One of the great things about Christmas is spending some magical time with the whole family. It is a fantastic time to be in the UK; with lights, celebrations, carol singing, mince pies and mulled wine.We’re looking forward to getting our sledges out and ice skates on!
Festival Kidz have been looking for the Christmas events which are less about commercialism and more about celebrating community, music, arts and crafts, and the outdoors. With the odd Santa’s grotto thrown in.
Have a look on the map below to see which of these events are closest to you. And if there aren’t any close to you – please write in with suggestions so we can add to the list!
Please note that we have not visited all of these, many have been reader’s recommendations. If you decide to go to any, please write in and share your photos and experiences.
Across the UK
The Forestry commission runs a number of Christmas events across the UK, and you can also buy a UK grown tree from their woodlands.
This year they are running special Stick Man trails through the woods, with activities such as den building and make your own stick man.
See the Forestry Commission website for further information.
The National Trust run many magical Christmas events – check their website to find which is closest to you.
South Bank Winter Festival
15 November 2013 – 10 January 2014
This is a gorgeous annual event that is especially magical when all the lights along the Thames brighten the early evening winter darkness. A Christmas market stretches along the South Bank with all kinds of Christmas food, drink and gifts for sale. There are musicians, buskers and carol singers. Inside the South Bank centre there are always a number of free events, as well as some ticketed performances and plays. This year Slava’s Snowshow returns, a wonderful performance of physical comedy and interactive experience, or watch the incredible acrobats of Folds tumble through an extraordinary set made entirely of cardboard and paper. Colour makes a magical appearance in the sparkling world of White, created specially for 2-4 year olds.
For a full list of events and details about the Christmas market visit the South Bank website
7-8 December 2013
This is a lovely event in the beautiful surroundings of the London Wetlands. There are husky sleigh rides and a chance to meet the huskies. You can visit Father Christmas in his wooden cabin inside the pine forest, and meet a polar explorer, hear tales of his ice adventures and make your own explorer’s equipment from recycled materials.
Husky sleigh rides are free, Father Christmas and polar explorer visit are a little extra – or you can just wander around and look at the birds, bats and otters.
See the London Wetlands Centre website for further details.
28 November – 4 January 2014, weekends only
Kew Gardens are always a wonderful place to visit, in any weather. This year they are offering a late opening until 10pm and an illuminated walking trail for winter which will be a beautiful Christmassy walk for older children.
See the Kew Gardens website for further details.
Kent and Sussex
Choose your own tree while it’s still growing! You can also choose fair-trade and recycled decorations, and go for a walk through 62-acre woodlands.
Please see the Wilderness Wood website for further details.
Christmas at Wakehurst
1-22 December 2013
See the Christmas tree lights, join in the carol singing and visit Santa’s grotto, in the beautfiul surroundings of Wakehurst Place. You can also choose a tree that has been sustainably grown there.
See the Wakehurst website for further information.
Take a magical steam journey on board the Santa Express. On board the festively bedecked steam trains families will meet Santa Claus during the hour and ten minute return journey to Northiam Station. Children should also look out for the elves whose sacks are full of lovely presents.
Further information can be found on the Kent & East Sussex Railway website.
(and we would like to thank the Kent&East Sussex railway for the use of their photo, please do not reproduce without their permission)
Rochester Dickens Festival
7-8 December 2013
During the Rochester Dickens Festival the streets come alive with performers, markets, pantomimes and artificial snow.
15 December 2013
The Fairyland Trust have always been a favourite here at Festival Kidz, with their Fairy Fair winning best day event in our 2013 Festival Awards. The Fairy Christmas features a Santa’s Grotto, workshops, and a sugar plum fairy!
See the Fairyland Trust website for further information.
21-23 December 2013
This is a new children’s festival, promising lots of activities, shows and an ice rink and is set in a 20 acre ancient woodland park. Once you’ve paid admission all activities are free.
See the Little Welly website for further information.
Christmas at Eden
23 November 2013 – 5 January 2014
Ice skating, a lantern parade, live music and storytelling, crafts workshops, santa’s grotto and real reindeers – all included in the admission price over Christmas.
See the Eden Project website for full details.
Leamington Lantern Parade
Thursday 12 December 2013
This is a community event, where everyone brings their homemade lantern for a parade through the town and gardens, accompanied by a brass band. To help you get ready, there are free lantern making workshops throughout November and early December.
See the Leamington Lantern Parade website for further details and some lovely photos of the event.
Chester Zoo provides an opportunity to visit zoo at night and try lantern making, and go on a magical walk lit by animal lanterns surrounded by the nocturnal sounds of the zoo animals.
See the Chester Zoo website for tickets and further details.
Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival
23-24 November 2013
There is free entertainment, free events for children , costume competitions, balloon modelling, horse drawn carriages, music, dancing. Plus a wonderful traditional fairground, complete with Helter Skelter, and lots of music from Folk to Brass Bands.
Attendees are encouraged to come in costume, enter into the spirit of the event and take part in a period dress competition and the grand parade around the town which takes place on both days.
See the Dickensian Festival website for further details and costume ideas!
Christmas Events Map
These are the events that were suggested by the Festival Kidz team and our readers. If you have any of your own suggestions then please do add them in the comments at the bottom of this post.
View FK Family Christmas Events in a larger map