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Beat the January Blues

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For the pessimists of us out there, January can be a pretty miserable month. Tighter than usual waistbands, empty wallets, continuously cold weather, winter sniffles, back-to-work blues; the list goes on.

And if that list isn’t long enough, something even gloomier will be thrust upon us. In 2018, January 21st has been named as the official most depressing day of the year. Yep that’s right - a whole 24 hours dedicated to feeling blue.

But with January comes a new year, a fresh start, a time to embark on new endeavours. So, why not look at your glass as “half-full” and make the most of your January with these uplifting events?

If you’re travelling by train, we’ve included the easiest ways to get to each place from the nearest train station. For great discounts on train tickets, don’t forget to buy an Advance train ticket to your chosen destination via our website or ‘Train Tickets’ app.

Laugh out loud at Bristol’s Slapstick Festival

An event guaranteed to make you crack a smile in the most depressing month of the year is Bristol’s annual Slapstick Festival. Named as Europe’s biggest and best festival of comedy, there’s no way you’ll leave feeling blue.

The festival is a unique celebration of silent slapstick comedy films, live music and guest appearances by legends of British comedy.

In its 15th edition, this year’s festival is divided between a strong archive programme of silent comedy at Watershed (16-20 Jan) and a classic comedy strand at Bristol Old Vic (18-20 Jan), with guest curator Richard Herring programming a number of special events at the latter.

From classic Laurel & Hardy shorts accompanied by a live piano, to behind the scenes chats with Dad’s Army vicar, Frank Williams and the creators of the Inbetweeners, it promises to be eclectic and sublime, with something to appeal to everyone. 

Hosting the event will be stand-up, TV and radio show panellist, writer, satirist and actor Marcus Brigstocke. Its centrepiece will be a complete screening of the Charlie Chaplin masterpiece Modern Times (1936), showing on a super-sized HD screen and accompanied live by the 40-piece Bristol Ensemble playing Chaplin’s own score for the film and conducted by Guenter A Buchwald.  

This funny festival is sure to brighten up your January, so book your CrossCountry train ticket to Bristol now. Whilst you’re there, why not experience what else Bristol has to offer? Check out our Bristol city guide.

Getting there: From Bristol Temple Meads Station, Colston Hall is a pleasant 20-minute walk crossing the River Avon. Alternatively, a bus takes 15 minutes and a taxi will take 10.

Comedian Tim Vine leans against his microphone stand as he takes the stage at Slapstick2017.

Manchester Beer & Cider Festival

With over 750 beers, ciders and perry, ranging from traditional cask bitters to cutting edge craft beers, you’re sure to find a taste you like at this year’s Manchester Beer & Cider Festival.

The north’s biggest beer festival returns to Manchester Central in January 2019 and is set to show just how diverse and complex beer can be. A range of special tasting sessions and talks will be taking place at the festival, so real ale lovers can not only enjoy the taste of their favourite drink but learn what makes it so special.

Three of the country’s leading beer experts will be running tutored tastings, showcasing the breadth of taste and history of real ale in the UK and further afield. Their subjects will range from the story of Belgian beers, the tradition of serving ales from wooden barrels, the mystique of lambic beers from mainland Europe and how beer can best be matched with biscuits.

Getting merry isn’t just for Christmas and a day out at a beer festival is sure to keep you merry. The festival is open from 24 – 26 January 2019.

To discover more things you can do in Manchester, read our city guide.

Getting there: From Manchester Piccadilly Station, you can either walk to Manchester Central in 20 minutes, then catch a connecting train, the Metrolink or take a taxi.

Six men lean against a bar as they learn about the beer they’re drinking in a tasting session at the festival.

Hair of the Dog Jog – Sheffield

Releasing endorphins is one way to make yourself feel great this winter and what better way to do this than at the ‘Hair of the Dog’ jog in Sheffield?

On the 12th of January, why not kick start your New Year running plans and head to the steel city for a crisp 5 or 10k running challenge? Sign up as a pair, a solo or a team. It's a fast, flat and scenic route very close to Meadowhall shopping centre. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are available at the start & finish line. The route is completely family-friendly, pram-friendly and wheelchair-friendly. So, no excuse not to!

Fancy dress is strongly encouraged (there will be prizes for the most outrageous costumes!) and well-behaved dogs are welcome. And the best bit? Once you get to the finish line, you’ll be offered free fizz, beer and cake!

This year’s Face of the Race competition offers a free place at a 2019 RunForIt race of your choice – all you have to do is post a selfie taken during the race to the Hair of the Jog Facebook page.

There’s lots more to explore in Sheffield and you can read our city guide to find out more.

Getting there: The race begins at Meadowhall Shopping Centre. From Sheffield Train Station, you can jump on a bus to Meadowhall in under 20 minutes.

 A large group of runners stand warming up at the start line of the Great Edinburgh Winter Run with their hands in the air

Be a Big Kid

Every once in a while, it’s nice to forget your responsibilities, enjoy some alcohol-free fun and feel like a kid again. We don’t think there’s a better way to do that than bounce, spin and flip your way around a trampoline park.

AirHop in Guildford, Surrey, houses over 50 interconnected trampolines, that go across the floor and up the walls. Whether you can just about manage a seated bounce or you’re doing parkour flips; everyone will enjoy losing their inhibitions at AirHop.

It’s not just great fun but also fantastic exercise, and is hugely beneficial to both your physical and mental wellbeing. Plus, its low impact on the joints, so no excuses! As you bounce around, you can burn up to 1000 calories in one hour, without even realising it.

As well as the 50 interconnected trampolines in the Main Court, AirHop provides a foam pit where visitors can practice their aerial tricks, whilst landing on a soft cushion of foam cubes. There’s even a chance to join in a dodgeball game on a field of trampolines or why not try perfecting your basketball slam dunk with the height and spring that you always dreamed of.

Thrill-seekers should get off the sofa and into the air this January. You’ll literally be bouncing off the walls!

Getting there: Getting from Guildford Train Station to AirHop couldn’t be easier. A 20-minute journey can be done by foot or bus, whilst a taxi will take just 5 minutes. 

AirHop’s Main Court is huge with 50 interconnected trampolines that go across the floor and up the walls, plus a pit of red and blue foam cubes to jump into.


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