Anyone heading to London for some Christmas shopping can relieve the stress of the Oxford Street hunt with an Alpine winter wonderland just 10 minutes' walk away at Bloomsbury's The Montague on the Gardens hotel (020-7637 1001, montaguehotel.com/location), where a new pop-up ski-lodge-style bar has just opened.At the vodka bar, mixologists blend drinks with 12 vodkas of Christmas – in festive flavours such as spiced apple or candy cane – while guests snuggle into woolly rugs beside rows of skis, a snowman and pine trees, perhaps ordering some bratwurst, mini turkey burgers and roasted chestnuts from the barbecue, or a food tasting platter with three vodkas for £20pp. Also in London, Somerset House ice rink (uk) is hosting club nights right through December and January, with Tayo's Tracksuit Party on 3 December, Lovebox on ice on 8, 9, 10 December, and winter-sports/music festival Snowbombing hosting Disco Bloodbath DJs, Dub Pistols and more on 15, 16, 17 December (£17pp). Tempting though it is to go into hibernation at this time of year, the best antidote to Christmas cabin fever is to get into the great outdoors.The Wallace Collection in central London has an exhibition of French 18th-century painting, furniture, porcelain and armoury in a historic townhouse; you can make your own Christmas crackers while belting out carols (20 December, free, 020-7563 9500, wallacecollection.org).We can't guarantee a white Christmas but there's plenty we can do to ensure the festive season is as green as possible.The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh will be running drop-in Christmas "Crafternoons" on Sundays throughout December for all ages, with ideas for bringing a personal touch to your gift-wrapping and decorations (free, 0300-123 6789, uk).While at Sheffield's Millennium Gallery families can learn how to make traditional decorations such as pomanders, wreaths and salt-dough angels (10 and 17 December, £3 per child, 0114-278 2600, uk).Sizergh Castle in Cumbria has transformed itself into a one-stop winter wonderland where you can visit Santa in his grotto, see a pantomime of Sleeping Beauty and take a spin on the outdoor ice rink (Santa at Sizergh, 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18 December, normal admission plus £5 per child, booking essential.
At Upton Country Park in Poole, for example, you can join a wildlife walk in search of robins and reindeer (4 December, £1, 07703 607630, uk), while on a bracing guided coastal walk at South Stack Cliffs in Anglesey you can spot puffin and other seabirds (20 December, adults £4.50, children £2.50, booking essential, 01407 762100, uk/southstack).Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria will be celebrating International Mountain Day on 11 December with a programme of activities ranging from lantern-making to guided wildlife walks with Forestry Commission rangers.Children can join in a lantern-lit story walk at dusk or follow a trail through the forest to search for Santa's reindeer.When he's not using his sleigh to get around, Santa can often be spotted using more conventional transport.Meet him on a festive cruise with Ullswater Steamers in Cumbria (18 December, £16pp, 017684 82229, uk) or on a steam train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (3, 4, 10, 17, 19, 20 December, £13.50pp, booking essential. The Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Snowdonia may not be an obvious place to stumble upon Santa but organisers promise that the short train journey into the underground grotto deep in the Welsh mountains will be magical (3, 4, 10, 11, 17-24 December, adults £4.75, children £8.50, 01766 830306, uk).