What Makes Your Christmas Magical?

All over the world Christmas celebrations reflect local culture and traditions. The festivities can be very different from country to country, focusing on different aspects of the nativity story. But whether you’re celebrating Sheng Dan Jieh in China or awaiting the arrival of Père Noel in France, you’re sharing in the wonder and magic of the Christmas season.

The National Trust, Northern Ireland’s largest conservation charity, asked their followers on social media what makes their Christmas magical?

[caption id="attachment_53810" align="alignleft" width="500"]'Why can't it be like this all the time?' Castle Ward near Strangford. (Photo by Peter Muhly - 2008) ‘Why can’t it be like this all the time?’ Castle Ward near Strangford. (Photo by Peter Muhly – 2008)[/caption]

The responses were plentiful and unanimous: memories that money can’t buy – enjoying time with family, good walks, crisp air, laughter and sentimental memories, peace and love were all prominent themes.

Looking back to Christmas past, nobody did it better than the Victorians and one place that came alive this year with Christmas traditions and a yuletide glow was The Argory in County Armagh.

Claire Anthony, National Trust Visitor Services Manager said: “Since Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Prince Albert first made the idea of a Christmas tree popular, a passion and enthusiasm for all things festive really took off. From trimming the tree to making and hanging decorations in the home; preparing Christmas dinner to playing parlour games and singing carols, every member of the household would have played their part in making Christmas special.

Claire added: “The same would have been true at The Argory and this year we decorated the house as the MacGeough Bond family would have done in times gone by – transporting visitors back to a bygone era and rekindling family traditions.”

If you missed out on the fun at The Argory there are plenty of other National Trust places open across the festive period. Take a walk in the grounds of Mount Stewart, recently nominated one of the Top Ten Gardens in the world. For the more active consider a hike on the recently opened Divis and the Black MountainTrails with spectacular views over Belfast and further afield. Or why not hire a bike and explore the cycling trails along the shores of Strangford Lough at Castle Ward?

Continue family traditions or start a new one with a visit to National Trust places this Christmas. With winter sunlight dappling through the trees and exquisite panoramic views, they provide the perfect rural escape.

For further information on National Trust places and opening times visit: