Husky sleigh rides, magical ice sculptures and lunch with Santa… give your little ones a Christmas to remember. Regina Motalib hand picks some of the best festive family attractions
hristmas really is the season to be jolly. Once you have decked the halls, and wrapped the presents there is still so much fun to have before the big day. Wrap up warm and head outdoors for a Christmas to remember. Whether you want to meet the great man himself, get a little fuzzy on mulled wine or fancy some last minute shopping at a Christmas market, get into the festive spirit with a fun family day out…
Enchanted Christmas House
The Enchanted Christmas House is sure to delight both children and parents. As soon as you step through the door a troupe of very professional theatrical elves will guide you and your little ones on a truly magical journey for the next three hours. Each decorated room you enter is totally enchanting! Explore The Garden of Winter Wonder, The Gingerbread Kitchen, Mrs Claus’s sitting room, Santa’s Grotto as well as The Busy Elves Workshop. While you enjoy mulled wine, delicious coffee and minced pies, the children will help the elves prepare for Christmas Eve. Even while they ‘work’, the young helpers are kept entertained with appearances by funny characters including a Christmas cracker.
As well as decorating gingerbread and baubles for the Christmas tree, children can dress up as their favourite characters. Tots can indulge in the usual toddler favourites including the Bouncy Zone – mini bouncy castles and ball pit, Water and Sand Play and a Construction Zone. Watch a fun performance by the talented actors and enjoy a hot, light meal before you head home with a good quality gift from Santa.
Where: 2-18 Britannia Row, Islington, London, N1 8PA
Tel: 020 3227 3200
Prices: The Enchanted Christmas House opens on 1 December and runs every weekend until 16 December and then every day until Christmas Eve. A single ticket is £54.00 or a family of four is £190.00. From 22 December ticket price increases to £69.00 per ticket or £248.00 for a family of four.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park
With so much to do and choose from, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is a festive family favourite. This year look out for the Magical Ice Kingdom. It plans to be the biggest snow and ice sculpture experience in the UK. There will be over 500 snow and ice sculptures in the different themed rooms. Roam through the forest and encounter ice bears, owls and rabbits. Children will love having a go on the ice castle slide and taking a seat in the unicorn-pulled Cinderella carriage. The usual attractions will also feature this year including the Zippos Christmas Circus and Christmas market. You can also go ice skating or take in the spectacular views of the Winter Wonderland with a ride on the giant observation wheel. There is a big selection of rides for visitors of all ages and also Santa Land – the home of Santa – where your little ones can play games, go on rides including the Santa Express, see Santa’s workshop and meet the big man himself along with his entertaining elves. Santa will also give a gift to his young visitors.
Where: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
Tel: Royal Parks 020 7298 2000
Information: Winter Wonderland will run daily from 10am-10pm during 23 November 2012 – 6 January 2013 (closed on Christmas day). Entry is free but you will need to purchase tickets for the attractions and rides. Tokens must be purchased for rides at Santa Land but it is free to visit Santa.
Victorian Christmas Steam Train Ride
Treat the family to a magical train ride onboard the Santa Special steam train run by Kent and East Sussex Railway. On arrival at Tenterden Station you will be greeted by the sounds of the pipe organ. Enjoy free rides on the Victorian Carousel then board the beautifully decorated steam train. During the hour and 10 minute journey to Nothiam Station, your excited little ones will meet Santa Claus and pixies with sacks full of presents. Each child will receive an age appropriate gift to take home and put under the tree.
You will have the opportunity to purchase hot snacks and lunches and delicious food from the BBQ. Back at the station jump on the miniature railway which takes everyone to meet the beautiful Snow Queen for a photograph – you will receive a colour photograph to take home as a memento of the day. To make your day out even more memorable, book your own luxury vintage carriage exclusively for your family and friends. The private carriage experience also includes a named present from Santa Claus for each child.
Where: Tenterden Station, TN30 6HE
Tel: 01580 765155
Prices: This is a popular attraction so book early. Early bird special price for Saturday December 1 and Sunday December 2; £14.50 for standard class and £17.50 for first class. From 8 – 23 December – £17.50 for standard class and £21.00 for first class.
Breakfast with Santa at Hamleys
The ideal dinner party for your little ones with Santa at the table in the most amazing toy store.
This scrumptious feast is one your children will be talking about long after Christmas. They can eat delicious festive food and join Santa for breakfast, brunch, lunch or afternoon tea.
During the hour long experience, Santa’s special young guests are in for a treat with stories about Santa’s magical life in Lapland. To complete their Christmas experience, they also meet the magical elves. During their one to one with Santa, they can tell him what they want for Christmas.
This infamous toy store looks even more enchanting at Christmas time with all the festive decorations. You may be tempted to purchase one or two things to add to your Christmas gifts.
Where: Hamleys London, 188-196 Regent Street, London, W1B 5BT
Tel: 0871 704 1977
Information: The Santa experience at Hamleys runs from 1 December – 24 December. Ideally suited for children aged 4-11. Tickets cost £45 per child. Each child is presented with a small gift to take home.
Much closer to home than the real Lapland – this fun filled Christmas attraction has all the trimmings. Lapland UK is a 3-4 hour theatrical event which recreates Father Christmas’s artic homeland.
Every child gets their own personalised wax sealed invitation from Father Christmas in the post. Once inside, children are given an elf passport and enter the secret world of the elves through the magical snowy pathways. Little visitors help the elves make toys in time for Christmas and meet adorable husky dogs and the Sami people dressed in beautiful costumes. Children join Mother Christmas to decorate their own gingerbread and see Father Christmas’s sleigh and his real reindeer. Your family then hit the skating rink where the elves are on hand to help beginners of all ages. Each family gets a personalised audience with Father Christmas in his snowy woodland home and takes home a special gift. Before you go home don’t forget to make a stop at Santa’s working North Pole Post Office where your little ones can post their letters to Santa.
Where: Bewl Water Estate, Lamberhurst, Kent, TN3 8JH
Tel: 0871 620 7063
Information: The attraction runs from 1 – 24 December. Tickets are priced from £44.50 per person. Superstars Day on 5 December for visitors with additional needs. Tickets for this day are £39.50 per visitor. Babies under 12 months: free entry.