Family fun Christmas
Enter an enchanted forest in Gloucestershire and celebrate a Dickensian Christmas in Brighton...
Treat your children to a festive experience that they’ll never forget. Journey through a snow-coated fantasy world animated with polar bears, penguins, giant sized teddy bears and elves hard at work in the toy factory as you head to meet Father Christmas in his charming house bursting with presents.
When: 17, 18, 24 and 25 November and 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 23 December 2012
The lower floors of this sumptuous stately home will be transformed into the sets of not one, not two but thirteen family favourite pantomimes. Kids will be spellbound as they wander through the twinkling lights and copious dramatic decor meeting characters like Peter Pan, Puss in Boots and the Fairy Godmother as they go. They can also follow a special children’s trail with little hidden clues to find out the identity of each pantomime.
When: 10 November – 23 December 2012
Pay a visit to Father Christmas and his real-life reindeer in an unlikely and rather exotic grotto in Essex. Come on the 24 November and watch the chimps unwrap their Christmas presents and see the switch flipped on the twinkling Christmas illuminations. After the children insist they’ve been very well behaved all year (we doubt it!) and receive a gift from the man in red, it’s on to the Mini Panto to yell “he’s behind you!” as loudly as you can.
When: 24 and 25 November and 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 19 to 24 December 2012
Even those with extremely long attention spans will find it hard to concentrate on any one thing at this 32-acre Christmas spectacular. There’ll be hundreds of traditional wooden chalets overflowing with European specialities such as icing-doused gingerbread hearts and chocolate-smothered crepes. Festive entertainers and row upon row of Christmas trinkets are just waiting to be rummaged through. If you prefer an adrenaline rush to a sugar high, jump on the fairground rides or throw some frosty shapes on London's biggest open-air ice rink.
When: 23 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
An unmissable glittering wonderland takes over the National Arboretum this Christmas, as thousands of twinkling lights illuminate the towering trees of the Old Arboretum. Take the 45-minute trail that highlights the trees’ mystical shapes and then head inside for another wonderland, filled with decorative snow, icicles and the sound of carols, to learn about the history of Christmas trees and meet Father Christmas dressed in traditional green.
When: 30th November – 23rd December 2012
For children who are a little too young for wicked witches and Widow Twankeys Charlotte’s Web – The Musical! is a great alternative. Watershed Productions bring this heart-warming tale of friendship to the Manchester Waterside Art Centre just in time for Christmas.
When: 14 December 2012 – 5 January 2013
A traditional Christmas treat for everyone. Come on down to Brighton’s most eccentric landmark and meet the big man himself amidst beautifully decorated rooms glistening with Christmas lights and good cheer. And after your kids have their one-to-one with St Nick, take them on a wander through this extraordinary building.
When: 13 - 23 December 2012
Forget Barbie and Ben 10. We think handmade toys are much cooler, so head to Kenilworth Castle with the family for a traditional toy workshop with historical games experts. You’ll learn how to magic up a wooden character that you can pop on the Christmas tree, give as a gift or add to an ever-expanding toy collection. Move over Woody!
When: 27-31 December 2011
Each year Gateshead’s 55-acre Victorian Saltwell Park is transformed into an enchanting arty wonderland sprinkled with festive fantasy and illuminated with about every colour of the rainbow. You’ll spot glow-in-the-dark swans nestled by the pond, make friends with mythical creatures hidden in the trees and interact with bizarre art installations.
When: 7-11 December 2011
Who needs Lapland when you’ve got Stockeld Park? As well as Father Christmas’ magical grotto, a massive ice rink and a Christmas tree store, this year there’s a brand new Enchanted Forest to explore too. A glittering fantasy world full of festive surprises, children can lose themselves in the illuminated hedge maze or try a spot of skiing on the Nordic cross-country ski trail. Oh and keep an eye out for mystical woodland characters as you meander through the ancient woodlands.
When: 21 October 2011 – 8 January 2012
Please check attractions’ websites for exact time and date info.
Christmas ice skating
Under the stars in the winter air...Outdoor ice skating