Cool Things To Do with the Kids this Christmas

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Yuletide fun for all the family

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We all love Christmas, but it’s a particularly magical time for little ones. Make this year their most special festive season yet by heading to one of the many events, experiences and pop-ups taking place across the UK. From Santa’s Grottos to ice-skating, pantomimes to steam trains and winter light festivals, here’s our family-friendly Christmas activities guide.

Family-Friendly Christmas Activities in the UK For 2022

Santa Steam Express 

Father Christmas and his elves on the Santa's Steam Dreams experience

Hop aboard the Santa Steam Express for a magical steam train journey around London – complete with an appearance from Father Christmas himself. Upon arrival, little ones will be greeted by Santa and his merry helpers, before being given a festive sweet treat; then during the trip Father Christmas will pass through the 1970s-inspired carriages, presenting the children with gifts. Adults, meanwhile, can sit back and relax with a mince pie and a warm drink while soaking up views of the capital. 

Price: £55 per adult, £40 per child for First Class tickets

Date: 14, 16, 19 and 21 December 2022

Location: Departs from London Victoria

BOOK: steamdreams.co.uk

Hamleys x The Ritz

Could this be the ultimate Santa’s Grotto experience? Hamleys has joined forces with The Ritz on a special partnership, taking place in the hotel’s Royal Suite this December. To begin, guests will be greeted by one of Hamleys’ elves, before being escorted to the suite, which has been transformed into a winter wonderland. Here, children can sip on hot chocolate, check if their name is on the Nice List, chat to the elves and play games, ahead of meeting Father Christmas. They’ll also leave with a personalised gift. 

Price: £250 for a maximum of six people

Date: 3 and 4 December 2022

Location: The Ritz, London

BOOK: hamleys.com

Ice-skating at Beaverbrook

Beaverbrook with a small ice rink in front of the hotel

Surrey hotel Beaverbrook always makes a lovely staycation, but it’s particularly special come Christmas time. Once again, an ice rink will be popping up there, alongside stalls offering hot chocolate and sweets (and fizz for adults). Afterwards, head for an evening meal at The Garden House restaurant, which is serving up seasonal dishes throughout December.

Price: Various packages available, skating included for hotel guests

Date: 1 December 2022 – 31 January 2023

Location: Beaverbrook, Surrey

BOOK: beaverbrook.co.uk

Elf the Musical

While Will Ferrell sadly doesn’t feature in the stage version of hit Christmas film Elf, it’s still well worth a watch. Coming to London for an eight-week season this November, the musical stars Simon Lipkin as the loveable Buddy, who is raised by Santa’s elves in the North Pole, and one day embarks on a trip to New York City to find his father. A feel-good favourite that all the family will love.

Price: Tickets from £24

Date: 14 November 2022 – 7 January 2023

Location: Dominion Theatre, London

BOOK: elflondon.com

Thursford Christmas Spectacular

People performing in the Thursford Christmas Spectacular

The all-singing, all-dancing Thursford Christmas Spectacular returns to Norfolk for its 45th anniversary, featuring an eclectic mix of Christmas songs, carols and year-round favourites. A cast of 120 dancers, singers, musicians and special acts will take part, with comedian Kev Orkian hosting. Expect vibrant costumes, circus acts, and big hits like ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ from Hairspray, and ‘Flash Bang Wallop’ from Half a Sixpence.

Price: Tickets from £41

Date: 8 November – 23 December 2022

Location: Thursford, Norfolk

BOOK: thursford.com

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew

(c) Jeff Eden

Now a firm favourite on the family-friendly Christmas calendar, Kew Gardens’ winter light festival is back and brighter than ever. The trail begins, as is tradition, with a glittering archway: the gateway to your festive voyage. Highlights of the trail include dancing waterside reflections, trees drenched in colour and tunnels of light – plus an appearance from Father Christmas. Little ones will love the mesmerising Palm House Pond finale, where Kew’s famous glasshouse springs to life with criss-crossing laser beams, jumping jets of light and kaleidoscopic projections playing across a giant water screen. 

Price: From £21.50 for adults, £14 for children

Date: 16 November 2022 – 8 January 2023

Location: Kew Gardens, London

BOOK: kew.org 

Christmas at Raby Castle

Children doing a Christmas trail at Raby Castle

There are a whole host of festive happenings coming to Raby Castle in Durham this season. A new themed trail is launching in the venue’s woodland hideaway playground, where visitors can find hidden Christmas clues to earn treats. Raby’s Deer Park, meanwhile, is hosting a 12 Days of Christmas trail, plus the castle will be hosting a special Christmas market on 3 and 4 December – with the chance to buy a tree grown on the estate’s plantation. 

Price: Tickets to Raby’s Deer Park cost £5.50 for an adult and £3.50 for a child; tickets for the daytime trail at The Plotters’ Forest cost £6.50 for an adult and £7.50 for a child at selected times between 10am and 2pm

Date: Selected dates from 26 November – 24 December 2022 

Location: Raby Castle, Durham

BOOK: raby.co.uk

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

It’s pretty much impossible for children to get bored at Winter Wonderland, a gigantic Christmas extravaganza which takes over Hyde Park each year. There’s a huge ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, fairground rides, a German Bavarian village, a circus, food stalls and more – all set to the sound of festive music. A failsafe family-friendly Christmas day out.

Price: Tickets from £5

Date: 18 November 2022 – 2 January 2023

Location: Hyde Park, London

BOOK: hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

Little Red Robin Hood

People acting in the Little Red Robin Hood play at Battersea Arts Centre

Piers Allardyce

The team behind Battersea Arts Centre’s annual panto mashups, The Sleeping Trees, is back with another show. Little Red Robin Hood is a fun twist on the classic fairytale, which sees Red Riding Hood coming to the rescue to defeat the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, find her grandma and discover her destiny. Featuring live music and a brand-new cast, it’s set to be another great festive treat for all the family, with lots of fun surprises. It also operates on a pay what you can scheme.

Price: Pay what you can

Date: 6 December 2022 – 8 January 2023

Location: Battersea Arts Centre, London

BOOK: bac.org.uk

Festive Sundays in Manchester

Street performer in Manchester

Every Sunday from now until Christmas, Manchester city centre will bring all the festive vibes with street performances and live music, with roaming puppets, supersized penguins, light-up bands and more taking over the city’s main shopping streets. The final two Sundays will be extra special, with Nutcracker-themed sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers and a fairy mouse there to welcome families. A great one to visit if you’re a Manchester local, or if you’re visiting the city for a festive break this Christmas. 

Price: Free

Date: Every Sunday until Christmas

Location: Manchester City Centre

BOOK: visitmanchester.com

The North Norfolk Pole

There’s another chance to meet Father Christmas, this one at Norfolk’s Pensthorpe. The park is hosting an event called the North Norfolk Pole, where children can meet Santa in the Fakenham nature reserve’s magical courtyard experience. They’ll receive a nature-themed gift and have the chance to reveal their Christmas wishes amid a magical setting filled with twinkling lights and festive music.

Price: £7.95 for all children, which includes admission for one adult, a separate ticket applies to enter the reserve

Date: 17 – 23 December 2022

Location: Pensthorpe, Norfolk

BOOK: pensthorpe.com

Featured image: Getty Images