almost 100 years. Browse our Crickhowell cottages to plan your Christmas getaway to this popular market town.    

The best Brecon Beacons walks for winter

Brecon Beacons walks for winter

The Brecon Beacons can be at their most still and peaceful as the weather starts to get colder and as long as you wear appropriate footwear, there’s no reason why you can’t get out exploring. 

Here are some of our favourite Brecon Beacons walks for winter: 

Henrhyd Falls

Not only is Henrhyd Falls the highest waterfall in South Wales but there’s a secret cave behind the water that was featured in Batman: The Dark Knight. The Brecon Beacons waterfall is surrounded by a wooded gorge that is beautiful at any time of year and children will love putting on their wellies to crunch through the woodland and splash through the puddles. 

It’s up to you how long or short you want to make the walk as there is a selection of footpaths to follow with a car park that’s just a short stroll from the falls. 

The Begwns

Walk the Begwns in winter

Just to the north of the national park between Hay-on-Wye and Builth Wells lie the Begwns, a peaceful area of upland commons that are managed by The National Trust. There’s not much climbing involved in the walk as the car park is close to the highest point of the Begwns which is known as The Roundabout. 

It’s said you can see the whole of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park from this elevated spot and the circular 2-mile walk around the Begwns is easy enough for even the littlest of legs.  

The Sugar Loaf from Abergavenny

If you fancy blowing away the cobwebs with a bracing walk, then a climb up one of the Brecon Beacons’ marvellous mountains should do the trick. This 7-mile circular walk starts and ends in Abergavenny where there are lots of options for warming refreshments before following a series of peaceful country lanes on your way to The Sugar Loaf. On a clear day, you can see across South Wales to South West England with the panoramic view from the top. 

Talybont-on-Usk Circular

Talybont-on-Usk in winter

This 5-mile walk is centred around one of the prettiest villages in the Brecon Beacons and follows a pathway alongside the serene waters of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal before climbing up through a forested hillside towards Talybont Reservoir. There is gorgeous scenery along the way and views out across the River Usk. There are a trio of good pubs in Talybont-on-Usk where you can enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal after your walk. 

The best Brecon Beacons pubs for winter

Brecon Beacons pubs for winter

Warm yourself from the cold winter weather with a visit to one of these cosy Brecon Beacons pubs that come with characterful original features and roaring log fires.

Red Lion Inn

This traditional 12th-century drover’s inn near Penderyn has everything you could want from a country pub including flagstone floors, cask ales, open fires and a hilltop location with views across the Brecon Beacons. The Red Lion Inn’s menu makes the most of fresh, seasonal produce and they also do a rather good Sunday lunch.     

The Dinas Inn

Open fire at The Dinas Inn

The Dinas Castle Inn (formerly known as The Dragon’s Back) is the highest pub in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It’s an ideal pub to visit during a getaway to the Black Mountains in a pretty valley that’s 1,000 feet above sea level. Guests can play a variety of board games beside the fire in the cosy bar and the pub car park is also a fantastic spot for stargazing. 

The Bear Hotel

This handsome Crickhowell coaching inn dates back around 500 years to when it was one of four stops on the old London to Fishguard route. Today guests at The Bear Hotel can enjoy drinks that include craft beers, fine wines and over 30 varieties of whisky in a characterful bar that comes with open fires and oak beams. It’s the perfect place to shop after a day or evening of Christmas shopping in Crickhowell.

The Felin Fach Griffin

Traditional Brecon Beacons pub

There’s a choice of cosy rooms to choose from at The Felin Fach Griffin including the Library and the Tack Room which are both warmed by log fires. The riverside location between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye is just right for walkers and both muddy boots and dogs are welcomed to the pub. Food on the menu is simple but uses the best local ingredients including Welsh beef and lamb. 

Plan your winter getaway to the Brecon Beacons

Brecon Beacons winter landscape

If you have been inspired to visit the Brecon Beacons during winter, you’ll find lots of cosy places to rest your head including holiday homes with a wood burner and a selection of cottages for Christmas.

Browse our complete collection of Brecon Beacons cottages for winter to find your perfect base for a memorable getaway to this wonderful national park. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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