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At London's Geffrye Museum, an exhibit on Christmas Past — 400 Years of Seasonal Traditions in English Homes, from November 28 to January 7, explains the significance of Christmas traditions and decorations. Visitors learn the meaning of evergreen decorations, why we hang stockings by the chimney and the reason for twinkling lights in Christmas celebrations. The exhibit is open Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is free.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard steps back 150 years in time for a Victorian Festival of Christmas from December 1 to 3 on the South Coast. Visitors meet characters dressed as Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens. They can shop for crafts, food and wine at a European-style Christmas shopping village, accompanied by street entertainers, Christmas carollers and marching bands.

The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, West Midlands, hosts its Traditional Christmas Evenings from December 21 to 23. Bell-ringers, street organs and a brass band provide entertainment in the atmospheric surroundings of the open air museum's candle and gas-lit village.

In South East England, families can go ice skating on the east lawn ice rink at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington, from November 9 to January 21.

Royal Windsor's riverside Alexandra Park in Berkshire, near Windsor Castle, will be transformed into an 800-square-meter skating rink from December 2 to January 7.

Kew Gardens' ice rink, in front of the Temperate House, is part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Christmas celebrations, from November 25 to January 7 in West London. Admission price: adults £10.. On December15 and 16, it is open late so visitors can enjoy mulled wine and carol singing.

The National Trust has a nationwide program of guided walks before and after Christmas for all ages and abilities. Walks cover landscaped gardens, open heathland and beaches. Highlights include a two-hour bird walk along Studland Nature Reserve in Dorset on December 13, for £11, an Enchanted Garden Walk after sunset through the specially lit Sheffield Park Garden in Sussex, from December 27 to 30, for £12, and a New Year's Day countryside hike to Hardcastle Crags in Yorkshire on January 1. Admission is free.