It’s that time of year when we celebrate all things Christmassy. Think mulled wine, cosy jumpers and walks in the snow. But what are universities doing about it? Well, we decided to find out by ranking which universities are the most festive in the UK, and which ones are a little more Scrooge-like.

Universities tend to be more focused on academia, careers, and all that serious stuff. But when December sets in, we’re all about how many carol services are they hosting, whether there are any Christmas trees in the foyer and how quickly can I make it to the nearest Christmas market after class.

most festive universities in the UK

There are lots of things that make Christmas festive. We gathered data together on some of the most important factors to rank which universities have the most Christmas spirit. These include things like how far are they from the nearest ice rink, or how far are they from the North Pole (aka Santa’s crib). And how likely are they to be covered in snow during December, how many pubs are nearby for an epic Christmas Eve, and finally, how long are they giving students off to party, rest, repeat over winter break?

How to use the table

Use the table to find out which university came out on top as the most Christmassy university in the UK (by total score) and which needed a good sprinkling of festive cheer.

Scroll across the table to see all the different factors we ranked each university for,  or use the arrows at the top of each column to find out which university is the best for each variable.

You can use the navigation bar to search for a particular university.

Most Festive Universities in the UK

RankUniversityLongest Christmas break (days) Distance to the North Pole (miles)Snowy days in DecemberNumber of pubs per square mileClosest Ice skating rink in MilesTotal Score
1University of Dundee242,317.53490.37210
2Abertay University162,303.11490.12206
3University of Aberdeen312,268.71331.43198
4Edinburgh Napier University302,352.40751.49197
5Newcastle University242,420.05360.56192
6The University of Edinburgh212,352.40751.43190
7University of Stirling382,340.95311.80189
8University of Sunderland182,424.03240.25187
9Northumbria University, Newcastle182,424.03360.62184
9University of Bradford242,501.78330.19184
10University of Manchester272,524.26570.31183
10Robert Gordon University282,268.57332.42183
11Heriot-Watt University252,355.37752.42180
12University of the West of Scotland242,377.96652.11177
13Manchester Metropolitan University222,523.94570.56176
14University of Lincoln202,540.64370.06173
15University of Sheffield302,434.96021.74172
16University of Leeds312,500.99231.68171
17Queen Margaret University, Edinburg...312,361.37754.60170
18University of Glasgow182,359.16652.61168
18Nottingham Trent University242,559.66290.43168
19University of Salford202,522.76250.81167
19Glasgow Caledonian University212,358.44653.85167
20University of Hull202,434.96171.99166
20Lancaster University282,486.72212.11166
21University of York182,489.74221.49165
22University of Strathclyde182,358.71653.67164
23York St John University222,489.74222.17160
23De Montfort University242,581.99360.43160
24University of Leicester242,582.58360.43159
24University of Nottingham312,559.67291.55159
25Coventry University322,597.52350.43158
26Leeds Beckett University152,500.90231.68157
26Teesside University, Middlesbrough182,434.96362.73157
26Birmingham City University362,592.23240.62157
27University College Birmingham242,592.23240.19156
28Leeds Art University152,500.58231.99154
29Aston University, Birmingham232,591.92240.56150
30Leeds Trinity University242,497.85234.23149
31University of Birmingham252,594.46240.81146
32University of Oxford432,642.53400.25145
33Sheffield Hallam University142,530.15021.49143
34Liverpool Hope University252,528.822115.28142
34Durham University292,434.34318.08142
34University of Warwick302,599.34351.49142
35University of Huddersfield242,512.08936.71141
35University of St Andrews272,325.702115.10141
36University of Central Lancashire242,503.64526.34140
37University of the Arts London312,658.87370.06139
37University of Cambridge462,611.73361.93139
38London School of Economics and Poli...322,659.09370.19137
39University of Bolton172,516.50445.34135
40University of Gloucestershire242,632.49310.56134
41University of Cumbria242,425.5216016.22132
41University of Greenwich312,661.32370.05132
42University of Liverpool182,528.442117.08129
42Oxford Brookes University312,642.52401.24129
43UCL (University College London)242,658.43370.56128
44King's College London, University o...282,660.28370.31127
45SOAS University of London242,658.57370.56126
46Anglia Ruskin University142,611.49361.49125
46Liverpool John Moores University152,528.322117.39125
47University of Chester152,542.67213.98122
47Harper Adams University282,579.49325.65122
47University of East London382,637.06372.73122
48City, University of London212,659.51370.75118
49Newman University, Birmingham212,595.58243.36117
49Imperial College London222,660.10370.75117
50University of Westminster, London222,660.28370.81115
50London Metropolitan University242,656.49371.80115
51Cardiff University202,660.88240.31114
52Edge Hill University152,517.81019.13113
52Queen Mary University of London172,658.46371.18113
52University of Bristol182,662.92290.31113
53University of Northampton312,609.62246.15112
54Glyndwr University, Wrexham182,553.23207.27111
54Goldsmiths, University of London242,661.92370.99111
55Bishop Grosseteste University222,539.583722.12108
56Cardiff Metropolitan University212,660.38241.18105
57Middlesex University232,653.90372.98104
58University of Derby182,560.722710.50103
59University of Worcester112,614284.23101
60Kingston University242,668.26371.4399
61Staffordshire University142,555.344719.6498
62University of Wolverhampton142,592.35378.0298
62Keele University222,555.642219.6498
62University of East Anglia UEA292,589.8331035.6098
63London South Bank University112,662.50371.1897
63Solent University (Southampton)182,700.99180.3197
64Norwich University of the Arts242,581.9231036.7996
65Brunel University London182,657.16374.1692
65St Mary's University, Twickenham192,664.46371.6892
66University of Hertfordshire242,642.82216.5989
67University of West London152,659.61372.7388
67University of Bath182,668.40211.1288
67University of Surrey182,678.36310.9388
68University of Chichester182,705.36210.5087
69Bristol, University of the West of ...182,663.19292.3086
69Bangor University212,562.752032.9386
70Buckinghamshire New University252,651.24217.2785
71University of Roehampton182,663.09372.6783
71University of Buckingham312,625.892115.2983
71University of Reading312,663.18275.2883
72University of Brighton242,703.312112.3082
72Royal Holloway, University of Londo...312,664.82374.6082
73Arts University Bournemouth252,714.22161.5581
73University of Suffolk292,621.922431.6981
74University of Sussex222,703.312112.3679
74Bournemouth University222,712.40161.6279
75University of Essex312,634.262126.7877
76University of Bedfordshire142,625.55239.3276
76Bath Spa University222,668.75212.3676
77University of Wales Trinity Saint D...242,605.201145.6773
78Royal Agricultural University182,645.62209.2670
78University of Portsmouth182,708.461102.4270
79University of South Wales242,660.10148.6469
80Swansea University182,652.531126.7857
81University of Kent312,675.292114.4250
82University of Southampton212,699.18189.0149
83University for the Creative Arts182,679.79217.5846
84University of Winchester182,690.142010.9435
85Canterbury Christ Church University152,675.362114.8533
86University of Exeter242,713.741632.7529
87University of Plymouth202,737.841473.9415
88Plymouth Marjon University152,738.071459.4710
89Falmouth University172,753.4510103.775

Which university is the most festive?

map of the most festive universities in the UK

In first place on our list of the most festive universities in the UK is the University of Dundee. It has a total of 207 points overall, despite not ranking first for any of the variables on their own. It did share third place for the most number of pubs per square mile, ranking fourth place for the closest position to the North Pole, and sixth place for the highest number of snowy days in December.

There’s clearly something in the eggnog in Dundee because Abertay University in Dundee also ranked highly in second place. Similarly, lots of Scottish universities fared well, including the University of Aberdeen, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Stirling and Robert Gordon University all making the top 10.

University of Dundee
University of Dundee Facebook

Other universities in the ten most festive universities in the UK include Newcastle University in fifth place, the University of Sunderland in eighth place, Northumbria University and the University of Bradford in joint ninth place, and the University of Manchester in joint tenth place with Robert Gordon University.

We all know Scotland is all about tradition, culture and whisky, meanwhile, Newcastle really comes alive at this time of year and Manchester has some of the UK’s best Christmas markets. So it’s hardly surprising our most festive universities in the UK mainly come from these cosy, wintery cities.

Which are the least festive universities in the UK?

least festive universities in the UK

Sadly, there are some universities that might need a little more tinsel and fairylights to ignite the festivities. The least festive was Falmouth University in Cornwall. It’s not obvious why, but it may be something to do with the lower number of pubs and ice rinks around, being furthest away from Santa’s home in the North Pole, being one of the places least likely to see snow, and having a comparatively shorter winter break. Overall, Falmouth generally came out last or among the last for all factors.

Second-least was Plymouth Marjon University, followed by the University of Plymouth, University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University. 

Which universities are most likely to see snow this December?

cities most likely to snow in the uk in december

If you’re the type of person who loves the snow, then you’ll no doubt be interested to know which unis are most likely to have a white Christmas. We used Weather25.com to find out how many days each city in the UK was expected to see snow in the Christmas month of December.

Incredibly, Carlisle, home to the University of Cumbria, is expecting 16 snowy days this year! That’s by far the most out of the university cities listed. Following that is the University of Huddersfield, predicted to have 9 snowy days, and then the four Edinburgh universities in our table that may see up to 7 days of snowfall that month.

Meanwhile, three northern universities based in Ormskirk and Sheffield are predicted to be completely snow-free. Edge Hill University, Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield are most likely going to be lacking that winter wonderland postcard-perfect Christmas. Cities like Falmouth, Plymouth, and Exeter are also expected to be mainly snowless, which might explain their overall poor rankings in our table of the most festive universities in the UK.

Which university has the most pubs for a fun Christmas?

universities with most pubs per square mile

Whether you’re heading out for drinks with mates on Christmas Eve, planning on some good roasts, or want to catch the sport on Boxing Day, a pub is an essential Christmas component. They’re usually all cosy and warm, and have more Christmassy and festive environments than bars. We found how many pubs each university city has per square mile according to Liberty Games’ research. Obviously, the higher the number of pubs per square mile = the better!

So which are the most festive universities when it comes to the best selection of pubs? In joint first place were universities all based in Brighton and Liverpool, including University of Sussex, Liverpool John Moores University, University of Brighton, University of Liverpool, and Liverpool Hope University. If you’re a student in Brighton or Liverpool, you’re in a great position for festive fun at your local.

On the other hand, if you’re a student in Oxford, Cumbria, Wrexham or Winchester for example, you might find it slightly harder to get yourself down the pub. These cities are among a few where the number of pubs per square mile was zero! On the bright side, the few pubs scattered around these areas might be full of all fellow students so you’ll be able to celebrate all together.

Which are the most festive universities for ice skaters?

best universities for ice skating

If you love doing something active, or just feel like Christmas isn’t Christmas til you’ve glided along the ice, then these universities are bound to bring you joy. One of the factors we ranked universities for being the most festive was their proximity to an ice-skating rink.

We searched each UK university using Google Maps and then found the nearest listed ice rink. The University of Greenwich came out on top as the best university for ice skating. It’s right by Queen’s House Ice Rink making it easy for students to hop across and unleash their inner Michelle Kwans or Nathan Chens. Or perhaps you’re not even that good but just enjoy getting Christmassy by putting on the blades each year.

most festive universities by proximity to an ice-skating rink

Both the University of the Arts London and University of Lincoln also came in second place, being extremely close to Patinoire, followed by Abertay University and London School of Economics in third and fourth place respectively.

Meanwhile, no ice rinks were found in the vicinity of Falmouth University or Plymouth universities. This possibly also contributes to their total scores.

Which university gives its students the longest Christmas holiday?

universities with the longest Christmas break

By searching on each university’s website to find their dates for winter break, we found which universities were the most festive and generous to students. They were ranked by number of days off, with the highest number of days receiving the highest score and vice versa.

According to the University of Cambridge’s website, students get 46 days off. The autumn term, known as the Michaelmas Term, finishes on Friday 1st December 2023, and the Lent Term resumes studying on the 16th January 2024.

Following Cambridge is rival University of Oxford. Students here are given a break of 43 days. It’s probably due to how hard Oxbridge are, so if you’re attending a prestigious uni like these – you’ll definitely be using some of that winter break to rest your mind.

Also making the top five universities with the longest break are the University of Stirling and University of East London (joint third), Birmingham City University (fourth), and Coventry University and LSE (joint fifth).

Which university is closest to Santa?

most festive universities according to distance from North Pole

Of course, this isn’t something universities have much control over. However, we wanted to measure how close universities were to the North Pole, seeing which unis Santa was likely to visit first. We used a distance calculator to find the distance for all listed universities and the North Pole, ranking them in order of lowest number of miles.

It’s no surprise that Scottish universities came out on top here, with Robert Gordan University taking the top spot overall. Sadly, this meant Falmouth University was the furthest away and therefore at the bottom of the table.

Methodology

We gathered unique research combined with various data sources to find out which is the most festive university in the UK. The sample included 126 universities across the UK, excluding those with incomplete data. An index was created for each variable (number of snowy days, duration of Christmas break, number of pubs per square mile, proximity to an ice rink, and distance to the North Pole) and each university was given a score based on their position in the list per variable. Two variables (proximity to an ice rink, and distance to the North Pole) were reverse-scored, whereby the lower proximity = higher scores.

Finally, we used the summation of these scores to provide an overall rank for universities to see which were the most festive. Data was collected and analysed in November 2023.