22 December, 2022 News stories, SDA

Colleagues and collaborators from across the globe will celebrate the festive season together at British Antarctic Survey’s five research stations in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic, along with festivities onboard the polar ship for Great Britain, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Our teams in Antarctica follow many Christmas traditions, including carols and a roast dinner, but in their own unique way.  With some experiencing 24 hours of daylight, the holiday season can be quite different in the frozen continent, but enjoying each other’s company and arguments over board games remain the same!

Bird Island Research Station

For a lot of the holiday season it’s been business as usual on Bird Island, as the fieldwork never stops, including the long-term monitoring studies of the fur seals, albatross, penguins and petrels. However, they do try and make the season special, wearing Christmas hats and playing festive music while decorating the station, including the albatross angel on the Christmas Tree! They have made lots of cakes including cinnamon buns, grittibanz (Santa shaped bread) and mince pies.

Photo of Santa shaped bread
Grittibanz (Santa shaped bread) made at Bird Island

On Christmas Day the team plan to have a big Christmas dinner and get out the board games for the evening. It’s always great to have a Christmas with seals and penguins just out the window!

A christmas tree sitting next to a book shelf
The Christmas Tree at Bird Island Research Station

Falklands Islands

At our Stanley Office the team will be taking a well-earned rest with their families, after a busy couple of weeks including the first call of the season for the RRS Sir David Attenborough. They hope to do a spot of dolphin watching over the Christmas weekend and back the winning horses at the Stanley Boxing Day Races.

Photo of dolphins in the Falkland Islands
Dolphins in the Falkland Islands

Halley VI Research Station

Christmas came early to Halley Research Station this year due to poor weather and operational demands. The team made the most of it by decorating the station and making homemade secret santa gifts for colleagues in their time off, with the chefs preparing a special festive meal.

Christmas Dinner at Halley VI 2022
The team at Halley VI celebrating Christmas

King Edward Point Research Station

The build up to Christmas at King Edward Point has been a festive masterclass. Staff from the Research Station, South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) and Government officials all came together to decorate the church at Grytviken. They indulged in homemade mince pies and goodies, topped off with mulled drinks. This was followed by a delightful dinner hosted at Grytviken by SGHT with a spot of homemade air hockey on the side.

As Christmas approaches, they are hand-painting baubles and Christmas Eve brings together a full island meal with all organisations. This will be followed by the traditional meal on Christmas day.

Vital operations and science continue around the festivities, with ships coming and going including HMS Protector, who will join the station during the week for a much anticipated football match.

Rothera Research Station

This year at Rothera they turned the loft of Fuchs House (one of the oldest buildings on station) into a cosy cinema with fairy lights for watching Christmas movies – quite a change from storing field kit!

Fuchs House at Rothera transformed into a cinema for watching Christmas movies

A special advent calendar was made by Poppy, Station Support Assistant, for the person who assists in the kitchen that day.

Advent calendar at Rothera
Advent calendar at Rothera

RRS Sir David Attenborough

On the RRS Sir David Attenborough, there will be a full Christmas meal, with carols on the helideck and mulled drinks to celebrate the special day. With some staff having the day off work, the team on the polar ship are looking forward to spending the day together.

The ship's Bridge with Christmas decorations
The ship’s Bridge with Christmas decorations
A Christmas Tree on the RRS Sir David Attenborough
A Christmas Tree on the RRS Sir David Attenborough. It has to be anchored to the wall for stormy seas!
Santa decorations on the RRS Sir David Attenborough
Santa decorations on the RRS Sir David Attenborough