It’s cold outside – but don’t let that put you off experiencing some real winter fun!

Winter in the New Forest is a magical time. It’s a season of rustling, frosted leaves; of snow and storms, dark, starry skies and dramatic, flaming sunsets.

It’s also a great time to kick-start a fitness regime or simply get together with your friends, family or other half and into our great outdoors to seek some real winter fun.

The New Forest Paddle Sport Company offers a whole raft of fun things to do on the water this winter! On Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10am - 4pm and on Sundays from 10am - 1pm. They’ll sort taster sessions and lessons on either stand-up paddleboards or kayaks, on our stunning coastline.

Over at New Forest Activities they’ve got a feast of things for you to do on winter weekdays and weekends.

How about a two-hour river tour in Canadian kayaks, with full waterproofs to keep out the wet and cold and free hot drinks to keep you toasty?

Or release your inner Robin Hood at their winter archery sessions or, for something completely different, try Battlefield LIVE. A session includes safe, non-projectile, infra-red gaming guns, a set of camo overalls to protect your clothes and the chance to join forces or go head to head in a selection of gaming scenarios. They also do child-friendly sessions, too.

How about an exciting medieval trio with Insight Activities? Try out Archery, Rifle Crossbows and Axe Throwing all in the same day and see which one you’re best at! Insight Activities can also teach you all the bushcraft skills you need to know to live out in the wild in an exciting session with their experts.

Winter’s a great time to get to grips with trail riding, so why not grab your nearest and dearest or your besties and hire a bunch of bikes from either The Woods Cyclery, Cyclexperience or Forest Leisure Cycling? They can sort you with all the equipment you’ll need, including safety helmets and pre-sorted trails. Combine this with a pub lunch at one of our gorgeous country inns and you’re good for a whole day’s fun.

If you fancy perfecting an old skill – or learning a new one – don’t forget that the New Forest is one of the best places in Britain to take to four legs on horseback. Whether you’re looking to learn the art of horse riding or getting back in the saddle we have riding schools that can help you. Burley Villa School of Riding teaches English and Western riding and offers riding breaks.

Don’t forget, too, to make time to enjoy nature’s beauty at this time of year.

If it’s dark and clear, park up at one of our heathland car-parks one evening. (But don’t forget your torch!) The New Forest has some of the UK’s darkest skies in the relatively light-polluted south-east. In fact, nearly 90 per cent of our skies are in the three darkest categories which make us the perfect place to see the Milky Way, spot Orion and take in the winter meteor showers. If you’re really lucky, you may even hear our owls!

Take your little ones on a walk and try and identify the bare trees from their structure alone. You should be able to identify oaks, ash, beech, hazel and horse chestnut.

Or make a real party of it by buying some sausages (you might still be able to get some Pannage Pork) at one of our delicious butchers, such as Hockey’s Farm, and pop some soup in a flask. Then take your food to one of our fixed barbecue sites, at Lepe Country Park, perhaps, or Anderwood near Lyndhurst, and cook up a winter storm.

And don’t forget to bring some marshmallows to toast, too!

*You’ll find plenty more details of fun winter things for everyone to do here thenewforest.co.uk

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