With the festive season nearly upon us, now is the time to start planning some Christmassy trips with the family. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or making a weekend of it, we've put together a list of the best places to experience some winter wonderment this season - so get planning for the best Christmas days out for children this year.
Watch the Christmas special of hit TV series Ben & Holly at 31 festive screenings at Picturehouse cinemas across the UK, from Wednesday December 14 to Friday December 23. The tiniest of cinema fans will love the three enchanting Winter Special episodes on the big screen, as they see the elves preparing for the holidays and peep into hustle and bustle of the Elf Factory. Tickets are £3 for kids and adults go free!
Want the best Christmas days out with children, but don’t want to travel too far? Visit your local garden centre! Until Christmas Eve, the whole family can take a festive tea or breakfast with Santa at Wyevale Garden Centres all over the country. Kids can decorate a festive cookie and receive a special gift from Father Christmas. Tickets are £9.99 for children and from £3.99 for adults. Or for £5, little ones can enter the magical Santa’s Grotto, meet the man himself and take home a gift.
It’s a feast of family activity at LEGOLAND this Christmas. There are fun rides and attractions, Santa's Grotto, an elf workshop, giant LEGO Christmas tree, a gifts market, scavenger hunt and the opportunity to work with other families to build a huge festive LEGO model in the park. Tickets are £33 per person with under-twos free.
Like the real Lapland… but without the flight and freezing cold weather. This really is one of the best Christmas days out for children. It’s a Christmas festival, with elves introducing little ones to reindeer and weaving stories of their work in Santa’s grotto. And talking of which, kids can visit Santa and take home a signed photo of themselves with him, plus make gingerbread men, build toys together and receive a little gift. There’s also ice-skating and a log cabin restaurant. It’s pricey at from £65.50 per person but a truly magical experience.
If your little ones love a good bounce on a trampoline, take them to the special Christmas breakfasts at the three Jump Nation arenas in Birmingham, Manchester and Runcorn. There will be special visits from Frozen’s Elsa and Olaf as well as the chance to bounce with some mischievous elves to Christmas songs. Plus there’s breakfast of fresh fruit, cereals, yoghurts and bacon sandwiches served by Santa’s little helpers. Tickets are £11.95 each.
There’s so much to do at London's Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, you’ll be spoilt for choice (and you may well bump into a few celebs too). Expect ice kingdoms and fairground rides, Santa Land, German-style markets, a circus and an enormous ice rink, plus loads of food and drink options. The attraction itself is free but tickets are needed for ice skating, the circus, rides and the ice bar.
Home to the North’s biggest ice rink, Winter Wonderland – at the York Designer Outlet, so handy for gift shopping! – has some lovely vintage fairground rides, loads of stalls and an Alpine café, all surrounded by an illuminated ‘forest’, to a backdrop of festive carols and family Christmas songs. Tickets cost £9.45 for kids, £10.45 for adults, plus family and group packages are available.
Westonbirt Arboretum goes all-out in December, decorating the trees with thousands of twinkling lights, forming a mile-long illuminated walkway that looks amazing. Santa and his reindeers are on hand to meet the children and there are choirs and a band to provide extra special Christmassy atmosphere. This is one of our favourite contenders for the best Christmas days out for children. The trail opens at 5pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening until December 18. Adults cost £12, tickets for children aged 5-18 are £6, children aged under 5 get in free (advance booking is essential).
Christmas takes over the city of Edinburgh in much the same way the comedy festival does in the summer. There’s everything from street performers and festive shows in the theatres to an ice rink, Children's Market, rides, attractions and fireworks. Tickets vary.
Open until January 3, Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland is right in the heart of the city so you can make an evening of it with shopping before fun at the ice-skating rink, Alpine village selling yummy food from German sausages to crepes, funfair rides and attractions. For parents, there’s even some 'Apres Skate' at the Bierkeller Bar where they can sample the mulled wine. Tickets are £9.50 for adults, £6.50 for children (3- 7 years old) and £30 for a family of four.
On December 16, 17, and 18, the whole Zoo will become a playground to discover magical characters, playful puppets and Christmas stories in which children can take an active role. There’ll be an arctic adventure at the Seal and Penguin Coast, and stargazing with the Snow Queen and her trusty Snow Wolf friend, plus a visit from Santa, a roaming Christmas choir and, of course, all the usual animals to explore. Tickets are £20 and all profits go towards conservation projects at the Zoo.
Santa and his elves are living in a log cabin in Telford! As well as visiting them, your toddler can meet real reindeers Dancer and Prancer, pop into Geppetto’s Christmas toy shop, and take a spin on the carousel and sleigh ride. Adults £8.50; children £15.95; under 2s £6; OAPs £8.
Peppa Pig World at Paulton’s Park is having a festive makeover, making it perfect for the best Christmas days out for Children. The highlight is sure to be seeing Peppa and George wrapped up in their winter hats and scarves, although we can’t guarantee there will be snow! There will be a 4D sleigh ride, and a musical Christmas tree. Adults £27.25; children 3-13 years £27.25; 12-35 months £20.75; under 12 months £6.
As you can never rely on the great British weather to provide a white Christmas, a trip to the Snow Dome means that the fun of snow is guaranteed! Explore the Christmas Snow Trail which features sledge rides, snow tubes and enchanted forests! £13.95 each on saver days, £17.95 on normal days; under 2s go free.
Home to England’s largest reindeer herd, Blithbury Reindeer Lodge is a magical place to take the kids before Christmas. As well as feeding the reindeer, you can enrol yourself in Elf School where you learn how Santa trains his reindeer and how to decorate gingerbread men – rumour has it Santa himself often pops in to say hello! Adult: £9.95; child (2-12): £14.95; under 2s: £5.95; family ticket (2 adults, 2 children, 2 sleigh rides): £60.95.
This festive season, the most popular botanical gardens in the UK are transformed into an exciting and magical Christmas experience. Explore the gardens and the festive trail before letting Father Christmas and his elves know your Christmas wish list by the fireside. Heligan Day Ticket prices: adults £13.50; children 5-17 £12; under 5s £6.