30+ wonderful Christmas family days out 2017
One of the best gifts you can give your family at Christmas is your time. So rather than dashing about shopping centres in the run up to 25 December why not take your children out for the day? I’ve been chatting with some of my blogging friends and doing my own research to pick some of the best UK Christmas days out with kids.
Here’s where you’ll find snowy white winter wonderlands, amazing Christmas shows and sparkling Santa’s grottos around the UK in 2017 (sorted alphabetically by area):
Christmas in Berkshire
The UK’s REAL Santa
One of the nation’s most authentic Christmas experiences has to be LaplandUK. Here’s a review by the PODcast family who visited last year.
LaplandUK, Ascot, 18 November to 24 December 2017, www.laplanduk.co.uk.
Christmas in Birmingham
A Christmas symphony
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will be combining two family favourites – Christmas and films – to perform a musical feast. Christmas at the Movies will include tunes from much-loved seasonal films such as timeless classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle On 34th Street and White Christmas to new family favourites like Home Alone, The Polar Express and Elf.
Christmas at the Movies, Symphony Hall, 22 December 2017, www.thsh.co.uk.
A botanical Christmas trail
We love illuminated gardens and the new installations at Birmingham Botanical Gardens sound like they are going to be fabulous. There will be a trail of lights through the Victorian landscape incorporating scenes from The Twelve Days of Christmas, a tunnel of lights and a ‘singing’ tree.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens Christmas, 29 November 2017 to 1 January 2018, www.birminghamchristmasgarden.co.uk.
Christmas in Cardiff
Disney-themed ice skating
Disney fans will love the ‘Let it snow’ themed ice skating sessions at Celtic Manor. Children and adults are invited to dress up as their favourite Frozen or Disney characters and take a spin around the outdoor rink. As well as skating you can indulge in festive food and drink, Christmas afternoon teas and visit Santa in his Christmas Kingdom.
Christmas at Celtic Manor, 24 November 2017 to 1 January 2018, www.celtic-manor.com.
Christmas in Cheshire
Twelve Days of Christmas
Tatton Park mansion will be decked out in style this Christmas with rooms representing the 12 Days of Christmas. Expect hints of turtle doves, gold rings and ladies dancing as you weave through the grand state rooms and servants’ quarters. There will also be a chance to meet Santa and his reindeer and experience carolling in the stable yard.
Christmas at Tatton Park, Knutsford, 21 November to 23 December 2017, www.tattonpark.org.uk.
Lanterns at Chester Zoo and the Magical Sorting Office
The animals at Chester Zoo will be represented in a whole new light during the lantern event this winter. As well as the illuminations and theatrical performances the zoo is hosting a Magical Sorting Office allowing visitors to post their letters to Father Christmas. Why to also make a Christmas wish for the animals? Here’s some ideas for what they might like in an animation voiced by Lauren Laverne.
Lanterns at Chester Zoo, Chester, 24 November to 30 December, www.chesterzoo.org.
Christmas in Cornwall
Rogues in the enchanted woods
Deep in Tehidy Woods North Cliffs near Redruth the Rogue Theatre brings to life fairies and woodland spirits with a winter themed interactive performance. The magical characters guide families to meet Old Man Winter for seasonal stories, hot chocolate, face painting and crafts.
Winter Wood, Redruth, 9 to 30 December 2017, www.roguetheatre.co.uk.
An audio and visual Yuletide
The Eden Project‘s Festival of Light and Sound will give you a completely new perspective on this incredible family attraction in Cornwall. We visited last Christmas and were wowed by the laser light show in the Mediterranean biome accompanied by live music. Also at the Eden Project over the winter is a cover ice rink and a Santa experience.
Festival of Light and Sound at the Eden Project, St Austell, 25 November to 30 December 2017, www.edenproject.com.
Christmas in Devon
Acrobatics, music and light
Two magnificent live shows are taking place at Princesshay in Exeter in the run up to Christmas. Arco, a team of acrobats, will perform from a 12m high inflated arch, while Spark, high impact drummers with kaleidoscopic lighting, will be making magical music on two separate evenings. There will also be a charity-run Christmas Tree Festival on the historic Roman Walk, lights and a Christmas present competition throughout the Christmas shopping season.
Princesshay festive line-up, Princesshay Square, Exeter, Thursday 30 November and Thursday 7 December, www.princesshay.co.uk/christmas.
Enchanted National Trust
Saltram House and gardens near Plymouth will be enchanted for Christmas. The house will be decorated with fairy tale themes and the gardens will come aglow with a rainbow of coloured lights in the evenings. There is also a chance to meet Father Christmas. This was one of our favourite Christmas events in Devon last year. Also check out Coleton Aglow and Killerton’s Wind the Willows themed decorations.
Enchanted Saltram, Plymouth, 30 November to 30 December 2017, www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
More festive ideas
I’ve written a detailed post all about Christmas events happening in Devon this November and December.
Christmas in Edinburgh
Museum of ice
The Ice Adventure on George Street will be packed full of carvings and snow sculptures. Temperatures in this immersive museum will be maintained at -10 C, so wrap up warm and grab yourselves a hot chocolate at one of the market stalls afterwards to defrost. The Ice Adventure is part of a full programme of festive fun around Princes Street Gardens, including funfair rides and a huge advent calendar projected on the side of General Register House.
The Ice Adventure, Princes Street Gardens, 17 November to 24 December 2017, www.edinburghschristmas.com.
Christmas in Essex
Miniature Santa Express
Ride the Santa Express at Audley End Miniature Railway for a magical festive experience. The woods have been transformed into a winter wonderland compete with a craft area where you can write a letter to the Big Man under the guidance of cheeky elves. Kids will also get to meet Santa and receive a gift before being entertained by some crazy Christmas dancing.
A Magical Christmas Experience, Audley End Miniature Railway, selected dates in November and December, www.visitessex.com.
Christmas in Hampshire
From the Christmas lights being switched on in November to the final curtain on the pantomime and festive shows at many theatres, Basingstoke has a packed calendar of family events this winter. Families can visit Santa’s interactive grotto and meet his reindeers, marvel at the street theatre of the Santa Parade and visit the Christmas markets.
Christmas in Basingstoke, various locations, 16 November 2017 to 7 January 2018, full programme available at www.inbasingstoke.org.
Christmas in the historic dockyard
Travel back in time to Victorian Portsmouth where Dickensian characters wander the historic alley ways of the dockyard providing entertainment and festive cheer. This is one of the first Christmas events we went to with Tin Box Tot and Baby, and we still have great memories of it. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a fantastic backdrop for this thoroughly festive event with snow in the streets, roaming entertainers, market stalls and music. Read all about it in my review of the Victorian Festival of Christmas.
Victorian Festival of Christmas, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, 1 to 3 December 2017, Victorian Festival of Christmas.
Christmas in Hertfordshire
A spectacular Christmas on the farm
Willows Activity Farm is running its ever popular Santa Spectacular with a chance to meet Santa, make a cuddly reindeer, experience a sing-a-long nativity play with real farmyard animals and learn how to be one of Father Christmas’s helpers. Mummytravels visited last year. Here’s her review of the Willows Activity Farm Santa Spectacular.
Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm, 22 November to 24 December 2017, www.willowsactivityfarm.co.uk.
Christmas in Kent
Great Britain’s oldest surviving amusement park, Dreamland Margate, will be decked out as a winter wonderland. Skate around the 450 meter square ice rink, visit santa’s grotto, and enjoy live music and seasonal food and drink. Fans of The Snowman and The Snowdog will also be able to see them at the park on 21 December.
The Frosted Fairground at Dreamland, Margate, open weekends throughout December until 16 December 2017 then every day until 3 January 2018 (excluding Christmas Day), www.dreamland.co.uk.
Christmas in Leicestershire
If you’re looking for seasonal inspiration take a look at this post about for Christmas events in Leicestershire by We Travel in Threes.
Christmas in London
Santa charity run
Fancy a fun, sporty day out in aid of charity? The annual London Santa Dash in aid of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital is taking place on Clapham Common. Participants can choose to ‘dash’ 5k or 10k in a complimentary Santa costume with mulled drinks and mince pies at the finish line.
London Santa Dash, Clapham Common, 3 December, www.gosh.org.
Wintertime at Greenwich
An artisan market, street performers and an ice rink are being installed at the former Royal Naval College at Greenwich for the first time this year. There will also be a special screening of The Snowman accompanied by East London Brass.
Greenwich Wintertime Festival, 1 to 31 December 2017, www.greenwichwintertime.com.
Festivities in Leicester Square
There’s an elaborate programme of Christmas cheer happening in Leicester Square right into the New Year. Families will be able to enjoy shows for the kids like Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine, a Santa’s Grotto and European-style Christmas market, while there will be cabaret, comedy and music for the grown ups.
Christmas in Leicester Square, 10 November 2017 to 6 January 2018, www.christmasinleicestersquare.com.
A theatrical Winter Wonderland
The Royal Albert Hall will be hosting a immersive and theatrical Father Christmas experience. Young visitors will be able to make their way through a winter wonderland of characters and enchanted spaces telling a lively pre-Christmas story. They’ll also meet the White Queen and end their quest by receiving a present from Santa himself.
Father Christmas at the Hall, Royal Albert Hall, 5 to 24 December 2017, www.royalalberthall.com.
The Nutcracker reimagined
The world premier of a multi-media performance of The Nutcracker & I by Alexandra Dariescu is being staged at Milton Court in December. This 50 minute performance will captivate families as projected animations interact with a solo pianist and ballerina. Here’s a taster of what you can expect.
The Nutcracker & I, Milton Court, 19 December 2017, www.barbican.org.uk.
More festive ideas
If you’re looking for more ideas why not try ice skating at the Tower of London like the Pigeon Pair and Me family. And here’s how the Globalmouse Travels family spent a whole weekend in London in the run up to Christmas.
Christmas in the West Midlands
Telford’s Polar Express
Experience the magic of Christmas on the Polar Express at Telford Steam Railway. The Plutonium Sox family ticked this off their festive bucket list last Christmas.
Polar Express, Telford, 1 to 23 December 2017, www.telfordsteamrailway.co.uk.
Christmas in Newcastle
A magical window
For events in Newcastle and the North East there’s no better place to search for festive days out than North East Family Fun. Here’s the family’s visit to see Fenwick’s Window opened last year.
Fenwick, Newcastle, 3 November 2017 onwards, www.fenwick.co.uk.
Christmas in Norfolk
West End-style winter spectacular
The Thursford Christmas Spectacular is a fast-paced variety show with plenty of yule-tide pizzaz. A cast of 130 musicians, dancers and singers puts on a four hour show that will dazzle teens. For families with younger children there’s the Santa’s Winter Wonderland walk through experience and presents from the big man.
Thursford Christmas Spectacular, 8 November to 23 December 2017, www.thursford.com.
Christmas in Staffordshire
A date with Santa’s real reindeer
Meet Santa’s reindeer and go for a sleigh ride like the Otis & Us family last year. They loved meeting Santa, listening to stories read by the elves and seeing the reindeer roaming at Blithbury Reindeer Lodge.
Christmas events at Blithbury Reindeer Lodge, Rugeley, 10 November to 24 December 2017, www.blithburyreindeerlodge.co.uk.
Christmas in Warwickshire
Christmas in a castle
Warwick Castle will be celebrating Christmas with a 20 foot tree in the Great Hall, storytelling with Santa and a winter wedding mystery for young visitors to solve. What better day out for young knights and princesses?
Christmas at Warwick Castle, 25 November onwards, www.warwick-castle.com.
Christmas in Wiltshire
A safari park with a festive glow
Longleat Safari Park will be coming alive with Chinese lanterns for it’s annual Festival of Light. These enormous installations add to the winter magic happening at the park including a seasonal drive-through safari, and Santa train ride.
Festival of Light, Longleat, 5 November 2017 to 7 January 2018, www.longleat.co.uk.
Christmas in Yorkshire
The Magical Lantern Festival in Roundhay Park has to be seen to be believed. The enormous illuminations representing art and culture, all in spectacular colours, are literally larger than life. Wanted the grounds and discover new light displays at every turn. You can also find Magical Lantern Festivals happening in London, Birmingham and Manchester this year.
Magical Lantern Festival, Roundhay Park, 24 November 2017 to 1 January 2018, www.magicallantern.uk.
Historic Harewood House – a set for the gripping ITV series Victoria – will be playing its part this winter by hosting a Victorian Christmas. It is opening for the festive season for the first time in five years and will be decked with period decorations and showcase period toys on loan from Ilkley Toy Museum.
Victorian Christmas at Harewood House, 24 November and 31 December 2017, www.harewood.org.
Where else for Christmas days out with kids?
You’ll find oodles of Christmas days out with toddlers in this post by KiddieHolidays. And Flying with a Baby has all the info on Santa’s Grottos in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.
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