Best Christmas events and family days out with the kids for 2018

Christmas makes for the perfect opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, but we’re not just talking the big day itself.

The festive season is jam-packed with fun activities the whole family will enjoy from Christmas-themed trails, Santa’s Grotto visits, brilliant ice rinks, , Christmas markets across the UK to explore, and hilarious pantomimes and shows to watch , not to mention the host of festive events and winter festivals on offer.

The best part is most of these are still open for that ‘in between’ period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, when parents have to come up with more ways to keep the kids entertained following all of the excitement.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve rounded up the best family days out you won’t want to miss for Christmas 2018.

Check out our top picks below…

What’s in our guide?

  • Santa’s Grotto highlights
  • The best Christmas trails and days out
  • The best of UK theme park Christmas events

Santa’s Grotto highlights

1. The National Trust

A host of National Trust properties across the UK will be getting a visit from Santa for some very special storytelling sessions.

Ancient castles, Tudor houses and woodland hideaways will serve as his grottos where he’ll set up shop to read kids some festive tales – and kids will get a chance to tell him what they want for Christmas of course.

You can see the full list of properties expecting a visit from Santa , but highlights include:

  • Aberdulais in Neath Port Talbot: 14th and 21st December, 5.30pm-7pm. Includes a candlelit walk and Victorian Christmas theme. Normal admission applies.
  • Beningbrough Hall in North Yorkshire: 1st-23rd December, 11am-3.30pm. Includes storytelling session with Santa. £9 per child, including gift. Each ticket includes one free adult place.
  • Castle Ward in County Down: 12th-16th and 19th-21st December, 6-8pm. Includes tasty festive treats, storytelling session and a gift from Santa. Child tickets £16, adult tickets £8.
  • Saltram in Devon: 13th-17th and 20th-23rd December, 3pm-3.45-pm. Storytelling session including a special keepsake for children. Child tickets £8 including gift, adult tickets £4.

Booking is essential – and most places are already selling out. For more information visit the National Trust website .

2. Boringdon Hall Polar Express themed Santa’s Grotto

On Sunday 17th December, this stunning Elizabethan Manor will be offering up some luxurious festivities, themed around iconic film The Snowman.

Arrive at the breathtaking grounds and enjoy a dazzling dance performance before going in to indulge with a Festive Afternoon tea (includes activities like gingerbread decorating!).

Then head off to meet Santa in his grotto – and anyone on his ‘nice’ list will be treated to a gift!

The grotto runs at 12.30pm or 4pm on Sunday 16th December- book your place here .

Child tickets £19.95, adult tickets £29.95. For more information visit the Boringdon Hall website.

3. North Yorkshire Moors Railway Santa Special

Fancy something a bit different to a traditional trip to Santa’s Grotto? Then this could make for a memorable family day out!

Departing from Pickering and Grosmont stations, this event gives children the chance to meet Santa in his festive grotto – on board the train!

They will also receive treats including a Christmas Activity Bag and a gift from Father Christmas himself, while adults can also indulge with a mince pie, hot drink and an alcoholic tipple.

Oh and if you are going from Pickering, there’s also a chance to meet the ‘real life’ reindeers!

Tickets are £22 (including an activity bag for kids), and the train will run on selected dates until 23rd December. Click here for the full details .

4. Wyevale Garden Centres

This year Wyevale Garden Centres are hosting plenty of festive activities, including meeting Santa in his Grotto.

Children will begiven the opportunity to plant a magic bean, be gifted a mini tree to decorate, receive a wrapped present and take away a certificate to say they’ve officially met Santa.

There are also centres hosting breakfast and tea dining experiences with Santa himself, where kids receive a present, hearty feast and can even decorate their own Christmas biscuits!

Prices for festive lunches start from £14.95 per person – you can find your nearest centre on the Wyevale Garden Centres website.

The best Christmas trails and days out

1. Longleat

Already a firm favourite with families looking for an enchanting Christmas day out, Longleat is back – and this year it’s got an adventurous theme.

Join explorers Harry and Bea on A Fantastic Voyage which will take you through time and space from the xotic to glacial, where you’ll meet  astonishing creatures, see magnificent scenery, stunning structures and sensational modes of transportation.

Daily until the 6th January.

Adult tickets from £31.45, child tickets from £23.55 when bought on the Longleat website (this includes a 10 per cent discount).

2. Lost Gardens of Heligan

Heligan by Night in 2017
(Image: © Ulf Pedersen 2017)

This festive season, the Lost Gardens of Heligan have been transformed by light artist Ulf Pedersen into what feels like an enchanted forest.

Discover thought-provoking illuminations, unique sound installations, and a dazzling nocturnal immersive experience.

The event will be running from the 12th December through to 5th January. Visit the Heligan website for more information and to book tickets.

3. Hogwarts in the Snow

The Great Hall has had a makeover
(Image: Publicity Picture)

Harry Potter fans should head to Warner Bros. Studio London, which has undergone a very festive makeover just in time for Christmas.

Expect snow-covered Hogwarts, a giant feast in the Great Hall and, of course, all the Yuletide props and sets from the films. Take a sneak peek of what you can expect here .

Hogwarts in the Snow will run from Saturday 17th November – Sunday 27th January 2019.

Adult tickets £47, child tickets £35 and can be bought on the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.

4. Watch a festive film at The Luna Cinema

Will Ferrell is the star of the show in the non-stop comedy Elf
(Image: Warner Bros)

Grab a blanket, a bucket of popcorn and settle down for screenings of some of your favourite Christmas films including Elf, Home Alone, Love Actually and It’s A Wonderful Life.

The Luna Winter Cinema will run from 17th-23 December in three stunning indoor, heated venues including the stunning Pavilion of Kensington Palace in West London, the former Art Deco cinema, now reimagined as EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney) in East London and the beautiful St. George’s Hall in Liverpool.

For something special, opt for a VIP ticket which includes a luxury sofa for two, butler service and a complimentary drink!

Prices start from £8.50 per person. To book tickets and see the full listings visit the Luna Cinema website.

5. Holkham Hall’s candlelit tours

Explore the beautiful state rooms at Holkham Hall which will be covered in opulent decorations to look like something out of a story book.

Take one of the guided candlelit tours to learn all about the history of the rooms and decorations, as well as exploring the Statue Gallery where there will be a full-size parterre garden, inspired by Italian gardens of the 18th century – and it looks like a magical winter garden.

Candlelight tours last 45 minutes £20 per adult, £12 per child (2-16 years), complimentary parking. Visit the Holkham Hall website for more information.

6. Haddon Hall’s fairytale themed trail

Fairytales are coming to life in Haddon Hall
(Image: Haddon Hall)

The 900-year-old stately home will be bringing your favourite fairytales to life, transforming each of its grandiose rooms into scenes from classics including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and more.

Local community choirs will be performing every day in the Banqueting Hall, and there will also be daily storytelling sessions in the Parlour.

Want more? The Winter Artisan Market is returning with everything from candles and soaps to fine art and food.

Open until the 23rd December daily,  10.30am-4pm. Adult prices from £15.75, children aged under 15 go FREE. (Car parking is £3 per car). You can find out more on the Haddon Hall website.

7. Enchanted Weston

Weston Park is getting a festive makeover in the evenings thanks to the illuminated trail along the woodland pathways that’s sure to be a hit with the whole family.

After the trail, head to Festive Fizz & Eats, a pop-up winter festival in the Stables Courtyard where you’ll find street food, hot cocktails, comfy seating and fire pits, as well as craft stalls for picking up last-minute Christmas gifts.

Enchanted Weston takes place from 14 to 22 December from 5pm to 9pm. Tickets are £7 per person and need to be booked in advance via

8. Christmas in Leicester Square

If you’re visiting the capital, make sure to stop off at the ‘Christmas in Leicester Square’, a pop-up including a Christmas Market, Santa’s Grotto, and a Belgian Spiegeltent that’s playing home to a host of comedy, cabaret and burlesque shows.

For more information visit .

9. Meet huskies and reindeer in Brighton

Animal lovers can meet Santa’s reindeer and a pack of arctic huskies at Drusillas Park in Brighton.

Then, wander through the park taking in the beautiful Winter Wonderland Illuminations, or visit the nearby Brighton Christmas market for extra festive cheer.

For more information, visit

The best of UK theme park Christmas events

1. Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is launching a Nicktoons Christmas Grotto and Ice Skating, where beloved characters including Spongebob SquarePants and the Ninja Turtles will be on hand to join you in the festive fun.

Santa will also be paying the grotto a visit, and gifting good boys and girls a Blackpool Pleasure Beach Diamond Pass for the 2018 season and a special Nickelodeon gift.

Tickets include access to the Grotto, a visit to see Santa, a special Nickelodeon gift for all children aged 11 and under, ice skating, skate hire and a choice of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

Visits to the Grotto can be booked online in advance for just £15.99 at or you can pay £17.99 on arrival at Blackpool Pleasure Beach Arena.

The Nicktoons Grotto is open from 10.30am until 4pm every weekend until the 16th December. From the 19th December onwards it will be open daily until Christmas Eve.

2. Alton Towers

Alton Towers is transforming into a winter wonderland – and kids will have the chance to meet Father Christmas himself thanks to their Santa Sleepovers packages.

Think fairytale grottos, charismatic elves, a roaring fireplace and plenty of treats from hot chocolate for kids to mulled wine for grown-ups. Not to mention a host of feasts – including a morning breakfast prepared by Mrs Claus!

There’s even a fun-packed pantomime of Alice in Wonderland, as well as a traditional Christmas dinner and breakfast.

Santa Sleepovers will take place on select dates throughout December.

Prices start from £265 based on a family of four sharing and include Christmas dinner, bed and Breakfast; Meet and greet with Father Christmas, 1 day access to the water park, pantomime and selected rides.

Find out more on the Alton Towers website.

3. Legoland Windsor Resort

Legoland Windsor Resort
(Image: Legoland Windsor Resort)

There’s plenty of fun to be had at Legoland this Christmas season.

From the 15th-23rd December, Father Christmas will be on hand to meet children and hear their present requests, while over 30 rides and attractions will be open alongside a host of themed activities.

Guests can jump aboard the Brickmas Express to discover an enchanted Christmas land, before meeting Father Christmas in his magical grotto and receiving a LEGO Christmas gift.

Miniland will get a festive makeover, elves will be on the look out for little helpers to build LEGO candy canes and decorations, there will be a themed scavenger hunt and you can head to Mrs. Christmas’ Toy Shop where they can build their very own LEGO Christmas decoration to take home

There will also be a secret shopping service – parents just need to say the word ‘Rudolph’ and staff will jump into action to help mums and dads keep surprise LEGO purchases hidden from the kids by keeping little ones distracted with a host of activities.

Tickets are £36 per person or £26 per person for Annual Passholders and can be pre-booked online in advance only. Find out more on the Legoland website.

4. Paulton’s Park

Home of Peppa Pig World and the Lost Kingdom, Paulton’s Park is offering up a host of exciting seasonal activities for Christmas.

Kids can Santa’s Grotto and join a reindeer on his journey to find Santa in time for Christmas Eve and return with a gift – and parents can enjoy a complimentary hot punch and festive treat.

Included in the cost of a ticket is the chance to enjoy the delights of a daily, family festive show where visitors can meet Frosty, Rudolph and two cheeky elves, Billy and Belinda.

Other seasonal attractions include a giant musical Christmas tree which will stand in the Entrance Plaza and perform a festive song and light show throughout the day, as well as Show Street’s transformation into ‘Snow Street’.

Christmas at Paultons will be taking place on selected days until Friday 23rd December. Tickets start from £29.50 and include entry to Santa’s Grotto and Peppa Pig World, as well a gift for the children.

All visits must be pre-booked and certain rides will not be open. Find out more on the Paulton’s Park website.

Source: Read Full Article