Are you looking for something that extra bit special this Christmas? Hopefully, the following ultimate bucket list of 26 great family things to do in 2017, in the UK, will help you plan that very special experience. I have not experienced all of these myself (sadly), they are merely suggestions.
Hurry, hurry, hurry because those that can be pre-booked are booking up fast…some may already be sold out!
Baytree Christmas Grotto Spalding
One of the best Winter wonderlands and Grottos in the UK. Christmas at Baytree garden centre in Spalding has displays of decorations and lights that are envied far and wide. Baytree Winter Wonderland now boasts a staggering 26,000 square feet of undercover area. Winding your way through hundreds of snow-covered trees, onto Santa’s magic sleigh ride, into the heart of Winter Wonderland. Hop off the sleigh and amble through the lights, past the toy workshop and all Santa’s helpers and friends
Open every day from Saturday 4th November. Check the website for opening times. Make sure you arrive early. On peak days you could end up queuing for 2 hours.
Blithbury reindeer lodge
Christmas Experience includes:
- Entry into Blithbury Reindeer Lodge
- Talks by our experienced staff
- The opportunity to feed and fuss over 100 reindeer
- Story-time by the fire
- Attendance at the original Elf School – where you’ll receive a certificate of attendance**
- A personal visit with Santa
- Access to the Elves Toy Workshop, where each child selects a gift
Extras – A Sleigh Ride in a traditional Scandinavian Sleigh (1 adult and 1 child). Receive a driving licence for those who have had a sleigh ride, officially signed by the Reindeer Man. Note: Sleigh Rides are bookable at the ticket office on the day of your visit.
From Saturday 11th November
Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland
Situated in the heart of Cardiff the Admiral Ice Rink will this year see the return of the clear span roof to keep skaters dry and allow sparkling views of City Hall and the night sky. Returning for 2017 the Alpine Village is the popular catering area at Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland. Come and enjoy some ‘Apres Skate’ at our Bierkeller Bar to sample a heartwarming Gluhwein or refreshing Beer. Our authentic chalet units will serve delicious treats including German sausages cooked on a traditional swing grill and freshly made crepes. There will also be a funfair.
From Thursday 9th November
Christmas at Blenheim Palace
Follow the trail along winding paths, tranquil waters, and extraordinary Parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. Explore the scented Fire Garden; a circular carpet of dancing flames, adorned with lanterns, all set against the backdrop of glittering ancient woodland in Christmas colour that stretches high into the night sky. Discover Christmas trees that sing, a swaying lawn of fibre optic colour and sparkling hedgerows. The lake will be aglow with brightly-lit boats and dancing fountain jets, and the woodland across the Great Lake will spring to life in time to much-loved Christmas music. The hour-long discovery trail has been specially designed for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Christmas at Blenheim – the Great Outdoors made magical.
From Friday 24th November.
Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas, Thomas land
Join them for a truly Magical Christmas experience this festive season, from Saturday 18th November for selected dates until Sunday 31st December. They are celebrating 10 magical years of Christmas, with live shows, carols, presents, light shows, festive food, Father Christmas and every day ending with a magnificent fireworks display, plus so much more. What more could you want from a fantastic Magical Christmas event?
Thomas Land and selected family rides only will be open during Magical Christmas plus their 15-acre Zoo and 4D cinema showing a brand new addition to Magical Christmas, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas. Remember to visit the Castle of Dreams to see Father Christmas where all children receive a free gift and also check out their Slide & Glide rink in the park as well.
From Saturday 18th November.
Edinburgh’s Christmas offers no shortage of things to see and do this winter. Enjoy panoramic views of the capital from the top of the Big Wheel, spin around on the charming carousel in East Princes Street Gardens or brave a twirl on the 60-metre-high Star Flyer.
Younger kids will love Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens, a festive fairground with six fun rides and a children’s market full of gifts and toys. Try to find the Elves’ Workshop hidden in the Christmas Tree Maze, or visit Santa’s Grotto to meet the man himself! St Andrew Square will be hosting an oval ice rink, looping around the Melville Monument – hire a pair of skates and spin across the ice behind a gorgeous backdrop of the glittering city.
From Friday 17th November
Enchanted forest, Gloucestershire
This December, take a walk through a magical wonderland of trees on the Enchanted Christmas Illuminated Trail at Westonbirt Arboretum. Along the 45 minute illuminated trail, you’ll discover an exciting array of beautiful light displays scattered amongst the trees, and find plenty of wintery magic to get involved with along the way…
After the trail why not visit our Chrismas Village, where you’ll have the chance to meet Father and Mother Christmas, listen to local choirs perform festive classics, have a ride on our traditional carousel or enjoy a warming meal in our restaurant or merry marquee.
Entrance is by advance ticket only.
On selected dates from Friday the 1st December
English Heritage – Enchanted Garden Events
These unique events will lead you along an enchanting garden trail into a magical wonderland as some of their historic places are bathed in dramatic illumination. Strings of lanterns laced through the boughs of trees, fairy lights twinkling behind leaves and special surprises will transport you into a dream-like version of the past.
And the experience doesn’t end when the trail does. Emerging into the scene of a traditional fairground, you’ll be carried back to times gone by. There will be plenty to enjoy besides – from mince pies and mulled wine, to Christmas shopping at our heritage-inspired stalls.
From Friday 15th December at Osbourne – Isle of Wight. Audley end house – Essex. Eltham Palace – London. Kenilworth castle – Warwickshire. Brodsworth hall – South Yorkshire. Belsay Hall – Northumberland.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London
There is so much to do here that I don’t know where to start!
Come down to Winter Wonderland and see a show. Sit back and be entertained in one of our heated, theatre-style venues. This year the fantastic Winter Palace Theatre is back with a new show, the enchanting fairytale Cinderella on Ice, plus jaw-dropping antics in the Circus Megadome!
You’re truly spoilt for choice with over 100 rides that will make you spin, fly and drop from a great height to get the heart pumping! Or if you prefer a slower pace there are plenty of gentle rides, fun houses and games to test your skills.
Explore the land of Santa, see his workshop, meet the elves or ride on the Santa Express. An enchanting experience with children’s rides, games, eateries and all the magic of Christmas!
And much more…
From Friday the 17th November
Kew Gardens – Christmas at Kew
Follow their sparkling trail of over one million twinkling lights, illuminating heritage trees and buildings through the Gardens.
Fairy-tale meets fantasy in a world of singing trees, larger-than-life flora, ribbons of light, giant baubles, and a flickering Fire Garden. The Palm House leaps into life with a dazzling show of laser beams, jets of light and kaleidoscopic projections.
Little ones can catch a glimpse of Santa and his elves at the North Pole village and enjoy a vintage fairground ride. Not so little ones can warm up with some mulled wine or hot chocolate and toast marshmallows around the fire.
From Wednesday 22nd November
LaplandUK is an original adaptation of the Father Christmas story and the secret world of the elves brought to life through a 4-hour immersive experience of unprecedented scale and quality. Included in the ticket price is a personalised invitation and entry into Father Christmas’ arctic homeland, an Elf Passport for every child, all activities, ice skating and a beautiful gift for every child. Also included is one photograph of your children with Father Christmas per booking. Plus a Christmas Morning Thank You card from Father Christmas!.
From Saturday 18th November
Nene Valley Railway – Santa Specials
Your Santa experience starts with a welcome from the station staff and badge team – entertainment is provided at busy weekends. This is followed by an exciting visit to Santa’s log cabin where each child receives a special present from the old gentleman himself.
Following a short wait families then join their steam hauled, decorated train for a fun-filled ride to Peterborough and return.
During the journey, their train staff serve the children with a drink and chocolates. Parents and other adults are not forgotten with a mince pie and either an alcoholic miniature, wine or a hot drink. Santa walks through the train to see the children, providing an opportunity to take photographs and to wish everyone the compliments of the season. They have different coach and food options available.
On selected dates from Saturday November 25th
Peppa Pig World & Santa’s Christmas Wonderland
Christmas is a special time of the year at Paultons, meet Santa in his magical Grotto, experience Peppa Pig World in a festive setting and enjoy selected rides and attractions, including the Lost Kingdom and Critter Creek, across the Park.
Santa’s Grotto is available to book online. There is limited capacity so book early to avoid disappointment. Park entry is included with your booking, rides and attractions open from 10 am.
Join Rudolph on his journey to find Santa in time for Christmas Eve. You will meet many of Rudolph’s animal friends and be greeted by Santa in his magical grotto! Plus all children will receive a gift. Adults will receive a hot punch and a festive treat!
From Saturday 18th November.
Polar Express Train Ride
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at Telford Steam Railway – Do you believe? They do at Telford Steam Railway and that is why they are proud to be hosting an exciting magical experience like no other. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is coming to Telford Steam Railway this December, where families will experience the magic of the 2004 motion picture.
Join them for a family festive fun Christmas experience like no other. Travel to the North Pole whilst listening along to the classic tale, The Polar Express, indulge in tasty treats while you sing along to traditional Christmas Carols and meet Santa as he boards the train to give each child a Silver Sleigh Bell; the first gift of Christmas.
OK, I’m teasing you a little here because all trains at both locations are SOLD OUT. They do however have a cancellation list and hopefully, this will spur you on to make sure you are on their mailing list for next years booking.
You can also experience the magic of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at Mid Norfolk Railway
Santa’s magical journey Thursford Norfolk
Come and visit Father Christmas in the magical setting of Thursford this Christmas. It will be a treat to cherish for everyone who wants to experience this magical fantasy journey and visit Father Christmas in his very special house. Booking is essential!
Your journey takes you past the penguins and polar bears to see all the giant-sized teddy bears ready to load Santa’s sleigh, past the busy elves, hard at work in the toy factory taking in the wonderful wrapping machine.
You’ll meet lots of fantasy characters including the snowman family but watch out for the snowballs before you make your way through the magical forest to reach Santa’s House where you meet the man himself and all his gifts for all the children that visit.
From Wednesday 8th November
Santa spectacular, Willows Hertfordshire
Their Santa Spectacular event is a full day out of festive fun for all the family. The all-inclusive price includes:
- Meeting Santa and receiving a golden key to his Toy Shop where children can choose one of the hundreds of gifts piled from floor to ceiling to take home
- Their create-a-Cuddle workshop runs all day and children can make their own reindeer cuddly toy to take home along with a naming certificate and special gift box
- Attend Elf Academy and learn some of the basics on becoming one of Santa’s elves including how to tiptoe like an Elf and the important letters of the Elf-a-bet.
- Pop your glasses on and take off on a 3D adventure with Santa in our 3D film
- Join in the fun at one of their Christmas shows including Christmas Storytime, our Elf Sing-a-Long and special Nativity performances featuring some of our favourite farmyard animals
- Write a letter to Santa and pop it in our post box to receive a free reply delivered to your home
- Glide around our synthetic ice rink with ski boots available to fit all sizes
- Hop on Tristan the Runaway Tractor for a ride around our festive wood
- Meet Mischka, Santa’s reindeer and all of our other Farmyard animals
From Wednesday 22nd November
Santa’s Winter Wonderland, Snowdome, Tamworth
Santa’s returning to the SnowDome from 17th November with his magical Winter Wonderland in the snow. As well as his reindeer he’ll be bringing all of his friends for some serious festive fun the weather cannot spoil. With all the real snow, real animals and ALL NEW Winter Wonderland show, it’s the ultimate Christmas adventure for all the family!
Play and slide around in real snow as you explore Santa’s Christmas snow trail featuring more slides than ever! Take a walk through the enchanted forest, enjoy a fun game of snowballs, hitch a ride on a sledge and have fun sliding about in the snow tubes. You can also enjoy all the real snow action from the sure footing of the promenade walkway… ideal for grandparents.
Join Santa & his friends as they create the BEST EVER Christmas song EVER! Can you help Mrs Claus, Francine the foxtrotting Fairy, Elvis the Penguin and Santa’s very own Jingle Belles Band deliver the ultimate festive song and spread Christmas cheer throughout the land? The Big Man in red will need to pull out all the stops for this one… fun, frolics and mayhem ensue in the all-new Winter Wonderland stage show. Plus you can meet Santa’s real reindeer. There is no opportunity to meet Santa himself at this Christmas event.
From Friday the 17th November
Sundown Adventureland – Christmas Spectacular
The Xmas Spectacular Ticket includes a pre-booked Santa Visit on the Magical Night Before Christmas Ride & also free access all day to all the other Park’s Rides and Attractions
As the evenings draw in, the market square will come alive with hundreds of twinkling lights and decorations. The shops will be full of goodies, (forget those diets it’s Christmas) stocking fillers, small toys, the full range of cherished teddies, piggin’ pigs and snow babies, as well as a large selection of collectors teddy bears and fabulous collectors dolls, Christmas decorations, Santa’s reindeers and lots, lots more.
On selected dates from Saturday the 18th November
The Chill Factor Santa Grotto, Manchester
This year you and your little ones can revel in the magic that is Santa’s Gingerbread Grotto!
Take one step in and feel the crunch of the real snow below your feet! You’ll be stunned by the magnificent Gingerbread Grotto that is Santa’s home right up until Christmas Eve. Surrounded by real snow sparkling trees, glistening lights and chattering elves. So whether you want to enjoy a family day out or with friends, there’s something extra special about a trip to see Santa at Chill Factore. After all, it’s not JUST a trip to see Santa…
All visits to Santa are combined with playtime on real snow, either in Mini Moose Land (under 4’s) or in their Snow Park, which will really get you and your children into the festive spirit in their very own winter wonderland!
On selected dates from Saturday 11th November.
The Christmas Experience, Lotherton Yorkshire
Steeped in Christmas magic and excitement. Enjoy a magical Twelve Days of Christmas Walk through the Captains Wood around the estate, make the turtle doves fly, walk through the five gold rings and be one of our drummers drumming! Uncover a secret fairy hideaway in our rock garden. Visit Santa in the North Pole and meet our elves helping in their workshop. Marvel in the splendour of the Edwardian House with the rooms dressed in all their festive finery. Wander down to the Elf Village where young ones can join the elves in making craft activities or listen to stories, and everyone can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or warm snack under our twinkling canopy.
From Friday 24th November
The Snowman brought to life
The Snowman will be on for 18 nights this winter across England. You have the opportunity to see the performance in unique locations such as Cathedrals and churches plus halls and ballrooms as well.
Not all performance programs are the same, all do include a 26-minute performance with a live Orchestra playing the Original score of The Snowman. This includes the film showing in the background on a large screen.
Previous to the performance of The Snowman there will be other Orchestral performances. This will include the playing of either The Bear and The piano, Cinderella or The Nutcracker. We will be attending The Snowman at the City Hall in Hull which will include The Bear and The piano. The first half will last around 40 minutes and the second half lasts for 30 minutes. There is a life-size snowman that also makes an appearance.
On selected dates from Friday 1st December.
The Train to Christmas town
New for this year from the team behind the original THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at Dartmoor, Devon and Weardale Durham comes to the Train to Christmas town
Centring around the beloved children’s book The Train to Christmas Town; the train ride recreates the story of Janice and her brother on their annual ride to Christmas Town. On board, passengers will meet a host of interactive characters including the ticket punching train conductor, Bumblebee the polar bear and Wabash the squirrel as well as a troupe of cheeky dancing elves who entertain as they serve up delicious cookies and hot cups of cocoa to all on board.
The 70-minute Christmas spectacle, expertly designed to bring the spirit of Christmas to the whole family, will operate from two UK locations this year – Dartmoor Railway in Okehampton in Devon and Weardale Railway in Co. Durham. The Dartmoor Railway train rides run from the 1st December through to the 28th December and the Weardale Railway train rides run from the 18th November through to the 30th December.
Victorian Christmas at Beaulieu, New Forest
Travel back in time and visit the Victorian Montagu family home. See what the family members would have been doing as they prepare for the festive season of 1889.
Pose next to the colourful life-size Gingerbread House for the perfect festive picture as you arrive at Beaulieu. Then follow the dazzling fairy lit pathway to Palace House to see preparations for a traditional Victorian Christmas in action.
Sip a glass of warming mulled punch while you soak in the festive atmosphere, with stunning decorations, welcoming log fires and a themed Christmas tree in each room – including a 25ft tree in the entrance!
From Saturday 16th December
Waterfront Winterland, Swansea
Museum Park (in the grounds of the National Waterfront Museum) will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland once again. Enjoy ice skating on the Admiral ice rink and children’s rink; visited Santa’s Grotto, and experience the festive family funfair, delicious foods from the Alpine dining cabins and the Big Wheel!
They have a range of rides to suit everyone – from the Sky View and Snow Storm for those that like a bit of an adrenaline rush, to the traditional carousel for those who prefer a more gentle ride.
A 100ft Giant Wheel is also back by popular demand. Sit back and enjoy the views of Swansea Bay by day or night, as well as the festivities below.
From Friday 17th November.
Winter Wonderland, Manchester
Come along with the family this Christmas and experience the UK’s LARGEST indoor Winter Wonderland at EventCity next to The Trafford Centre, Manchester.
There will be rides and attractions galore where the family can have four hours of non-stop fun and entertainment. And here’s the fantastic news…… all rides and attractions are included in one amazing ticket price….so you can entertain the children this Christmas without breaking the bank. Winter Wonderland is operated on a session basis to ensure visitors can enjoy the experience without overcrowding. Tickets to this event are limited and we strongly advise that tickets are booked early to avoid disappointment.
A trip to Winter Wonderland would not be complete without a visit to see Santa. This is a Santa meet and greet only and does not include a gift. The queue to see Santa will close 30 minutes prior to the end of each session.
From Saturday 9th December.
Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland
Home to the North of England’s largest outdoor ice rink – The Ice Factor will boast its biggest rink ever, at an astounding 975 square metres! With its iconic 30ft high Christmas tree, the rink and its surroundings will once again be inspired by the magic of Christmas.
Recently voted York’s Family Friendly Experience, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland will be welcoming new additions to this year’s festivities in the form of an alpine skate hire chalet with rinkside views and a stunning new Polar Express themed Grotto for Santa. With vintage funfair rides dating from as early as 1933, Santa welcoming visitors in his enchanting log cabin, live weekend entertainment.
From Saturday 18th November.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my round up and will find it as useful. Is there anything we are missing? Please comment below. Don’t forget to read my other Christmas round-up post – 30 Best Christmas Events East Midlands 2017 – Meet Santa and More and 5 Bucket List Family Winter Cruise Destinations to Embark on This Year.
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