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The best Christmas activities for children across the UK: 2010

From meeting Santa to Christmas trails, here's our bumper guide of fun activities for children for the festive season

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North East

Beamish Christmas
November 30–February 2
Meet Santa in his fireside grotto at Beamish Museum and see the town and pit village arrayed in decorations from the 1900s.
Time: 10am–4pm (Tues–Thurs). Cost: £16 (adults), £10 (children).
Beamish, County Durham DH9 0RG.

Durham Victorian Festival
December 3, 4
Craft and gift stalls, carol in Durham Cathedral, a nativity tableau, sleigh rides and a lantern parade are all in the mix for Durham's Victorian Festival.
See website for times. Cost: Free.

Festival Of Angels in York
December 11, 12
The streets of York will be transformed into a winter wonderland with ice sculptures, gift stalls and al fresco dining, with a parade of angels on December 12 at 12pm.
Time: 11am–6pm (Sat), 11am–3pm (Sun). Cost: Free.
The Quarter, Grape Lane, The Quarter, York YO1 7HB.

Mowbray Park's Lapland Village in Sunderland
December 11–23

Visit Santa and his reindeer at Mowbray Park and help Mrs Claus to whip up a batch of Magic Reindeer Dust.
Time: 10am–8pm (Thurs, Fri, Sat), 11am–4pm (Sun).

Burdon Road SR2 7DN.

North West

Winter Warmer at Walker Art Gallery
December 4

Be inspired by Peter Doig’s icy painting Blotter, winner of the John Moores Painting prize, and make a winter scene using collage materials at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Time: 1–4pm. Cost: Free.

William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN.

Christmas at Muncaster Castle
December 5, 12, 19, 27, 28, 29
Muncaster Castle will be arrayed in splendour for the festive season, with the gardens transformed into a winter wonderland with light illuminations.
Time: 11am–8pm. Cost: £6 (adults), £3.50 (children).
Ravenglass, Cumbria CA18 1RQ.

Walby Farm Park Live Nativity!
December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 20–23
Children can dress up and join the animals in the barn as the story of the nativity is brought to life at Walby Farm Park.
Time: 11.30am–12pm, 1.30–2pm. Cost: £5.95 (adults), £5.45 (children).
Walby, Crosby-on-Eden, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA6 4QL.

Piccadilly Gardens’ Family Fair
December 9–January 3
Take a whirl of a host of fairground rides, including the helter skelter, galloping horse carousel and chair-o-planes at Piccadilly Gardens.
Time: 11am–8pm. Cost: £1.50/£2 per ride.
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester M1 2DB.

Santa's Magical Toyshop at Eureka!
December 18–23
Head to the Eureka! children's museum and meet naughty elves Twinkle and Jingle. Take part in a magical interactive story session and receive a gift from Santa Claus. Minimum of three shows a day.
Time: 10am–5pm. Cost: £8.95 (adults/children). Show and present from Santa: £3 (over-threes), £1.50 (under-threes).
Discovery Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX1 2NE.


Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham
November 18–December 23
The charm of the German Christmas Market comes to Birmingham with chalet style craft and confectionary stalls selling everything from Chrimstas decorations to roasted chestnuts and Gluhwein.
Time: 10am–9pm. Cost: Free.
Victoria Square and New Street B2 4BA.

A Bantock Christmas in Wolverhampton
December 10
Enjoy an evening of festive entertainment in the stately Bantock House.
Time: 7–9pm. Cost: Free.
Finchfield Road, Wolverhampton, West Midlands WV3 9LQ.

Christmas Pottery Painting at Gladstone Pottery Museum
December 10–24
Paint and take home a piece of Christmas themed pottery at Gladstone Pottery Museum.
Time: 10am–5pm. Cost: £6.95 (adults), £4.75 (children). Pottery painting is £1.
Uttoxeter Road, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 1PQ.

Christmas Crafts at the Herbert
December 20–21
Head to the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and learn about the beautiful crafts made during a Victorian Christmas. Create a craft to take home.
Time: 10.30am–12.30pm, 1.30–3.30pm. Cost: Free.
Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP.

South East

Tingle Creek Christmas Race
December 3, 4
Dress as your favourite pantomime characters for the Tingle Creek Christmas race meeting at Sandown Park Race Course, Surrey. There will be a pantomime show, horse and sleigh rides, carolling and a Santa’s grotto. 
Time: 10.30am–4pm. Cost: £16–£30.

Sandown Park, Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9AJ.

Christmas Children's Trail at Claremont
December 11–20
Follow the Christmas trail around the Claremont Landscape Garden.
Time: 10am–3.30pm. Free event, plus admission £6.40 (adults), £3.20 (children).
Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey KT10 9JG.

Father Christmas at Chartwell
December 11, 12
Visit Chartwell, Churchill's family home, and meet Father Christmas.
Time: 11am–3pm. Cost: Free.
Mapleton Road, Westerham, Kent TN16 1PS.

Christmas Magic at Odds Farm Park
December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19

Meet Santa in his grotto and see Christmas-themed giant puppet shows at Odds Farm Park.
Time: 10am–4.30pm. Cost: £8.95 (adults), £7.95.
Wooburn Common Road, High Wycombe, Bucks HP10 0LX.

Mrs Greville's House at Christmas
December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
Enjoy an Edwardian Christmas as experienced by the guests of renowned hostess the Hon Mrs Greville, with the rooms of Polesden Lacey decked out in festive glory.
Time: 11am–4pm. Cost: £2 (adults), £1 (children) (plus normal admission).
Great Bookham, near Dorking, Surrey RH5 6BD.

South West

Santa Express at Bristol Zoo
November 27–December 29
Board the Santa Express for a magical journey around Bristol Zoo.
Cost: £1 per person (plus admission).
Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HA.

Friends Christmas Fair in Southampton
December 4
Visit the Friends of Cobbett Road Library Christmas Fair for traidcraft stalls with gifts and cards, mince pies and seasonal nibbles, children's activities, storytime and a Christmas Quiz.
Time: 10.30am–12.30pm.
Cobbett Road Library, Cobbett Road Southampton SO18 1HL.

Plymouth Christmas Carnival
December 5
See the Christmas lantern parade with Santa and his reindeer.
Time: 4pm. Cost: Free.
Plymouth City Centre.

Meet Santa At Trengwainton
December 12, 19
See Santa in his summerhouse grotto at Trengwainton Garden and go for a sleigh ride.
Time: 11am–4pm. Cost: £3.10 (adults), £1.55 (children).
Madron, near Penzance, Cornwall TR20 8RZ.

East London Design Show
December 3–5
Shop for original gifts, including jewellery, designer lighting, toys and ceramics at the East London Design Show.
Time: 12–8pm (Dec 3), 10am–6pm (Dec 4, 5). Cost: £5 (adults), accompanied children under 15 are free.
Shoreditch Townhall, 380 Old Street EC1V 9LT.


December 4–January 2
There’s a flurry of fun events happening at Discover over the festive season. There will be Charlie and Lola storytelling on December 4, 22, 28, 30, 31. Nicholas Allan will be reading Father Christmas Needs A Wee on December 11, followed by a One Snowy Night evening of wintry fun. And One Snowy Night author Nick Butterworth will be dropping in on December 12, 23, 29 and January 2 to read his story.
See website for full details and times. Cost: £4.50 (adults/children).
383-387 High Street, Stratford E15 4QZ.

WWT London Wetland Centre
December 11, 12
Meet the huskies at the London Wetland Centre, visit Santa in his log cabin, take part in arts and crafts and shop for wildlife themed gifts.
Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes SW13 9WT.

Battersea Park Zoo
December 11–24
Visit Santa and complete the Christmas quiz trail to find out which animal has put out a stocking at Battersea Park Zoo.
Time: 10am–4.30pm. Admission: £7.50 (adults), £6 (children), under-twos are free. Visit Santa: £3.50. Stocking trail: £1.
309 Battersea Park Road SW11 4NF.


Keeping Christmas at Pollok House
November 27–December 31
The historic Pollok House will be decked out for the Christmas season – look out for the Pollok teddy bears. Mrs Claus will be residence from November 27–December 24.
Time: 10am–5pm. Cost: £4 (adults), children are free. Meeting with Mrs Claus is £4 per child.
2060 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow G43 1AT.

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
December 18, 19
Learn about Christmas spices and take part in hands-on activities at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Time: 12.30–3.30pm. Cost: Free.
Inverleith Row EH3 5LR.

Festival Fun Day at the Scottish Seabird Centre

December 19
A day of festive fun with winter trails, animal talks and the chance to meet Santa at the Scottish Seabird Centre.
Time: 10am–4pm. Cost: Free. 

North Berwick EH39 4SS.


Santa's Toy Mine at Rhondda Heritage Park
November 2– December 23
Join the Toy Miners on an underground adventure through the snow storm and ice cave to Santa’s grotto at Rhondda Heritage Park.
Time: £3.95 (adults), £6.50 (children).
Lewis Merthyr Colliery, Coed Cae Road, Trehafod, Rhondda Cynon Taf CF37 2NP.

Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre
December 11, 12
Pick up crafts, sample tasty foods, take part in workshops and see performers such as Moses the Magician and Sir Lupin the stilt-walking knight at Caerphilly's Medieval Christmas Fayre.
The Twyn, Caerphilly, CF83 1JL.

Christmas Fun Day at the National Museum Cardiff
December 11
A family fun day with craft activities and a visit from Santa Claus at the National Museum Cardiff.
Time: 11am–4pm. Cost: Free.
National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, South Glamorgan CF10 3NP.

Mumbles Christmas Market
December 12
Pick up delicious local produce at Mumbles Christmas Market and see Santa.
Time: 9am–1pm. Cost: Free.
The Dairy Car Park, Mumbles.

Northern Ireland

Magical Christmas Memories at Springhill
December 4, 5, 11, 12
Santa and his elf will be visiting Springhill to pick up letters and hand out treats. There will be craft stalls, historic re-enactment tours around the house and the story of the first Christmas.
Time: 1–6pm. Cost: £9 (adults), £12 (children).
Springhill House, 20 Springhill Road, Moneymore BT45 7NQ.

Yuletide Market at Rowallane Garden
December 11–12
Pick up Christmas trees wreaths and floral art and warm up with hot chestnuts at Rowallane Garden.
Time: 12–5pm. Cost: £4.80 (adults), £2.40 (children).
Saintfield, Co Down BT24 7LH.

Christmas Curling at W5 in Belfast
December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18–23, 27–January 9
Take part in the ultimate curling battle with penguin versus snowmen at W5.
Time: 2.30–4.30pm daily. Cost: Free.
W5 at Odyssey, 2 Queen's Quay Belfast BT3 9QQ.

The fun goes on...
Discover our pick of cool ice rinks and Christmas pantomimes.

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