Festive activities you can get involved in if you’re staying at uni over the Christmas break

17th December 2021
An image of people at a Christmas market

Last year, Christmas restrictions and ‘student travel windows’ prompted many students to stay in their uni digs over the festive break. And, although we’re *fingers crossed* in a much better position this year, there are still plenty who are choosing to stay put – due to placements, the cost of travelling home, and wanting to celebrate with uni housemates.

What’s more, some university terms have been extended to 17th December, so chances are that you’ll spend a lot of the festive period with your flatmates anyway!

Here are some ideas to get festive this December…

Christmas markets and events

Nothing screams ‘It’s Christmasssss!” (Noddy Holder style, of course!), than attending your local Christmas market. After all, what could be more festive than looking for a unique handmade gift with a warm bratwurst in hand, and then indulging in a nice mulled wine with a backdrop of Christmas music?

Here are our top picks in Sanctuary Students areas:


Liverpool’s Christmas market can be found in St Georges Hall until 23rd December, and it boasts a tipi bar, ski bar and new Bavarian bar – ‘tis the season to feel merry, after all! To soak up all that Christmas ‘spirit’, there’s a Yorkshire Pud Wrap stall, traditional swing grill, and many more delicious stalls.


Running until 23rd December, St Enoch Square Christmas Market is a beautiful yuletide village, with 50+ seasonal chalets featuring bratwurst sausages, a hog roast and even a local crispy duck rotisserie – plus some sweet treats.


Piccadilly Gardens will be filled with festive bars offering food, locally brewed ales, crafts and live music/DJs. It’s running until 3rd January 2022, so there are plenty of opportunities to visit before uni starts up again!


If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, fear not – Preston Makers Market launches on 11th December, complete with festive tunes from the Salvation Army. And don’t miss the ‘Bratwurst & Butter Pie’ late-night shopping event later that day!


Falmouth's Festive Weekend runs between 1st and 12th December, with an artificial ice rink, snowy streets, festive stalls and festive choirs. There’s even a snow globe on The Moor installation – perfect for selfies with your flatmates!


Of course, the capital city could have a Christmas activity blog in its own right, but our top 5 picks are:

  • Natural History Museum Ice Rink, until 16th January – It’s your last chance to visit this iconic London ice rink!
  • Hogwarts in the Snow – The wizarding world at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London has had a festive makeover, with glittering Christmas trees in the Great Hall and much more.
  • Borealis at Guildhall Yard, 11th-22nd December – Experience the northern lights down south, with breathtaking visuals by Dan Acher.
  • Leicester Square Christmas market, until 9th January – A traditional market filled with a wonderful array of crafts and food, plus a Belgian spiegeltent, which is full of comedy sets, cabaret and magic shows.
  • Winter Light at the Southbank Centre, until 9th January – Check out these free outdoor art installations and video projections.

Someone ice skating with their headphones in

Getting festive

Of course, if markets aren’t your bag, there are plenty of other ways to get into the Christmas spirit this December. If you’re staying at uni or term is extended through December, try these festive ideas for size:

  • Decorate your room and flat – Getting creative is always fun, plus adding some festive cheer to your student digs will make everything feel nice and cosy. Make sure you pop on some cheesy Christmas tunes as you get decorating.
  • Hold a Christmas dinner with your flatmates – Tackle the eponymous roast dinner (sprouts and all) and then get together for a festive film afterwards.
  • Check out your Student’s Union – Trust us, it won’t be just you who’s staying at uni at Christmas. If no one in your flat is there, it doesn’t mean you can’t connect with fellow students – your uni will likely hold some social events over the period, so keep an eye out.
  • Volunteer – You could also use your free time to make a difference to those who are less fortunate, such as donating to a food bank.
  • Arrange festive catch-ups – We know, we know, we’re over Zoom calls too, but festive catch-ups will bring you closer to your loved ones while you’re away. After all, just because you’re not at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t join in with everyone.
  • Get some rest – Although it’s great to have a break from lectures and deadlines, it’s important to look after your mental health during this period. Use the time over Christmas to recharge your batteries and embrace the downtime – it’ll soon be busy and noisy again!

A picture of a mug and a laptop open on Zoom.

Know where you can get support

If you’re alone in your student accommodation this Christmas, it’s particularly important to care for your mental health and look out for any feelings of loneliness and homesickness.

Hopefully, the above suggestions will help you connect with others and keep busy during this time, but if you’re feeling low, it’s important you don’t suffer in silence. Talk it through with someone – whether it’s a friend, family member, your GP or university tutor, sharing your feelings will help.

There are plenty of avenues of support you can turn to, including our Student Advice Line from our partners at Health Assured. At Sanctuary Students, your health is our priority, and that’s why we offer professional support to help you with any problems you may face from stress and depression to financial issues and coping. The phone line is open day and night, 365 days a year, and everything you discuss is kept confidential – so there’s nothing to worry about. Call the freephone number on 0800 030 5182 – we’re here as often as you need us for as long as you like.