While the first half of 2021 may have dragged as we were all cooped in our houses during lockdown, the days seem to have flown by following Freedom Day in July.

Families were prevented from spending time together last year, with Boris Johnson ordering another national lockdown just days before Christmas.

With this year’s Christmas less than 100 days away, it’s time to start thinking ahead to how you’re going to tackle the season this year.

If you’re keen to get planning but are worried it may be too early, don’t fret. A woman already has her Christmas lights up, while supermarkets have already started stocking festive treats.

Here’s everything we know so far about Christmas 2021.

Will there be a lockdown during Christmas 2021?

Although coronavirus cases are rising, Boris Johnson feels confident that ‘British people are incomparably better placed to fight the disease’ due to the UK’s vaccine rollout.

Therefore, he plans to continue with his current strategy of more relaxed coronavirus rules and avoid further lockdowns at Christmas or any other time.

Additionally, other politicians have declared that Christmas celebrations are likely to go ahead in 2021, too.

Hospitalisations would need to reach close to 1,500 a day for the NHS to be overwhelmed, so the UK is unlikely to have another lockdown imposed unless hospital admissions begin nearing that figure.

What will Christmas 2021 look like?

With festivals, gigs, and an array of events returning in summer, 2021 should resemble close to what it did before the pandemic began.

Jamie Scahill, Head of Marketing at ticket outlet and event guide Skiddle, told Metro.co.uk that there was no shortage of demand for going out to events.

Scanhill revealed: ‘This year we’ve seen an uplift of 400% in ticket sales, selling an extra 1.4 million this year compared to this time last year. Comparing ticket price values, we’ve seen a 442% increase on 2020.

‘With these figures in mind, we’re expecting Christmas 2021 to be bigger than ever.’

We’ve forecasted what some of the key Christmas activities may look like this year.

Christmas shopping

The crucial thing to remember when you’re doing Christmas shopping in 2021 is that it’ll be vital to be prepared. If 2020 and the last-minute lockdown taught us anything, it’s that our days of emergency shopping on Christmas eve are numbered.

If you’re hoping to do a swoop of the high street in the days prior to Christmas, be prepared as many stores still instill a queueing policy to avoid overcrowding and coronavirus transmission.

With facemasks potentially becoming mandatory again this winter, don’t forget yours when you dash to the shops and try to keep a safe distance from fellow shoppers.

Beat the queues by kicking off your shopping in the next few weeks. However, if you’re looking to stock up on tech gifts and a few bargains, we recommend holding off until Black Friday.

And, when it comes to food shopping, you’re likely to have seen stories surrounding the crisis of empty supermarket shelves and lorry driver shortages.

According to the head of the Food and Drink Federation, Ian Wright, we’re going to be seeing plenty more of this.

Describing how the food industry previously worked, Wright said: ‘The UK shopper and consumer could have previously expected just about any product they want to be on the [supermarket] shelf or in the restaurant all the time.

‘That’s over. And I don’t think it’s coming back.’

Christmas parties and meals

As there are currently no plans for another lockdown in the UK, it is likely that families can still expect to gather together at Christmas.

With employees gradually being lured back to offices with the promise of free breakfasts and meals, as well as some office workers being ordered to adopt a hybrid working method whereby people spend up to 50% of the week in the office and the other days at home.

With that comes the question of Christmas parties and whether they’ll make a raucous return for 2021.

Despite a lift in restrictions, we may still see companies opting for virtual celebrations and parties due to safety precautions or remote workers now living much further from the office.

Gregor Sey, Director of Boozy Events, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Last year we saw all corporate Christmas parties either go virtual or get postponed. This year companies that can manage in-person are certainly trying to do that.’

However, Sey adds: ‘Many larger companies are continuing with a virtual Christmas party this year, citing that it is cheaper and easier to organise.’

Echoing his sentiments is Ian McCulloch, Managing Director of Silent Pool Distillers, who suggests it’s going to be risky for companies to put parties on this year.

McCulloch told Metro.co.uk: ‘There are so many factors to consider and risks to contend with. For example, will you be asking all your employees to get tested before the big Christmas party?

‘The juniors are as much risk in a business as the MD’s, therefore can your business afford to take that risk. If you’re a small business and several members get Covid-19 from the Christmas party it could have serious repercussions, especially with furlough no longer in place.’

If you’re in charge of organising your family or office’s Christmas celebrations, get booking as places are likely to be fully booked soon.

Richard Wynne, Founder of Duchess Of Dalston and the Callooh Callay group told Metro.co.uk: ‘We secured our first booking yesterday, with other enquiries close behind!

‘It seems to be ramping up speed this year already, and we’re preparing for our busiest Christmas season yet across all four sites. We’ve noticed, generally speaking, people are really looking forward to a big, blow out party – and no surprise, after the 18 months everyone just had.’

And, for those looking for something slightly tamer like a Christmas company meal, it looks like larger groups haven’t booked up the best spots in town just yet.

Andrei Lussmann, founder and MD of sustainable restaurant group Lussmanns revealed to Metro.co.uk: ‘A lot of businesses haven’t got their Christmas menus up yet, which is interesting as usually they would have.

‘This is because everyone is still in “waiting” mode – people are not planning ahead like they used to do, they are waiting to see what happens.

‘The big groups are not booking yet and normally they would be. My prediction is that the big groups of 40 people won’t happen this year and it will be smaller group bookings.’

Staff shortages are also affecting the hospitality industry, with Covid-19 positive cases and Brexit implications like visas making life a lot trickier for employers.

Lussman explains: ‘I know of restaurants that have been built and are ready to open but can’t open, because of the huge staff shortage in this industry.

‘The issue is not so much supplies shortages as you can round those, you can constantly adapt menus and suchlike, but if you don’t have the staff you have a huge problem.

‘We need a vocal response from the government about this issue. Most restaurateurs I know are not worried about having a busy Christmas in terms of bookings – they are worried about the staff issue.’

Ian McCulloch also said: ‘There’s the risk of staff in party establishments getting Covid-19 or having to isolate meaning that many venues will be short-staffed.’

Christmas markets

While hospitality businesses look to be open and serving punters throughout the season, Christmas markets are a far larger task to organise.

Leeds City Council has already announced that its Christmas market will not be going ahead, as well as Harrogate Borough Council cancelling their market, too.

As one of London’s most popular Christmas markets, those looking to head to Winter Wonderland will be delighted to hear that it’s back on Friday, November 19, with its boozy tents, rides, and games.

There’s one catch as you’ll need to pre-book the date and entry time, as well as which attractions you’ll be visiting within the venue. Tickets are free during off-peak periods, but you’ll be paying up to £7.50 for busier times.

Another favourite is the Bath Christmas Market, which is back from Thuesday, November 25, in the heart of Bath. It is a ticketless event featuring food, music, a sustainable market, and plenty more.

And, one of the most magical Christmas markets in Britain is Edinburgh’s East Princess Street Gardens Market, which will see festive huts lined up filled with treats, as well as food and drink, plus a Ferris wheel so you can see the sights. Dates for the event have not yet been confirmed.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is also returning on Thursday, November 4, and will run until just before Christmas. It’s located in Victoria Square and New Street.

Christmas pantomimes and entertainment

After over a year of missing out on theatre shows and larger events, people have been enjoying a return to Arts’ venues.

And what better way to get into the Christmas spirit, than by heading to a Christmas show.

A real Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, performed by the English National Ballet, is returning to the stage at the London Coliseum on Thursday, December 16.

You’ll also be delighted to know that another favourite, The Snowman, will also be resuming performances on Saturday, November 20, at Peacock Theatre in London.

Pantomimes are also making a return, with EastEnders star Shane Richie stepping into Dick Whittington’s boots at New Wimbledon Theatre from Saturday, December 4.

For a sprinkle of Disney magic, treat the family to a festive viewing of Frozen the Musical on stage at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

When it comes to concerts, a trusty failsafe is Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall, which has everything from The Nutcracker to Christmas with The Salvation Army and the London Community Gospel Choir at Christmas.

The Muppet Christmas Carol in concert is also touring the UK with shows in cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow.

And, if you’re looking to see a selection of Christmas hits performed by top artists, like Ronan Keating, Rag’n’Bone Man, and Will Young, then grab tickets to see Magic Radio’s Magic of Christmas.

Though, if you want the Christmas concert brought to you, Street Theatre offers an unusual concept. People in London and Manchester can treat friends, family, or colleagues to a short performance of Christmas classics sung by West End actresses who have been in shows like Mamma Mia!, and opera singers from the Royal Opera House.

The performance will cost you £30 and the team will come to a place of your choosing. The company are also doing a musical Christmas advent calendar, for £25 with daily festive musical performances delivered to your inbox each morning in December leading up to Christmas.

The enchanting Christmas at Kew is also back with its twinkling winter light trail that’s guaranteed to get you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. You will need to pre-book tickets and a time slot, too.

Christmas skating

Ice rinks are back for 2021 so it’s time to get your skates on and enjoy one of the most fun – or terrifying – winter experiences.

Manchester’s Winter Funland will feature a huge rink for visitors to enjoy, and there’ll be skate instructors on-hand, as well as little penguin skate aids for little ones. Plus, there’s also funfair rides and circus shows at the venue, which opens from Thursday, December 9.

One of London’s most popular rinks is back, too, with Somerset House’s Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court transforming into a winter wonderland from Wednesday, November 17. Perfect for a fancy festive evening, you’ll be able to sip on champagne after skating in front of a 40-foot Christmas tree.

Brighton’s beautiful Royal Pavillion Ice Rink will be ready to host visitors from as early as Saturday, October 30, and the lights are powered entirely by green energy. Treat yourself to a drink and a bite to eat afterward at the Rinkside Bar & Kitchen.

Windsor On Ice is also back for 2021, and as well as ice skating, Father Christmas will also be visiting on December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, and 24, so bring the kids along for a special treat. This ice rink also has date night events with child-free rink times and disabled skate nights on selected Wednesdays.

Christmas Travel

There are currently no confirmed line or train cancellations over the Christmas period, but look out for updates and changes closer to the time and prior to travel to avoid disappointment.

National Rail has stated: ‘A considerable amount of engineering work will be taking place during the holiday period. Network Rail carry out essential improvement and engineering work across the rail network during this time as fewer people will be travelling.’

Though, if you are planning on jetting off on holiday on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, National Rail has confirmed that the Heathrow Express services will not be running.

For those looking to fly abroad, it’s best to keep an eye on travel announcements from the government as the traffic light system is set to be completely overhauled prior to Christmas.

New Year’s Eve 2021 events

As long as the lift in restrictions remains, New Year’s Eve 2021 is set to be celebrated across the UK.

Last year’s celebrations were a quiet affair due to lockdown, and London was treated to a drone light show and a small fireworks display. In Scotland, Edinburgh’s traditional Hogmanay street party was replaced by videos of a drone display.

While major New Year’s Eve events have not yet been announced, following last year’s sudden lockdown announcement organisers may be remaining cautious and could announce events closer to the time.

However, events are in the pipeline as Jamie from Skiddle says: ‘As it’s a double New Year’s celebration we expect this year to be huge if restrictions remain lifted.

‘We already have promoters talking to us about putting on their events, and they’re working further ahead to make some incredible plans for everyone who is ready to party.

‘Everyone is definitely in full planning mode, ready to celebrate and make up for lost time.’

So, don’t lose hope just yet as you may not be singing Auld Lang Syne in front of your TV this year.

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