Best places/events youve taken kids in the build up to Christmas(27 Posts)
Christmas is my favourite time of the year....
I figure the magic of Christmas that comes with having a small child wont last forever and I need to make the most of every year he believes. Anyway, this year were thinking of doing the Santa sleepover at alton towers and lapland uk, ive got quite a but of time off before Christmas and would like to fill it with festive fun, where is the best place you havd taken your little ones?
Lilicat, that sounds like an absolutely FABULOUS Father Christmas, and so great that your DS was able to participate in what is seen as such a normal Christmas ritual in a way that suited him. (DD refused point blank to go anywhere near Santa for years - and is still wary of most versions.)
Two things that we will be repeating this year is The Fairyland Trust fair, in Norwich not sure if they are held anywhere else, and the candlelit Christingle service at the cathedral.
Aww Lilicat your Father Christmas does sound lovely.
My dad used to be FC at Church. If ever a man wasn't built like FC (he needed a load of padding)
Lillicat, I love your Father Christmas!! That's made me all teary!
Disneyland Paris is brilliant for the Christmas season and the Christmas horse show at Olympia .
The free Father Christmas at the library has been the best ever for us, he spent talking ages with my son who was surprisingly relaxed with him. He wasn't phased when William didn't answer his questions or make eye contact (William is autistic)
When my son look an interest in the Christmas lights strung up round the grotto, Father Christmas unhooked them and lifted them down so my son was able to have a closer look. Father Christmas used Makaton signing to communicate with William after seeing me do it.
I have a suspicion that library Father Christmas is the nice man who puts the chairs away after the story time and rhyme time group. He always sweet to the children and chats with my son who keeps trying to steal the trolley used for the chairs
That would explain why William was so keen on him when he usually either ignores or avoids new people.
I hope he is doing it again this year.
We went to Longleat and that was amazing. You go on a little train to see Father Christmas and then after you can go round the zoo.
DD likes to go see the "Live Crib" outside the Lord Mayor's House, which is followed by a little bit of shopping (mainly wandering to look) and ending with a hot chocolate and a bun in a nice coffee shop looking out at the shoppers. (I don't do any of my shopping that day, and try to have most of hers done too beforehand so we don't need to get much or carry much).
We went to Green Santa in Belvedere House last year, a huge hit. You go through the wardrobe door into the snow forest in Narnia, where there are trees and a few animals, before the Elf calls you in to meet Green Santa (in his green robes). Child plants a tree with Santa, visits with his pet hibernating hedgehog, talk a bit about nature and minding it, and he sends you on your way with your tree, a tub of wildflower seeds and you choose a candy cane off his tree. (You can take photos if you want but not photographer there).
We also love the Santa Train, a steam train from Dublin to Maynooth with Santa on board visiting the whole length of the train. There's also a wandering group of carol-singers with a guitarist. Each child gets a selection box, adults can get a mince pie and coffee/mulled wine from dining car. And plenty of train memorabilia (including lots of Thomas) from the on board shop. I know it runs from Belfast as well. (It's especially lovely if you get the last trip of the day and run back along the frosty canal into the city at dusk, with all the lights on!).
DD also loves just a trip in the car with a travel mug of hot choc, snuggled up under her rug, after dark, when we do a look at all the Christmas lights on various houses in our area. Some do a big show, and we look out for good ones in the weeks beforehand and try to pick a route to get some lovely magical lights.
I like to keep Christmas Eve relatively free as well. DD usually comes into work with me for an hour or so (if I don't show up, I have to take a full day off), we meet DH for coffee/brekkie/lunch on the shopping street (only 5 mins from my office) and any last minute bits. Then we head home for some family fun - a walk on the big hill near us and burn off some energy in the playground, maybe the cinema, watch a dvd with the fire lit (somehow that one escapes DD!! But Santa is magic, and she's seen in "The Santa Clause" how he can put out fires if need be), wrap any presents together we need to. Sometimes we have visits to do, and I might potter around doing a few things, but they are all things I can abandon.
Apologies, Nene valley railway is Wansford nr Peterborough. Thursford (although has a steam railway) is in Norfolk.
Thursford IIRC, is where the Nene Valley steam railway is, and the home of the real Thomas the Tank Engine. They do Santa Specials, where each child sees Santa and gets a present, The Salvation army brass band were playing Christmas tunes on the platform. Then they have a ride on the train with decorated carriages, they get some sweets and a drink, adults get a mince pie and an alcoholic miniature! Santa walks through the train saying hello to all the DC. At least that was what happened 20 years ago, I am getting old. We went as part of the day nursery group so they booked quite far in advance. I imagine there have been quite a lot of changes since then.
Santa express on a heritage railway line.
Also Thursford - but that books up insanely early (and we only managed it because of a really on-the-ball MIL who booked for us),
And the Nutcracker.
Local National Trust place for Christmassy displays, story telling in the chapel and mince pies by the fire.
Christingle. Not religious but the whole village seem to go and its lovely.
We have some local country houses (National Trust/English Heritage type places) as well as places like Sandringham (Liz's house) and a lot of them have Christmas events. They decorate them in the style of a Victorian Christmas for example and then have staff in costume, talking, telling tales, showing how they would have cooked/run the house at Christmas. Sort of a living history thing. They're always brilliant and I think most place have a similar thing locally.
Theatre is always good, pantomimes, long walks through forests (we have friends who hide and ring bells), Christmas markets, switching on of lights etc.
Definitely garden centres too. Some of the local ones are brilliant at Christmas.
We also take the children with us to do some volunteering and helping out at local events because to us that's what Christmas is about. Or Yule I suppose which is what we really celebrate. DD is a Christian though and we include her faith too.
We also make a big thing of going to get a tree. We take hot chocolate in a flask, plus marshmallows and we walk on the beach first and tell stories of various winter solstice/pagan/Christian traditions to the dc. We have friends/family round to help decorate the tree and continue the warm drinks, food, decorating theme too. The children love it.
Hackney or Wimbledon Panto.
And we have a route through the West End which we take to see the lights and windows: Selfridges, St Christopher's Place, South Molton Street, New Bond Street, Old Bond Street, Fortums are usually our faves. We go on a Sunday afternoon, we don't do any actual shopping, and we finish up with hot chocolate and cakes on Piccadilly..
We also have lots of rituals at home.
There's a mini steam railway near us. It had Christmas train rides which stopped in a grotto. They asked for the children's names in advance and then Santa came round and called out each name and gave them a wrapped present with a toy train inside. That wowed them when they were tiny.
Last year I was inspired by MN to get everything ready on 23rd so we could have fun on Christmas eve. We went to winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, to the ice sculptures, the giant ferris wheel and the circus. They loved it. It was really magical. Need to find something for this year. Maybe a West End show on Christmas Eve.
Least successful was Harrod's grotto. Mrs Christmas had been on the sherry and took too much of a shine to DS1. She followed him all round the store, screeching out his name and dragged elves over to coo at him. All very embarrassing. I had to explain to the DC that she was a bit over excited at this time of year due to work pressure.
We do church on xmas eve. But I meant, events visiting santa at different locations, pantomimes, lapland. ..just looking for ideas to do during December x
Ours love visiting local garden centres, great decorations and very christmassy. We always go and see a nativity play to remind them what its all about.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Expensive and ques can be long so worth booking in advance and if you can do the skip que option. DD was freaked out by FC last year but was only 1 so had no idea why a strange man wanted her to sit on his lap (the pic is priceless though). It has so much to do and really made me feel 'Christmassy'
I'd second The Snowman too
I took my DS when he was 5yo (he'll be 14yo at Christmas)
He still remembers it
We always go to London, not to shop, just to look at the lights and the shops.
Hamleys is always on the agenda.
Winter Wonderland has got busier and bigger each year and we really didn't enjoy it last year.
We've done The Santa Train a couple of times - one where the DC got off the train to visit in his 'log cabin'.
The other where Father Christmas got on the train and chatted to each child.
Both were lovely old steam trains.
Cinema trip (especially as mine are getting older and don't want pantomime or Train Rides now)
DD and I go to see a ballet.
We have an outdoor activity centre about 6 miles away and they did an Activity Day where the groups did 4 different activiities (high wall climbing/archery/4x4 driving/and an indoor sport later on).
Great fun and sort of 'UnChristmassey' but needing a hot bath and a big mug of hot chocolate after
There's a reindeer farm outside of chester, and the Santa is amazing.
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