From panto and plays to markets and decorated biodomes, get out and about with your family this festive season
Christmas is nearly upon us so it’s time to start thinking about what we’re going to do with the kids this November and December. Here are 10 ideas...
1. A Christmas Carol at Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon
One of the best known and best loved ghost stories of all time, A Christmas Carol has been a perennial festive favourite since its publication in 1843.
If you only know this tale through the book, or its big screen adaptations, then why not experience Charles Dickens’ supernatural classic on the stage instead? There’s an enchanting new production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon, where even the most ‘bah, humbug’ of you won’t be able to resist its charms. Boundless members click here to save on tickets with hotel breaks.
2. Christmas at the Eden Project, Cornwall
Cornwall’s collection of biodomes is a must-visit destination at any time of the year, but it’s a place that feels even more special at Christmas. Aside from some wowsome festive lighting, it boasts a glistening ice rink as well as an ever-present Father Christmas and his elves.
There’s also plenty of festive grub on offer – make sure you sample mince pies. Click here for more details.
3. The Gruffalo's Child at the Lyric Theatre, London
“The Gruffalo said that no Gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood...” Adapted from the much-cherished picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, this critically acclaimed production promises music, laughter and some kid-friendly scariness. The List called it “everything good children’s theatre should be”.
Boundless members click here to save on tickets for The Gruffalo’s Child.
4. Festive breaks at Whitemead
If your family is already excited for the festive season, then maybe a pre-Christmas getaway at Whitemead Forest Park is what you need. During 20–24 November, with their Turkey & Tinsel deal, your family can indulge in mince pies and mulled wine and enjoy a wintry walk around the ancient forest.
If you fancy spending Christmas away from home this year, there’s a four-night Christmas break between 23–27 December. Wake up in one of the park’s festively-decorated log cabins and tuck into a tasty Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. Santa will be around to welcome children to Whitemead, where they receive a gift (£5 per child). (Selected dates in December: 2nd and 3rd, 9th and 10th, 16th and 17th and daily from Wednesday 21st December.)
You can enjoy all the usual activities on offer during the day, such as woodland walks and the indoor swimming pool, and kick back in the evening with live music tributes to the Human League, the Police, Fleetwood Mac and more. There’s even a pantomime, to make it extra Christmassy.
5. Victorian Christmas, Osborne, Isle of Wight
There’s definitely something magical – and intensely cosy – about the idea of a Victorian Christmas. But maybe going back to that era wouldn’t be so much fun (no central heating or Only Fools and Horses Christmas specials...) so let’s enjoy it in the here and now with English Heritage’s Victorian Christmas at Osborne House.
There are traditional games, period entertainers, a carousel and the opportunity for little ones to make their own old-fashioned toys. You can also meet Santa and Queen Victoria as you tour some some of the house’s festively dressed rooms.Find out more about the event here.
6. WWII Christmas, Dover Castle, Kent
25 November – 17 December
If a Victorian Chrimbo isn’t your thing, what about a World War II-themed one? Dover Castle is housing a 1940s Christmas this November and December, where you can celebrate the season in a festively-decorated underground bunker and take part in their Vintage Christmas Tea Dance. There’s plenty of activities on offer for kids, so start saving your ration book tokens ready a day out that’s full of Blitz spirit.Find out more here and save on English Heritage membership if you're a Boundless member.
7. Nativity! The Musical
Since its big screen release in 2009, Nativity has spawned two sequels and this acclaimed stage version effortlessly translates the story of a primary school teacher’s attempts to put on the world’s greatest nativity play to London’s West End.
Adapted by the movie’s writer and director Debbie Isitt, Nativity! The Musical promises all the sing-along favourites from the cinema version, including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth, One Night One Moment, She’s the Brightest Star as well as a host of new Christmas-flavoured songs.
8. Bath Christmas Market
Bath, 23 November–10 December
Get yourself to the Georgian city of Bath this November/December for their annual Christmas Market, housed within the shadows of its handsome abbey.
With over 200 chalets housing a medley of handmade and locally sourced gifts, as well as copious amounts of mulled wine, hot chocolate and carvery meat on sale, it’s a must-see if beautiful craftsmanship and quirky oddities are your thing.
There’s lots of things for sale to keep the young ones interested. Make sure you stay until nighttime sets in for maximum Christmassiness.
9. Enchanted Audley
15 – 23 December
Audley End House and Gardens in Essex promises a “winter fairytale of light, colour and sound” this Christmastime with Enchanted Audley. A lantern-decorated garden trail leads you and your family to a bustling traditional fairground, complete with carousel and swing boats. Not only that, but you can get some shopping done at their heritage-inspired stalls.
10. Dick Whittington at the London Palladium
9 December – 14 January 2018
Pantomimes have been a festive constant in British theatres since the 17th century. If you have kids, it certainly feels as if something’s missing if, by the end of December, you haven’t shouted, “He’s behind you!”
Dick Whittington is one of the panto classics and this year returns to the London Palladium with an all-star cast in tow, including Julian Clary (as the Spirit of the Bells), Elaine Paige (Queen Rat), Nigel Havers (Captain Nigel), Gary Wilmot (Sarah the Cook) and Britain’s Got Talent winners, Diversity.
This is an especially lavish production of the 500-year-old fairytale. Prepare to be dazzled.