Christmas Camping

January 6, 2016

Camping at Christmas

Unfortunately we are not camping this Christmas.

No, Christmas will be at home, with the kids opening lots of presents and a big feast with family visiting.

However, the idea is not unappealing and got us thinking about how we would go about it.


For much of the UK, the chance of a white Christmas is remote. Yes, snow might fall before Christmas, and snow falls after Christmas, but rarely on Christmas Day itself!

That’s not true for the entire country though. Head to northern Scotland, and there’s a much more likely a chance of snow. (See the Met Office infographic)

It would also have to be somewhere with lots of Christmas style pine trees.

That’s a good thing about camping – you can take your home to where you want it.

The Tent

Now this will be winter camping. Our normal tent would not provide the best option, and being Christmas, we’d splash out on a large canvas tent with a wood burning stove.

We wouldn’t buy one just for Christmas, but get one from a glamping hire company.

The extra thickness of the canvas provides a bit more insulation, and the wood burning stove will make it plenty cosy…. With a massive supply of wood of course.

Lots of rugs will be a must, and some decent beds. If you can’t glamp it up at Christmas, when can you?

A bell tent may also lend itself well to putting a Christmas tree up in the tent 😉


Dutch OvenIf you have a big enough wood burning stove, you can heat water, but it’s hardly going to cook Christmas dinner. No, it would have to be my trusty Dutch Oven, where you can even roast food.

You can also stack a number of ovens atop one another, so plenty of hot food all round.


A campfire will be essential (did I mention we’d need a lot of wood already).

Sitting around the campfire at Christmas, especially with a nice hot toddy on the night before Christmas, just feels right.


Fairy lights and lanterns.

We’ve been impressed with our solar powered lights, but as it is winter we might look for some battery powered ones (as where we’d like to camp, they’ll be no electric hook-up).

Candle lanterns are easy and give a real atmosphere. You need a fair few of them to get enough light, but that just increases the atmosphere.


Putting it all together

We’d get set up on Christmas Eve. Get the campfire going and a warm but simple meal in the evening.

The wood burner in the tent would be started whilst we’re still enjoying the campfire. Hot chocolate for the kids; something warm and alcoholic for the adults.

A story around the campfire, hang up stockings, and off to bed with some hot water bottles (into 4 season sleeping bags of course, with blankets below and above).

On Christmas morning I’d get up first and get the wood burner hot again, start getting hot drinks and a cooked breakfast together, and the kids find out what Santa has left them.

I won’t have long though until I need to start warming some coals for dinner. For roasting in the Dutch Oven you need plenty of coals below and on top, and just as with the dinner at home, things can take a long time to prepare and cook!

I wouldn’t use the Dutch Oven over the campfire but instead use charcoal bricks as they give better temperature control.

The fire would be started though. Christmas diner will be sitting by a roaring fire eating a lot of food.

After dinner there’s a bit of cleaning up to do. Don’t leave Dutch ovens for long. Clean them whilst they are warm. If you’ve not burnt anything, this is actually quite quick.

May be then a stroll, but basically taking it easy in the afternoon, and keeping the fire going. Plenty of time to chill now, have a drink, open presents, and play games with the family. Simple supper by the fire.

Boxing Day. Left overs day. Definitely a day for a more adventurous explore. Everything is setup at camp, so no need to rush.

See, Christmas camping is not as daft as it may first sound.

Merry Christmas

A good place to camp?
Photo: Sylvia Duckworth

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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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