Ten Christmas days out for families that break the pudding-shaped mould

Christmas is a time for making special memories with your family. And while trips to Santa’s grotto and seeing the town lights switched on can be lovely, blogger (and mum of two) Claire from Tin Box Traveller gives us some alternative recommendations for magical family days out.

Christmas Trail at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Worcestershire

There’s nothing quite as magical as illuminations at Christmas and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are coming alight for the first time this year. A twinkling trail is being set through the Victorian landscape incorporating scenes from The Twelve Days of Christmas, a tunnel of lights and a ‘singing’ tree. This sounds like a real after-dark treat that will have young eyes dancing with 60,000 jewel coloured lights. Bring your wooly hats, a torch and let the kids lead your adventure through this illuminated wonderland.

The Christmas Trail is open from 29 November 2017 to 1 January 2018. For more information and ticket prices visit: birminghamchristmasgarden.co.uk.


Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm, Hertfordshire

A day out at a farm is always a hit with our girls. Combine meeting animals with Christmas fun and you have toddler heaven. Willows Activity Farm has so much going on for younger children this winter and it’s all included in the entry price. Kids can meet Santa, make their own cuddly reindeer, sing-a-long to a nativity play featuring real farmyard animals and join the Elf Academy to learn how to be one of Old St Nick’s helpers.

The Santa Spectacular at Willows Activity Farm takes place between 22 November and 24 December 2017. For more information and to book advance tickets visit: willowsactivityfarm.co.uk


Dreamland Frosted Fairground, Kent

Lovers of traditional fairground rides will be all of a flurry to experience Great Britain’s oldest surviving amusement park decked out for Christmas. Entry to Dreamland is free, while paid experiences include 450 metre square ice rink, Santa’s grotto, live music and seasonal food and drink. Fans of The Snowman and The Snowdog will also be able to see them at the park on 21 December.

The amusement park will be open weekends throughout December until 16 December 2017 when it will be open every day until 3 January 2018. For more information visit dreamland.co.uk/events.


Christmas at Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

What budding princess or knight doesn’t enjoy visiting a castle? I have to admit I count myself as a princess wannabe. Warwick Castle has to be one of the best castle days out in the country and with 1,100 years of history on its CV it’s not hard to understand why. This Christmas there will be a 20 foot tree in the Great Hall, storytelling with Santa and a winter wedding mystery for young visitors to solve. And if you fancy turning your day out into a pre-Christmas mini-break you can have a Santa Sleepover in the Knight’s Village lodges just outside the castle.

Events begin on 25 November and the castle is open daily. For more information about Christmas events at Warwick Castle go to: warwick-castle.com.


Greenwich Wintertime Festival, London

The historic Royal Naval College at Greenwich is being given a festive makeover this December with an artisan market, street performers and an ice rink, plus a special screening of the Snowman accompanied by East London Brass. We love visiting Greenwich and think seeing it decked out for Christmas would make a fantastic family day out.

Greenwich Winter Time Festival runs from 1 to 31 December 2017. For tickets and more information visit: greenwichwintertime.com.


Ice Adventure on George Street, Edinburgh

Wrap up warm and visit an ice museum in Edinburgh. The Ice Adventure will be packed full of carvings and snow sculptures depicting Scottish icons like Robert the Bruce, thistles, and even Dolly the Sheep! The temperature inside this immersive journey through Scotland’s personalities, traditions and culture will be maintained at -10 C, so thermals are a must for soft southerners like me! The Ice Adventure is part of a brimming programme of festive fun around George Street including market stalls, funfair rides and a huge advent calendar projected on the side of General Register House.

The Ice Adventure is open from 17 November to 24 December 2017. For prices and full details of Edinburgh’s Christmas events go to: edinburghschristmas.com


‘Let it Snow’ ice skating at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

Disney’s Frozen may be four-years-old this Christmas but it’s still a firm favourite with our kids. Celtic Manor is embracing everything Elsa and Anna with family ice-skating with a ‘Let it go’ theme. Children and adults are invited to dress up as their favourite Frozen or Disney characters and take a spin around the outdoor rink during the resort’s ‘Let it Snow’ evenings. As well as skating you can indulge in festive food and drink, Christmas afternoon teas and visit Santa in his Christmas Kingdom.

Celtic Manor’s ice rink is open 24 November 2017 to 1 January 2018. For prices and more information visit: celtic-manor.com


Winter Wood with Rogue Theatre, Cornwall

For a woodland adventure filled with tall tales and magical characters a trip to Tehidy Woods North Cliffs near Redruth is a must. Deep in this Cornish forest the Rogue Theatre brings to life fairies and woodland spirits to guide you to Old Man Winter who will enchant young and old with seasonal stories. There’s also hot chocolate, face painting and crafts to make this the perfect Christmas performance for families.

Performances take place between 9 and 30 December 2017. For more information visit: roguetheatre.co.uk


Thursford Christmas Spectacular, Norfolk

All the glitz and glamour of the West End shifts to the small village of Thursford in the run up to Christmas. Families with children and teens who love a fast-paced variety show with plenty of yule-tide pizzaz are treated to a three-hour-long performance by a cast of 130 musicians, dancers and singers. It’s a spectacle not to be missed with lots happening on the side including an opportunity to meet Santa in his own winter wonderland and receive a present.

Thursford Christmas Spectacular runs from 8 November to 23 December 2017. For more information and to book tickets visit: thursford.com.


A Victorian Christmas at Harewood House, Yorkshire

Fans of the ITV series ‘Victoria’ will want to put a visit to Harwood House high on their Christmas wish list. The historic house, where filming took place, is opening during the festive season for the first time in five years. It will be dressed with period decorations and showcase Victorian toys on loan from Ilkley Toy Museum. Visitors will also be able to see 19th Century festive fare being prepared in the kitchens and meet Father Christmas by the fireside. Just don’t tell the kids it’s an educational day out!

Harewood House will be open for its Victorian Christmas between 24 November and 31 December. For more information visit: harewood.org.