50+ wonderful Christmas family days out 2020
Stuck for what to get your kids this Christmas? Let’s face it, after the 2020 we’ve all had it’s got to be special! So, why not give them an experience rather than another toy! In this post I’ve included some of the best UK Christmas days out with kids in 2020.
PLEASE NOTE: this post is being updated regularly (last update: 18 September 2020) but the most up-to-date information is available on each venue’s website.
I can guarantee that it’s not that whizzy new piece of plastic that my kids babble on about in those moments before they fall asleep at night. It’s that magical trip we took together or that special new place we visited.
With this in mind why not treat your family to a Christmas day out near you rather than mountains of stuff? Here’s some more ideas for gifts for the whole family.
And while you are planning ahead, why not check out these outdoor things to do in England this autumn.
Christmas family days out near you 2020
Please note: Christmas events in 2020 may be subject to change. Always check with the attraction or venue for the latest information. For updates and inclusion of your event please contact me.
Here’s where you’ll find snowy white winter wonderlands, amazing Christmas shows and sparkling Santa’s grottos around the UK in 2020 (sorted alphabetically by area):
Christmas days out 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 in 2016 and another by Kaz from Ickle Pickle’s Life and Travels who visited in the same year.
The first release of tickets for Christmas 2020 have already sold out. Sign up for the Lapland UK newsletter on their website to hear about the next batch of ticket sales.
LaplandUK, Ascot, 15 November to 24 December, 2020, www.laplanduk.co.uk.
Christmas family race day
An absolutely unmissable day at one of the country’s most prestigious racecourses and part of Great British Racing’s Under 18s Race Free initiative.
Not only does this special raceday feature the most valuable day of jumps racing at Ascot, it also brings visits from Father Christmas and his reindeer, story-telling from Mrs Christmas, pony rides, dodgems, a carol singing concert, festival cocktails and free fairground rides. Advance tickets start from £27.
Ascot Racecourse, Saturday 19 December 2020, Ascot Racecourse.
The magic of Christmas at LEGOLAND
Families have have a festive experience at Legoland this Christmas with rides, characters and LEGO® builds. The highlight of your day will be meeting Father Christmas in his magical grotto.
Once he’s checked his list twice, each child will receive a special LEGO gift.
Tickets including a visit to see Father Christmas are £36 per person or £26 per person for Annual Pass holders and can be pre-booked online in advance only. Under 2’s get free entry.
Christmas at LEGOLAND, elected dates from 28 November to 23 December 2020. www.legoland.co.uk.
Christmas days out in Birmingham
Christmas with Thomas the Tank Engine – TBC
Drayton Manor is still to release details of its 2020 Christmas event.
Here’s a taster of what to expect in this review of Drayton Manor’s yule-tide experience from a previous year by Natalie at Plutonium Sox.
Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas, www.draytonmanor.co.uk/magicalchristmas.
An artic adventure at the Sea Life Centre
The Sealife Centre in Birmingham is yet to release information about its Christmas events in 2020. Here’s a review of Christmas at the National Sea Life Centre in a previous year by Natalie at Plutonium Sox.
National Sea Life Centre, TBC 2020, www.visitsealife.com/birmingham.
Christmas in Buckinghamshire
Christmas at the Rothchild house
Experience a world of festive, musical splendour, as the gardens and exterior of Waddesdon – the Rothschild house in Buckinghamshire – is transformed for Christmas 2020.
This Christmas, will be a little different tom previous years as the house and cellars will be closed but there will still be plenty of wonder for visitors.
Christmas at Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, selected dates from 14 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, waddesdon.org.uk/whats-on/.
Christmas days out in Cheshire
A Fairytale Christmas Mansion at Tatton Park
Tatton Park is yet to release information about its Christmas events in 2020.
Christmas at Tatton Park, Knutsford, TBC 2020, www.tattonpark.org.uk.
Christmas at Dunham Massey
The sell-out trail returns for a fourth year to this historic National Trust property. Look out for the giant glittering deer as you step into a world festooned with seasonal cheer where huge snowflakes create an aerial kaleidoscope over the Gardens and pause for a moment of quiet reflection at the crystal and fire garden, aglow with hundreds of flickering flames.
Tickets sell out fast each year, therefore early booking is advised.
Dunham Massey, Altrincham, 20 November to 30 December 2020, nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey.
Lightopia at Heaton Park
The festival of light and lanterns is returning to Heaton Park in 2020 with interactive installations, are the 50 lantern displays and a trail.
Lightopia, Greater Manchester, 20 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, lightopiafestival.com.
Also skip to the section about what’s on in the Peak District this Christmas.
Christmas days out in Cornwall
Santa by Steam at Bodmin & Wenford Railway
Take a special journey with the railway elves to visit Santa’s grotto. Arrive at Bodmin General Station for mince pies, seasonal drinks and carols on the platform, before climbing aboard for an hour-long return journey on a beautiful steam hauled train.
During the trip you’ll visit Santa, with plenty of time for a photo, and gifts for each child.
Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Bodmin, selected dates from 5 to 24 December 2020, bodminrailway.co.uk
Christmas Fayre at The Eden Project
The Eden project has announced dates for its Christmas Fayre which will take place on 11 and 12 November 2020.
Christmas Fayre at the Eden Project, St Austell, November 2020, www.edenproject.com.
More Christmas days out in Cornwall
I’m updating a separate post about what’s on in Cornwall this Christmas with more events as they are announced.
Christmas in Denbighshire
Santa Specials on Llangollen Railway
Join a Santa for a Lapland adventure on Llangollen Railway. Everyone will receive a drink and a seasonal sweet treat to enjoy as you settle down before steaming through the wonderful Dee Valley.
Jump off the train to go and see Santa in his grotto and receive a special gift from Santa’s elves.
Llangollen Railway, Llangollen, selected dates from 5 to 24 December 2020, www.llangollen-railway.co.uk
Christmas in Derbyshire
Skip to the section about what’s on in the Peak District this Christmas.
Christmas days out in Devon
If you’re looking for more inspiration for days out in Devon this December I’ve written about more than 20+ Christmas events in Devon including pantomimes, cruises with Father Christmas, events happening at family attractions and Santa trains.
Here’s one of our favourites – the Crealy Christmas Spectacular (TBC in 2020):
Christmas days out in Dorset
Christmas in Bournemouth
Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland 2020 has been postponed. A scaled-back alpine event is planned with fewer festive stalls and a smaller alpine bar. The illuminated nativity tree will be there. Bournemouth’s Christmas Tree Wonderland will be back in 2021.
Read about our weekend visiting Bournemouth for the Christmas Tree Wonderland in 2019 and take a look at our video to see what you can expect in 2021 – get it in your calendar now:
Alpine Village, Bournemouth, 13 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, www.christmastreewonderland.co.uk.
Sail with Santa
Soak up the festive spirit with a Santa Claus cruise around Poole Harbour. City Cruises Poole offer sailings with Santa from Poole Quay with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie while listening to Christmas carols.
There’s a 30-minute magic show and balloon modelling performance for the kids as well as biscuits, soft drinks and a special present from Santa
Sail with Santa Poole Cruises, Poole Quay, selected dates and times from 5 November to 24 December 2020, www.citycruisespoole.com
Christmas in Edinburgh
Light Night in Edinburgh
The Scottish capital’s hugely popular Christmas celebrations officially start with in November. Details are still to be released but this free community event will showcase Edinburgh’s musical talent, and Santa himself will make a special exit as he lights up the city and gets the festive season off to a ‘flying’ start.
Light Night, Edinburgh, November 2020 to January 2021, www.edinburghschristmas.com.
Christmas at the Botanics
Now established as a firm family tradition, the new trail for 2020 will showcase a botanical world festooned with seasonal cheer, with bouncing lines of light in the laser garden and giant luminescent sculptures rising high into the night sky. Inverleith House will once again spring to life with a new festive projection across its historic façade.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 26 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, rbge.org.uk/christmas
Find more Christmas events in Scotland as collated by Jenny from Monkey and Mouse.
Christmas days out 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 having a boogie in the Christmas dance tent.
A Magical Christmas Experience, Audley End Miniature Railway, selected dates between 21 November and 24 December 2020, www.audley-end-railway.co.uk.
Christmas days out in Gloucestershire
Enchanted Westonbirt Arboretum
Enchanted Christmas for Westonbirt. 2015 paulbox © firstname.lastname@example.org
The Enchanted Westonbirt illuminated trail will return in 2020. Set out on an adventure through the trees of the arboretum to find Santa’s workshop here in Westonbirt, West Pole.
Here you can meet the elves that help Father Christmas make the toys for the children, come across talking trees and make your way through the Candy Cane Forest on your quest to the West Pole.
Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire, 28 November to 21 December 2020, www.forestryengland.uk/westonbirt
Christmas days out in Hampshire
Christmas at Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World
Visitors will be able to see Peppa Pig World decorated for the season as well as a new Christmas show and illuminations around the park.
Paultons Park, Romsey, 21 November to 23 December 2020, paultonspark.co.uk/christmas
Christmas market in Winchester
Voted the UK’s best Christmas market, Winchester Cathedral will be going ahead in 2020.
Find wonderful Christmas gifts, decorations and festive foods in a delightful Food Court, British Crafts Village, and more than 110 chalets.
Winchester Christmas market, Winchester, 19 November to 22 December 2020, www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk.
Emirates Spinnaker Tower Christmas events
The team at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower is still working on their Christmas family events for 2020. You can sign up for updates on their website or watch this space for news.
Christmas in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has not released information about its Christmas events in 2020 yet.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, TBC 2020, Festival of Christmas.
A Royal Christmas on the Mary Rose
The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth has not yet released details about its Christmas events for 2020.
Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth, TBC 2020, maryrose.org.
Christmas days out in Hertfordshire
A spectacular Christmas on the farm
Willows Activity Farm is runs a popular Santa Spectacular each year but it yet to release details for 2020.
Mummytravels visited in 2016. Here’s her review of the Willows Activity Farm Santa Spectacular.
Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm, 23 November to 24 December 2020, www.willowsactivityfarm.com.
Christmas at Paradise Wildlife Park
Santa will be arriving in style to open Paradise Wildlife Park’s Christmas Market. Meet him in his grotto, decorate ginger bread and baubles, and write your letter to Santa and the elves.
Santa’s grotto at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, selected dates from 23 November to 24 December 2020, www.pwpark.com/events
Christmas events in the Isle of Wight
Santa Specials on Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Board one of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s historic steam trains at Havenstreet for an atmospheric ride through wintery woodland. Feel like you’re travelling in style as you and your family will have your own compartment for your exclusive use.
Back at Havenstreet follow the pathway to Santa’s North Pole station, where you’ll be warmly welcomed by a seasonal Station Master and his helpers. Next Meet Santa himself on board a traditionally festive Victorian carriage.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway, Havenstreet, selected dates from 5 to 24 December 2020, iwsteamrailway.co.uk
Christmas days out in Kent
Illuminations at Bedgebury
This family-friendly one-mile magical festive trail in the heart of the High Weald AONB countryside will once again be awash with colour. Christmas at Bedgebury is full of seasonal surprises and shimmering reflections that cast light on beautiful silhouettes of majestic trees.
Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest, Kent, 20 November to 31 December 2021, christmasatbedgebury.co.uk
Dreamland Margate this winter
Dreamland is yet to confirm whether its winter events will be going ahead.
Dreamland, Margate, TBC 2020, www.dreamland.co.uk.
Festive fun at Kent Life heritage farm
A host of festive activities will be happening at Kent Life throughout December, from a live nativity with real animals to a WWI Home Front Christmas experience. Father Christmas will also be visiting.
There’s a chance to meet him in his magical grotto and take home a special gift. There’s also the opportunity to decorate some festive gingerbread too! Grown ups can also enjoy a cheeky mince pie and sampling of cider.
Kent Life heritage farm, Maidstone, selected dates form 5 to 24 December 2020, kentlife.org.uk
Santa’s grotto at The Reindeer Centre
Meet Santa and his reindeer at The Reindeer Centre. More details about the festive activities happening at the centre will be released soon.
The Reindeer Centre, Bethersden, open daily from 14 December 2020, www.reindeercentre.co.uk
Christmas events in Leicestershire
Santa Steam Trains at Great Central Railway
Santa has swapped his sleigh for a fun filled journey on an enchanting steam train at Great Central Railway. Ride a Santa Special and let Father Christmas surprise you with a an exciting present at your seat.
Great Central Railway, Loughborough, selected dates from 28 November to 24 December 2020, www.gcrailway.co.uk/santa
Christmas days out in London
Christmas at Kew
Now in its eighth year, Christmas at Kew returns with a brand-new trail to illuminate the magnificent gardens. With over one million lights, this winter trail will be more twinkling and sparkling than ever before.
Visitors can expect festive bursts of colour as they explore Kew’s iconic landscape.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 18 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, kew.org/christmas
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 Lincolnshire
Christmas at Belton
Following last year’s success, Christmas at Belton will once again light up the historic tree canopies of this magnificent country-house estate. Discover giant luminescent candles rising high into the night sky, glowing flowers and snowflakes where you least expect them. Don’t forget to watch out for Father Christmas along the way.
Belton House, Grantham, 27 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house
Christmas days out in Newcastle
Fenwick’s 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 revealed.
Fenwick, Newcastle, early November 2020 onwards, www.fenwick.co.uk.
Christmas days out in Norfolk
Enchanted Journey of Light at Thursford
The Thursford Christmas Spectacular has been postponed in 2020 and for one year only is being replaced with the Enchanted Journey of Light.
This wonderland trail will include fairytale characters, immersive light displays and the UK’s largest kinetic light display.
Thursford Christmas Spectacular, 19 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, www.thursford.com.
Festive Express at Bure Valley Railway
Hop on board the Festive Express steam train for a one hour experience from Aylsham Station including festive treats and a guest appearance from Santa. Each child will receive a personalised present.
Bure Valley Railway, Aylsham, selected dates from 5 to 24 December 2020, www.bvrw.co.uk/events
Christmas events in Northumberland
A Magical Christmas at Beamish Hall
A Magical Christmas is an immersive theatrical experience for those who believe in the magic of Christmas. This event takes places within the hotel’s Enchanted Woodland where a world filled with illuminations, musical displays, interactive props, projections, and theatrical performers has been created.
A Magical Christmas at Beamish Hall, Stanley, selected dates from 5 to 20 December, www.beamish-hall.co.uk
Christmas at Life Science Centre
Explore winter skies, create 3D decorations to take home, enjoy festive science demonstrations and skate on the outdoor ice rink – just some of the things you can enjoy at Life this Christmas!
Life Science Centre, NewcastleGateshead, from 7 November 2020 to 5 January 2021, www.newcastlegateshead.com.
Christmas days out in Oxfordshire
Blenheim illuminated light trail
Blenheim Palace will be transformed with its illuminated outdoor light trail for this year’s Christmas celebrations at the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site.
Inspired by the landscape itself, visitors embark on a winterland adventure, dramatically illuminated with stunning lights. Featuring lasers and light projections, visitors wander under magical tree canopies drenched in seasonal colour and dripping with silvery shards of light, frosty snowflakes, stars and baubles.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, 20 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, www.blenheimpalace.com.
Christmas in the Peak District
Take a look at this brilliant guide on Peak District Kids to what’s happening in the Peak District this Christmas including events at Chatsworth House and Poole’s Cavern, plus Christmas markets.
Christmas in Somerset
Somerset Reindeer Ranch
The Ranch is planning a scaled back Christmas in 20202 but it’s still very much on. Meet Santa’s reindeer, enjoy a mug of Mother Christmas’ hot chocolate and receive a present from the North Pole.
You can also book exclusive VIP visits for the ultimate socially distanced reindeer experience. Keep an eye on the website for details to be released.
Somerset Reindeer Rance, Illchester, Somerset, dates TBC www.somersetreindeer.co.uk
Christmas days out in Shropshire
A Victorian Christmas at Blists Hill
Blists Hill is yet to confirm its Victorian Christmas event at Ironbridge in Shropshire.
Blists Hill, Shropshire, TBC 2020, www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/blists-hill-victorian-town
Christmas days out in Staffordshire
Winter Wonderland at Snowdome
Sant’s magical winter wonderland in the snow returns this year with extended reception area plus a larger theatre for a Covid secure experience. With real snow, real animals and an all new winter wonderland show, it’s sure to be a special festive experience in 2020.
Snowdome, Tamworth, from 14 November to 31 December 2020, www.snowdome.co.uk.
A North Pole Adventure
The National Forest Adventure Farm is yet to confirm its Christmas 2020 events. Here’s a review of previous visit to The North Pole Adventure by Otis & Us last year.
The North Pole Adventure, National Forest Adventure Farm, TBC 2020, www.adventurefarm.co.uk.
Also see the section above about what’s on in the Peak District this Christmas.
Christmas days out in Sussex
Christmas at Drusillas
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Drusillas Park! Experience the magic first-hand as Santa Claus returns to his cosy Christmas Cottage once again.
Bring your little elves to meet the big man himself and continue the festive fun with Drusillas’ giant 24-foot Christmas Tree and a visit to the Husky Cave. Come and sip your mulled wine, tuck into a yummy mince pie and let Drusillas fill you with Christmas cheer!
Drusillas Park, East Sussex, selected dates from 21 November 2020, www.drusillas.co.uk/christmas-events
The Great Christmas Pudding Race
This is one of the wackiest races you’ll ever see! Competitors aged from 14 to 70 din fancy dress and race around a 150 metre course balancing a Christmas pudding on a flimsy paper plate. They have to navigate two slippery inflatables, balloons filled with flour, jets of foam and limbo poles.
The race also takes place in London on the same day.
The Great Christmas Pudding Race, East Sussex, 5 December 2020, www.xmaspuddingrace.org.uk.
Christmas days out in Warwickshire
Christmas at the Magic Alley
Visit the Enchanted Manor and explore 10 festive rooms while completing a quest before meeting Father Christmas and receiving a present and candy cane. Continue through the snowy Enchanted Forest where you can play in the snow and throw snowballs!
The Magic Alley, Stratford, selected dates from 21 November to 24 December 2020, www.magicalleystratford.com/christmas
Christmas in a castle
Warwick Castle will be announcing details of its Christmas celebrations and events soon.
Christmas at Warwick Castle, from 28 November 2020, www.warwick-castle.com.
Christmas days out in Wiltshire
Longleat Land of Lights
The illuminations at Longleat are going to look a bit different this year as the usual Festival of Light is put on hold. the good news is it is being replaced with a festive Land of Light this winter.
Running from November to January, Land of Light features over 6,000 spectacular light sources, illuminating seven themed areas across the Wiltshire estate.
Specially created for Longleat, the Land of Light’s technology, art and interactive installations provide a stunning alternative to the Festival of Light, which has had to be postponed due to coronavirus, and will return in 2021.
See sensational projections light up the iconic Longleat House, dancing fountains and amazing animated laser shows suspended above Half Mile Lake.
Land of Light, Longleat, from 7 November 2020 to 21 January 2021, www.longleat.co.uk.
Illuminations at Stourhead
Find new moments to share as the after-dark trail lights up the beautiful National Trust gardens at Stourhead, Wiltshire for a second year. Walk past giant luminescent sculptures rising high into the night sky and trees wrapped in light on your way to a field of crocuses, where a carpet of larger than life flora glows gently in the moonlight.
Stourhead, Mere, Wiltshire, 27 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, nationaltrust.org.uk/Stourhead
Christmas days out in Yorkshire
Santa Special at North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Help Santa save Christmas at North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Hop aboard a heritage steam engine at the beautifully decorated Pickering Station for a magical Christmas adventure.
Tickets include interaction with Santa’s elves, a photo opportunity to remember your visit, a reserved private compartment on a decorated steam train, return travel from Pickering to Levisham Station (approx. 60 min journey), a quality present for each child and your very own copy of the Snow Bound Express newspaper.
North Yorkshire Moor Railway Santa Specials, selected dates from 5 to 24 December 2020, www.nymr.co.uk
Santa’s Elf Village at Lotherton Hall
Lotherton Hall puts on a magical Christmas experience. Meet Santa, Snowy Flake and his friends in their elven bivouac under the magical wishing tree for stories and elf tales. Visit Dizzy Bells in Reindeer Emporium and take home some magical reindeer feed for Rudolph on Christmas Eve.
Pop by and say hello to Postmaster Pippin McJingles in Ye Olde Post Office Central to ensure your letter to Santa is safely on its way. Finally meet the main man himself in Santa’s Cabin for a special Christmas one to one, and a little present for the journey home.
Lotherton Hall, Leeds, selected dates from 27 November to 23 December 2020, https://thechristmasexperience.co.uk
Wensleydale Polar Express
Board the Polar Express at Wensleydale Railway for a magical ride to the North Pole this Christmas. Join the train at Leeming Bar station and be entertained by characters from this wonderful festive film.
Wear you PJs to get into the spirit of the journey and expect an appearance by Santa himself.
Wensleydale Polar Express,selected dates from 21 November to 23 December 2020, yorkshiredalesthepolarexpressride.com
The City Cruises York Santa Experience is a truly magical event on the River Ouse. Guests enter a grotto, cleverly hidden away underneath the beautiful Lendal Bridge.
Once the Santa Experience Captain has checked all the children off the nice list, there’s refreshments an presents for all the good children.
City Cruises York Santa Experience, York, on selected dates from 22 November to 23 December 2020, www.citycruisesyork.com
Lightwater Valley Alice in Winterland illuminations
There will be an Alice in Winterland giant lantern trail in the park with displays including the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and, of course, Alice herself.
Families can also enjoy some traditional fairground fun including a spin on the carousel and take to the night sky on the Skyrider. There will also be a Christmas themed UV puppet show, Santa’s workshop and Santa Express.
Christmas at Lightwater Valley, selected dates from 21 November to Wednesday 23 December 2020, www.lightwatervalley.co.uk.
A Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park
With an ice rink, ski trail, enchanted forest and the chance to meet Santa, Stockeld Park offers a full on festive day out. Plus after dark the park is illuminated with thousands of family lights.
Check out this review of Christmas at Stockeld Park by Colette from We’re Going on an Adventure on Mini Travellers.
Christmas Adventure, Stockeld Park, from November 2020, www.stockeldpark.co.uk.Christmas at Lightwater Valley
Take a look at Yorkshire Tots to Teens for a full guide to things to do this Christmas in West Yorkshire.
Where else for Christmas days out with kids?
Carrie at Flying with a Baby has all the info on Santa’s Grottos in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.
And if you are a fan of festive markets, here’s a round up of the best UK Christmas markets.
If you know of a wonderful Christmas day out with kids that should be included in my post get in touch.
Planning your Christmas days out with kids in 2020? Use Pinterest to save this post about Christmas days out near you for future reference.