December is dark, chilly, and wet in Wales, but Christmas brings festive sparkle, fairy lights, and markets to towns, cities, villages, and manor houses across the country. Up in the mountains, you might find snow dusting the highest peaks, and if you venture to the coast when the weather cheers up you’ll find it blissfully quiet.

Weather

December is wet, with 22 rainy days on average, so come prepared with warm layers, an umbrella, and, if you're heading somewhere wild, full-on waterproofs and wellies. The rain can quickly turn to sleet and snow in the mountains, while you might see gales, high waves, and dramatic storms on the coast. 

Temperatures bring lows of around 37°F (3°C) and highs of 44°F (7°C), but take these with a pinch of salt: the damp weather can make things feel much colder. Cardiff is a touch warmer, with lows of 41°F (5°C) and highs of 48°F (9°C), while the exposed, blustery bluffs of Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons can feel significantly colder, with temperatures regularly diving below zero and occasional snow. Remote roads can get flooded and single-track mountain passes can become treacherously slippery in the ice or snow. Check conditions before heading out. 

Crowds & Costs

Towns and cities up and down the country are in full festive swing in December, so expect to find the roads (and car parks) busy, especially at weekends, as people head out to do their Christmas shopping. Rural areas and the coast are much quieter. However, if you time it right with the weather, you can expect to have the hills, mountains, and beaches largely to yourself. 

You might get lucky and be able to snag a deal on flights and accommodation early in the month, but rates spike during the school holidays and over Christmas and New Year when everything gets booked up. 

Where to Go

December is a terrific month for exploring Wales' towns and cities, with gallery days, lazy lunches in cafés, and Christmas shopping in city centers (Cardiff's Victorian arcades are particularly lovely) and festive markets.

This is a month for huddling indoors by a Christmas tree and a roaring fire and digging into local food and ales. Head to rural regions like Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, and you can gaze out at the misty mountains while doing just that. The coastlines of Gower, Pembrokeshire, and Anglesey fall silent during the December lull. Not everywhere is open, but you should be able to find a cozy B&B with rooms still available. When the sun breaks through, the beaches are wild and glorious at this time of year.

What to Do 

When the December rains blow in, take cover in one of the country's excellent museums and galleries. Cardiff's National Museum whisks you from fine art to geology and natural history. If you have kids in tow, they'll love the dinosaurs. The National Library in coastal Aberystwyth is more than just a priceless collection of books, presenting a great roster of exhibitions. 

Christmas markets and fairs spring up in some of Wales' prettiest market towns, from Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons to bookshop-crammed Hay-on-Wye. Cardiff is bigger and busier but go now for the buzz of its Christmas market and Winter Wonderland. 

The hills and moors are often boggy now, but with the right gear, you can still head out on bracing walks on good-weather days in regions like Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.

Events in December

Llandudno Santa Dash. Runners dress up as Santa for this festive 3-mile (5-km) dash along the seafront of Llandudno in North Wales on the first Saturday in December.

Cardiff Christmas Market. Browse the stalls for crafts, grab a mulled wine, and admire the lights at Cardiff's Christmas market, which springs up along St John Street, Working Street, Trinity Street, and the Hayes from mid-November to December 23.

Cardiff Winter Wonderland. Held from mid-November to December 24, this winter festival brings ice skating and an ice walk to Cardiff Castle and an ice bar, an Alpine-style village, and a funfair to City Hall.

Christmas in Swansea Bay. Swansea follows suit with its own festive fun, involving parades, a waterfront fairground, ice-skating and Christmas market from mid-November to late December.

Luminate Wales, Margam Country Park and Castle. This festive light trail through the historic gardens sparkles brightly from mid-November to early January.

Tenby Boxing Day Swim. It sounds like madness, but brave the freezing sea on Tenby's North Beach on Boxing Day (December 26), and this festive dip in fancy dress is a blast. Or you can stay warm and dry and watch from the shore.

New Year's Eve, nationwide. Wales flicks into party mode as it sees in the New Year with festivities, fairgrounds, and fireworks all over the country, with top billing going to Cardiff. 

Traveling to Wales in December? Check out this great itinerary

Discover Wales - 7 Days. Experience the rugged coastline, ancient castles, and national parks, like Snowdonia, as well as enjoy regional cuisine on this week-long adventure.

More Helpful Information 

Wales in November
Wales in January
Best Time of Year to Visit Wales
How Many Days to Spend in Wales