WHEN it comes to family fun this Christmas there is no shortage of great events across the UK.
Markets, light shows, skating rinks, caves, pantos and even singing trees have taken over theme parks, historic homes, town centers and seaside resorts.
Trisha Harbord delivers the best party treats.
ONE of the largest ice rinks – for 250 skaters – is in the gardens of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
There are penguin stabilizers for the youngsters, mulled wine and hot chocolate for the adults. Open until January 9, tickets start at £ 10. See royalpavilionicerink.co.uk.
An ice skating rink is included in the Eden Project Christmas Experience with 40 minute sessions costing £ 8 per adult and £ 7 per child. The Cornish World Garden has transformed one of its tropical biomes into a winter wonderland, complete with a big band orchestra and light shows. Dates chosen until December 24. Ice rink open until February. See edenproject.com.
It’s only £ 5 for an hour of ice skating at Coventry Glides amid the cathedral ruins. Open daily until January 9. See coventry2021.co.uk.
Party food and drinks are offered at Edinburgh’s Lidl on Ice on George Street. Open until January 2, tickets start at £ 6. See edimbourgschristmas.com.
STEP through the wardrobe in the mystical land of Narnia at Castle Howard in North Yorks.
Dozens of trees include a 28-foot spruce tree decorated with 2,000 sparkling icicles and snowflakes, under the dome of the Great Hall. Open until January 2. Adult from £ 19.50, child £ 12.50. See Castlehoward.co.uk.
Experience a Victorian Christmas as costumed servants prepare for the celebration at Palace House in Beaulieu, Hampshire.
The elaborate rooms are adorned with decorations including a 20 foot tree. Enjoy Christmas carols, tarts and hot chocolate, and look for Santa at the wheel of one of Beaulieu’s vintage cars. From December 18 to January 2, closed on Christmas Day. Adults from £ 23, children £ 12, children under five free. See beaulieu.co.uk.
Over 100 National Trust homes have a Percy The Park Keeper Winter Trail, inspired by beloved characters by author Nick Butterworth. See nationaltrust.org.uk/Christmas.
HOLLY GOOD SHOWS
CIRCUS artists, acrobats, acrobatics and daring stunts will captivate families at Great Yarmouth Racecourse.
Its Christmas Show, from December 11 to January 9, also includes an aquatic show featuring synchronized swimmers and giant fountains. Adults from £ 22, children from £ 13, see hippodromecircus.co.uk.
For an end-of-pier Christmas variety show of comedy, dance and magic, head to Cromer in Norfolk. Until December 30, adults £ 26, children £ 10, see cromerpier.co.uk.
Don’t be a Scrooge, check out actor Mark Gatiss – who starred in Doctor Who and The League Of Gentlemen – in the cast of A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story at Alexandra Palace in London. Until 9 January tickets start at £ 16. The palace also has a cave, an ice rink and a café serving mulled wine and tarts. See alexandrapalace.com.
All the colors of the rainbow light up Fountains Abbey, North Yorks, during Music And Lights on selected dates through January 2. Stroll under the vaulted ceilings to hear live bands and choirs. Entrance to the Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden costs £ 17 for adults, £ 8.50 for children. See nationaltrust.org.uk.
BANK ON FATHER NOL
FATHER NOL is now using his own money and has settled into The Royal Mint Experience.
The Coin House in Llantrisant, South Wales has turned into a magical workshop with a 16ft tree, 6ft nutcracker and hundreds of balls and lights.
The experiment is inspired by the traditional practice of putting six pence in Christmas stockings and puddings.
Families can create their own 50p with The Snowman before exploring the Mint’s 1,100 year history. Open until December 24, tickets £ 15. See royalmint.com.
Snow is falling at Blackpool Pleasure Beach Cave. After meeting the big man and his elves, the children receive a gift, a hot drink and set off on Alice’s tour in Wonderland. Open until December 24th. Child £ 15.99 with two adults admitted free. See blackpoolpleasurebeach.com.
Shrek participated in the act of Santa Claus at Shrek’s Adventure! on the South Bank of London. Guests visiting on selected dates through December 24 can venture into the cave, pose for photos, and get a treat. Adult from £ 24, child £ 19.20. See shreksadventure.com.
The UK’s largest singing Christmas tree is a highlight of Longleat Safari Park.
Every 20 minutes, the 65-foot tree, decorated with 80,000 lights, begins to sing when the snow falls. There’s also a 165-foot tunnel of light, 100 decorated trees, owl displays, and a Santa Claus train. Selected dates at Wiltshire Park until January 3. Adult from £ 36.95, child £ 27.70, free for children under three. See longleat.co.uk.
Peppa Pig has a giant musical tree at her home, Paulton’s Park in Hampshire, which has been transformed into a wonderland with a Snow Princess and a Christmas greeting show. Selected dates until December 23. Tickets £ 33.50. Children under 3 feet free. See paultonspark.co.uk.
Winter’s Tail – with light sculptures of animals, a panto, a market, Santa’s cave, carol singers and reindeer – returns to Chessington World Of Adventures in Surrey. Selected dates until January 3. Tickets from £ 20. See chessington.com.
Join Santa’s elves in their workshop and stroll through an enchanted forest of Christmas trees before savoring treats at the Chocolate Factory at Camel Creek Adventure Park in Cornwall. Tickets £ 15.95. See camelcreek.co.uk.
BEAUTIFUL AT SLEEP
There are still Christmas cabins to rent for all sizes of families. The four-person Garth Cottage, set on 50 acres on the edge of the Eden Valley at Tottergill Farm in Cumbria, features a fireplace, hot tub and fabulous views. A week from 22 December costs £ 1,380. See premiercottage.co.uk.
Away Resorts has some great Christmas deals including a stopover at Mill Rythe on Hayling Island, Hants.
There are themed activities for children, entertainment, festive meals, an indoor pool and a new lounge bar.
Three nights of self-catering accommodation in a Burst of Blue lakeside cabin with hot tub, for seven people, starting December 24, costs from £ 377. See awayresorts.co.uk. Or relax in the cozy Lyme Grass chalet in the village of Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast.
There is a lot of festive fun to be had at the neighboring castle, which has been turned into a winter wonderland for December, including reindeer-feeding sessions for the little ones.
Seven-night self-catering accommodation in the four-person house costs from £ 713 in December.
SHOP until you drop, surrounded by a million twinkling lights and rocked by festive music at Blenheim Palace.
The Oxfordshire stately home serves as the backdrop to the wooden chalets at the Christmas market, as well as food, drink and crafts.
There is also an incredible light path, and the palace’s ceremonial rooms have been transformed into Nutcracker scenes. Combination tickets from £ 30. The market is free, £ 10 parking. See blenheimpalace.com.
The new Made In East Yorkshire Christmas Market is held in Beverley from December 13-17, featuring the region’s best food, drinks, crafts and gifts. There is also a Victorian market on Saturdays with fairground rides and marching bands. See beverleyfestivalofchristmas.co.uk.
Manchester Christmas Markets, with a huge range of international food and produce, occupy six squares in the city until December 22. You can’t miss the 40-foot Santa Claus in St. Peter’s Square.
The town also has a new family attraction, featuring light sculptures, in Piccadilly Gardens through January 3. See visitmanchester.com.
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