Christmas family days out
Putting up the decorations, placing the baubles on the tree, wrapping gifts, baking, playing games with the children, welcoming family and friends for drinks… there’s so much going on at home at Christmas it’s sometimes easy to not venture out at all. But, a family day out on a crisp winter’s day can make your warm home all the more welcoming when you return to it. We’ve flown our sleigh around the country to see what’s going on during the festive period.
Ice skating and Santa at the Eden Project.
Winter always starts early at the Eden Project, with the annual ice rink opening in time for the October half term. Christmas gets underway with opportunities to see Santa at Europe’s largest indoor rainforest from November.
Hop aboard the Santa Express at Audley Edge miniature railway and travel through the winter wonderland to meet Santa. There are also crafts, face painting, storytelling and a Christmas disco!
Head back to Victorian times as you wander around the historic alleys of Portsmouth dockyard, which is brimming with entertainment and festive fun.
The Victorian Festival of Christmas runs between 29 November and 1 December 2019.
A magical Christmas market in Winchester
Experience one of Europe’s best Christmas markets surrounding the beautiful Winchester Cathedral. Visit the many stalls filled with gifts and tasty treats before having a skate on the nearby ice rink. The market runs between 22 November to 22 December.
Willows Activity Farm
Enjoy festive farm fun with a difference with a sing-a-long nativity play complete with real farmyard animals. Before meeting Santa himself you can also take part in some fun activities and learn how to be one of Santa’s helpers.
Christmas lights at Bedgebury
This beautiful mile-long illuminated trail is sure to light up your Christmas. New installations and shimmering decorations will help you spot Father Christmas and his elves nestled among the pine trees.
London Santa dash
The London Santa Dash makes exercise a whole lot of festive fun. Pull on a red suit and choose between the 5k or 10k distances to raise money for Great Ormond Street hospital. Sign up now for this dash across the historic Brockwell Park on Sunday 8 December.
Wave at Eccleston Yards
This delightful light installation sees 500 individual orbs suspended in the air to create the most magical Christmas light display. And it’s free to visit!
Take part in a Christmas crafts session at Newport Wetlands to create your own magical creation from log reindeers to tree decorations. Each participant will receive a DIY bird feeder to help look after the visitors to your garden over the winter months.
Fenwick Christmas window
Fenwick always pulls out all the stops when it comes to Christmas displays. Take the kids for a wander up Newcastle’s Northumberland Street and let them stumble on a festive display that will make their eyes pop! This is a free gift from the city’s upmarket retail store.
Blenheim Palace is transformed every Christmas and this year sees a new indoor Alice in Wonderland themed spectacular take over the state rooms during the day and a Christmas light trail across the stunning parkland in the evening. This event runs 22 November to 1 January 2020.
Bath Christmas Market
When Bath’s Christmas market is on, the historic city’s picturesque squares and streets teem with wonderful festive fayre. Perfect gifts for all your loved ones are on offer between 28 November and 15 December.
Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas market
Visit the historic Stratford-upon-Avon for this three-day spectacular, between 6-8 December, with market stalls, traditional fun fair and family entertainment.
Longleat Safari Park
Longleat Safari Park once again hosts its annual festival of light, filled with Chinese lanterns themed around myths and legends. Complete the trip with a seasonal safari and Santa train ride between 9 November and 5 January 2020.
The stunning Stockeld Park will be filled with winter magic this year. Find your way out of the illuminated snowflake maze, try your hand at Nordic skiing, whizz around the ice rink and see the award-winning illuminations.
Keeping it simple
Christmas is an expensive time as it is so festive days out don’t have to cost a lot of money. Whether you want to head out in the fresh air, get creative or simply spread some festive cheer why not try a few of these fun activities you can do without raiding the piggy banks.
• Pull on your hats and wellies and take a winter walk around your neighbourhood to spot all the Christmas lights
• Create the perfect Christmas movie night with your favourite classic. Put on your pjs, bring the duvets down on the sofa and snuggle up with popcorn
• Gather friends and family and bring back some old-fashioned carol singing! Your neighbours may even enjoy a visit and you can finish with hot chocolates and mince pie treats
• Encourage the kids to make a Christmas list by taking them window shopping at the local toy shop – a sure-fire way to build excitement without spending a penny (at least not initially)
• Go reindeer spotting in your local woods. Ok, so you may not see any but the kids will enjoy walking around following an imaginary trail to find them. You could even go on ahead and place a little jar of homemade reindeer food for them to find and take home
• Why not give something back with a random act of Christmas kindness? Volunteer at a local charity, take a visit to your elderly neighbours or take a food parcel to the local food bank. It will help show the meaning of Christmas and bring a smile to someone’s face