21 December, 2023 ,

Colleagues at British Antarctic Survey’s five research stations and on board the RRS Sir David Attenborough are currently preparing for a unique festive season in Antarctica, with nearly 24 hours of sunlight, and snow almost guaranteed on the frozen continent.

Some staff will be spending the festive period travelling across the Southern Ocean, others deep in the field, while most will be sharing the holiday season with colleagues on station.

Aurelia Reichardt, Rothera Research Station Leader said:

“Christmas is an important tradition for most people on station. It’s the time when families and friends come together to celebrate community and caring.

Working in Antarctica can often be isolating, away from life at home and the goings on in the world, so having a Christmas atmosphere on station helps people feel connected. It also helps us build a stronger community by sharing and exchanging traditions. Celebrations and switching off from the everyday of work life here on station does wonders for mental wellbeing.”

Celebrations at Rothera Research Station

It is currently the busiest time of year at the UK’s largest Antarctic research station, Rothera Research Station, on Adelaide Island. Staff will be celebrating on station, along with colleagues carrying out vital research and operations in the deep field.

A group of people posing for a picture in the snow

It’s been a hive of festive activity, with Christmas movies, mince pie making and gingerbread decorating.

The team at Rothera have decorated the station and are also running the annual Rothera Christmas Door Competition (organised by K Shaw, Lead Station Support Assistant) with wreaths made out of recycled rubbish, origami stars and penguins fashioned from old scrubout lists.

Most people will have the day off on Christmas Day with different eating events, including a traditional Christmas lunch and a cold buffet. Some colleagues will also join in sporting activities, such as football matches and rounders.

A number of staff will be spending the holiday season deployed in the Antarctic wilderness, including colleagues at our field stations Sky-Blu and Fossil Bluff, providing essential air operations and refuelling while the runway is resurfaced at Rothera.

Celebrations at Halley VI Research Station

The team at the modular station on the Brunt Ice Shelf are looking forward to spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day together and having a rest before a busy period of operations on station from the 28 December.

Colleagues have been busy making gifts for each other in their spare time for Secret Santa. The station now has festive decorations and there’s been evening mince pie making sessions.

On the menu for Christmas Day is a starter of chestnut cheese croquettes, a main of Roast Beef with cranberry gravy and chestnut-bacon sprouts. For dessert, there will be yule logs, Christmas cake and pudding, along with Flodeboller (chocolate- covered marshmallow), as a nod to the chef’s Danish grandmother.

On Boxing Day, the Station Managers will give the catering team a well-deserved break as they prepare brunch and dinner.

Celebrations on board the RRS Sir David Attenborough

Our polar ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, will be travelling through the notorious Drake Passage on Christmas Day, so they are hoping for calm seas, otherwise it might be a bit challenging eating Christmas Dinner!

The crew have been in the festive spirit since early December, with decorations up and having a special Christmas film evening at least once a week. Many of the crew are currently putting together last-minute adjustments to homemade gifts for this year’s Secret Santa.

Christmas decorations on the RRS Sir David Attenborough
Christmas decorations on the RRS Sir David Attenborough

They are also planning a carol service at Grytviken in South Georgia with colleagues from King Edward Point Research Station in the run-up to Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day the chefs will be working hard to produce a special brunch, followed by a full Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings, and a cold buffet in the evening.

Seasons greetings from Bird Island and Signy Research Stations

A group of people on a boat in the water

A group of people on a boat in the water


Season's Greetings 2023
British Antarctic Survey Season’s Greetings image