7 family days out to get you in the Christmas mood
Throughout the British Isles the Christmas rush has well and truly begun.
Amid the festive knitwear and holiday songs, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is supposed to be about family. So load up on mince pies and set your bells a-jingling – here’s seven Christmas events to get you and your brood into the Yuletide spirit.
1. Christmas at Stockeld Park, North Yorkshire
If Christmas events were reindeer, Stockeld Park would be Rudolph. Every year this North Yorkshire country house surrenders itself to a feast of festive merrymaking, boasting an enchanted forest, four different play areas, an indoor skating rink, hot chocolate and of course, a Santa’s Grotto. There is even a ski trail (usually without snow, but then you can’t have everything).
2. The Christmas Market, Belfast
A local tradition with an international flavour, Belfast’s Christmas market offers German bratwurst, Greco-Turkish baklava, and classic French crepes overflowing with Belgian chocolate.
If the food court isn’t quite your dish, enjoy some traditional entertainment on the vintage carousel, or browse the rows of alpine chalets for trinkets and toys. Filled with handcrafted ornaments and boutique decorations, this is Christmas commercialism done right.
3. Fairy Tales at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
One to fire the festive imaginations, this riverside stately home transforms itself at Christmastime into a world of fables and fairy tales. Professional storytellers roam the halls entertaining guests with anything from Disney to Dahl, and evening visitors are greeted with mince pies and a glass or three of wine.
The decorations are exquisitely interwoven with the 16th century aesthetic, resulting in a seasonal excursion that’s as tasteful as it is dramatic.
4. Ice Skating at the Eden Project, Cornwall
Given its status as the world’s largest greenhouse, you might think that Jack Frost and Santa would be giving the Eden Project a miss. Instead staff have taken a break from their 40 degree biodomes to erect Cornwall’s only indoor ice rink, just metres away from all the cacti and palm fronds. Enjoy some festive turns on the ice and then warm up with hot chocolate surrounded by tropical splendour.
5. Winter Funderland, Dublin
Boasting a 1,000m square ice rink, Santa’s grotto and its own Christmas market, Dublin’s Winter Funderland does Christmas at scale. A funfair provides the piece de resistance with several miniature rollercoasters and a giant Ferris wheel. Opening its doors well into January, Funderland should beguile festive families and thrill seekers alike.
6. The Christmas Tree Maze, Edinburgh
Lose yourself in festive feeling with Edinburgh’s annual Christmas Tree Maze – a seasonal turn on the classic hedge maze with Santa’s elves waiting at the centre. They have a wee gift awaiting you, but you’ll then have to find your way out again…
7. Christmas Lights at London Zoo, London
When night falls and all the animals are tucked up in bed, ZSL London Zoo lights up in a cascade of kaleidoscopic Christmas lights. A Christmas trail takes you all over the site – brightly illuminated tunnels, a multi-coloured fountain in the penguin pool, and a giant shimmering blue Christmas tree.
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