Visit a winter wonderland, have a go at ice-skating or try something a little different. We’ve selected our favourite festive days out around the UK
The Natural History Museum makes for a magical, almost Hogwarts-esque, setting for an ice rink – and would make an ideal day out. With penguin aids for little ones and skate hire included in the fee, there’s fun to be had for all the family. Combine your trip with a visit to the museum (entry is free) and make a whole day of it. Dates: 2 Nov – 6 Jan.
With more than 40 wooden chalet stalls selling seasonal sorts from gifts and crafts to food and drink, it’s the perfect place for kids to pick up a present for Grandma. Leeds Millennium Square hosts the traditional German market – also known as Christkindelmarkt – and each stall is manned by authentic German traders for a unique continental atmosphere. Dates: 9 Nov – 16 Dec.
For something a little different, take the family down to Brighton and join in with the annual Burning of the Clocks parade. The event welcomes everyone to celebrate the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year – with many visitors taking to the streets with handmade lanterns decorated with wishes, hopes and fears, before throwing them into a fire. The event culminates in a spectacular firework show on the beach. Date: 21 Dec.
Treat the kids to the next best thing to Lapland – and you won’t have to leave the country! It’s the one place that’s guaranteed snow this year and will enchant the kids all day long. As well as playing and sledging in the white stuff, kids can meet and greet Santa Clause, and visit his reindeer and other furry friends in the animal village. Dates: 23 Nov – 31 Dec
Layer up the family in their finest winter warmers and head out to Bristol Zoo for a late night Christmas treat. Kids will enjoy some traditional storytelling around a cosy fire and petting Jingle and Belle the resident reindeers before visiting Father Christmas in his grotto. And afterwards, why not join in the festive cheer with some carol singing and keep warm with the tasty food and hot drinks on offer? Dates: 19, 20, 21 Dec.
All aboard! Take the little ones to meet and greet their favourite locomotive, Thomas the Tank Engine. The Fat Controller will be on supervision duty and kids can jump aboard the train and other rides before visiting Father Christmas in his grotto. Under a blanket of snow for added festive effect, the whole family will enjoy this day out. Dates: 1-23 Dec, weekends only.
For a birds-eye-view of the Welsh city, have a go on the giant ferris wheel and join in the festivities at the funfair. There’s a carousel for the little ones plus lots of other attractions suitable for all the family. There are two ice rinks – one for adults and one for children – and plenty of opportunity to sit back and relax with a cup of hot chocolate. Dates: 16 Nov – 6 Jan.
It’s behind you! For plenty of belly laughs, fabulous theatrical song and dance routines and lots of glittering costumes, take the kids to the Panto. Though the shows don’t usually have a direct reference to Christmas, there’s something hugely celebratory and magical about them – and often star a local celeb. Panto performances are available at venues up and down the country, so book your tickets soon.
Kick-start your New Year resolutions with a scenic walk through the British countryside. Led by Rambler volunteers, the walks are designed to showcase Britain at it’s wintry best. They’re fun, free and open to anyone from toddlers to grandparents. Whatever your age or walking ability, there’s a route to suit, so grab your hiking boots, throw on your cosy knits and head outdoors.
Journey back in time with this firm favourite show that encapsulates the essence of Christmas. It’s probably one for the older kids in your family, but nevertheless will provide an evening of enchanting entertainment. This ballet – amongst others such as Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake – is performed at various venues across the UK, so grab your tickets while you can.