20 of the Best Family-Friendly Events for Christmas 2022
From a Santa steam train adventure to a Disney extravaganza on ice, there’s quite literally a sack-load of happenings over the yuletide period, sure to get you and your little elves in the Christmas spirit! Here’s Junior’s round up of the very merriest festive events for families in the UK for 2022
The Santa Steam Express, Departing from LONDON
- When: The train runs on Wednesday 14th December, Friday 16th, Monday 19th December and Wednesday 21st December, with three daily departures (09.30, 11.45 and 14.00).
- Where: Departing from and returning to London Victoria train station.
- Cost: First Class tickets are £40 per child, £55 per adult or £275 for a group of 6. Standard Class tickets are £30 per child, £40 per adult.. Note that children under 2 don’t need a seat but you should book one if you’d like them to receive a gift.
All aboard, for an extra special steam train adventure – with a guest appearance from none other than Kris Kringle himself! The Santa Steam Express will help families to add a sprinkle of Christmas cheer, with a magical steam journey through the winter wonderland countryside.
Passengers will be welcomed into festively decorated 1970’s atmospheric carriages, where Santa and his helpers will be on hand to meet the kids and hand out Christmas gifts. This unique trip takes around one hour and 45 minutes and promises a serious dose of vintage glamour, alongside the traditional Santa meet-and-greet. >>Visit here for more information: SteamDreams
SKATE at Somerset House, LONDON
- When: Wednesday 16th November 2022 - Sunday 15 January 2023
- Where: Somerset House, the Strand, London WC2R 1LA
- Cost: Tickets from £10-£22 for adults, £7.50 -£11 for children
Sometimes it's hard to think of ways to get the kids out into the fresh air when the temperature drops, but a trip to whizz around on the ice at Somerset house is definitely a no bribery required outing! Who could resist iceskating in a magical Christmas card setting with hot chocolate on tap?
This year, as always, the ice rink sits in the heart of Somerset House's grand courtyard so that skaters can glide about taking in the beautiful neoclassical architecture and the stunning 40 foot Christmas tree that looks fabulous by day or under the twinkling lights by night. With skate hire starting at size 23, children from as young as 3 to 4 can brave the ice, safe in the knowledge that there are plenty of frame-style skating aids on the ice to support wobbly legs.
For anyone who wants to make a day of it, there is the cosy ski lodge style Moet & Chandon sponsored Skate Lounge, where families can sit and enjoy warm drinks, snacks and a glass of champagne for the adults (we recommend this as a post-skating treat!) and there is Gourmet dining in the form of pop-up restaurant Chalet Suisse by Jimmy Garcia, serving up delicious black truffle fondue and Winter Mess for pudding. There is also a Hotel Chocolat Chocomobile on site, selling delicious hot chocolate, coffees, teas and incredible ice cream just in case you want more ice with your ice! >> Visit here for more information Somerset House (Review by Eleonore Compton)
The Magic of Christmas at ZSL London Zoo, LONDON
- When: 26 Nov 2022 - 3 Jan 2023
- Where: ZSL London Zoo, London
- Cost: Zoo entry from £26.00 per adult, child £16.90, under 3s free. Meet Santa from £13.50, VIP breakfast from £19.50 adult, £40 child, and animal gifting session from £40 per child.
Calling all early risers, as ZSL London Zoo are allowing your little elves to sneak you into the grounds super early, for a VIP breakfast with Mrs Claus and a face-to face with Santa. This hot-ticket morning event also includes a craft session and zoo tour.
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Elsewhere on the festive schedule there’s the much-loved visit to Santa’s grotto, with includes a takeaway gift and crafting session. The he zoo also hosts some quiet meet Santa sessions, designed especially for children with neurodiverse conditions. >> Visit here for more information: London Zoo
Christmas at Blenheim Palace, OXFORDSHIRE
- When: 18 November 2022 – 2 January 2023
- Where: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP
- Cost: Illuminated trail £22.50. Combined trail and palace tickets from: Adult £50, Concession: £48.50, Child (age 3-16) £30. Under 2s free. Free entry to Christmas market.
Visitors to Blenheim Palace over the festive period are in for a treat, as the grand house and gardens have been magically transformed into a twinkling, fairy tale wonderland, sure to delight both kids and parents alike.
Blenheim Palace has gone all-out this year with an illuminated trail using over one million lights, shining particularly brightly due to the lack of noise and light pollution. Venture inside the palace to see The Kingdom of the Snow Queen re-imagined, including the glistening Land of Snowflakes filled with a silvery frost-covered forest, while the courtyard will be hosting a traditional Christmas market with plenty of festive products from around the world, and a Christmas Afternoon Tea. >> Visit here for more information: Blenheim Palace
Lightopia Christmas Fantasy Light Festival, MANCHESTER, LONDON, ALTON TOWERS
- When: November 17th 2022 – January 2nd 2023
- Where: London, Manchester, Alton Towers
- Cost: Adults tickets from £24.50 for adults, £16.50 for children, £75.00 for families of two adults and two children. Under 2s free.
The loveliest of light shows can this year be found in London, Manchester and at Alton Towers, as Lightopia brightens up the winter skies with their award-winning lantern and light shows.
For Londoners, Crystal Palace Park will be aglow with a wonderland of illuminations, for 'A Christmas Fantasy' ultimate neon winter wonderland showcasing immersive, multi-sensory interactive light and lantern installations as well as a London first spectacular festive water show, ready to transport you to a fantastical Christmas experience like no other. In Manchester, Heaton Park will be getting the star treatment with a stunning display that includes multi-sensory installations, for a second year its again at Altons Towers Resort with a spectacular 'Christmas Wonder' theme. >> Visit here for more information: LightopiaFestival
Disney on Ice, Various UK Locations
- When: 2nd November 2022 to the 31st December 2022
- Where: Manchester: AO Arena from 2nd – 6th November, Aberdeen: P&J Live from 10th – 13th November,
- Belfast: The SSE Arena from 18th – 20th November, Birmingham: Resorts World Arena from the 30th – 4th December, Newcastle: Utilita Arena from 7th – 11th December, Sheffield: Utilita Arena from 14th – 18th December and London: O2 Arena from 22nd – 31st December.
- Cost: Tickets from £20
The family-pleasing Disney on Ice show is back with a serious bang this year! For 2022, Disney On Ice presents 'Dream Big' – an action-packed voyage through the Disney Kingdom. All the Disney favourites, from Moana and Minnie to Tangled and Frozen, are brought to life in this icy, epic adventure of a show.
The touring spectacular features plenty of cutting edge figure skating, high-flying jumps, eye-catching costumes and stunning set designs. The overarching theme for the production is ‘courage', so expect to see how far Moana will go when she embarks on an action-packed voyage with mighty demigod Maui. Coco will bring the festivities of Día de los Muertos to the ice, delight in Rapunzel’s hair-raising quest to see the floating lights, travel to the kingdom of Arendelle with Anna, Elsa and everyone's favourite Olaf in a dramatic retelling of the sisterly love that saved a kingdom. And, last but not least discover the strength, bravery and kindness that has inspired generation after generation with Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, Belle and Cinderella. The production will premiere in Manchester on the 2nd November, before travelling throughout the UK. >> Visit here for more information: DisneyonIce
A Christmas Carol - A version by Jack Thorne, The Old Vic LONDON
- When: 12 November 2022–07 January 2023
- Where: The Old Vic Theatre, Waterloo, London
- Cost: Tickets from £12
Keep things traditional this Christmas, with a trip to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol - with a 2022 twist with Old Vic Artistic Director Matthew Warchus’ big-hearted, smash hit returning to The Old Vic.
The feel-good festive tale joyously adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne fills the auditorium to the brim with mince pies, music and merriment. A unique staging immerses the audience in this uplifting story with a generous helping of Christmas spirit, making it a great choice for children aged 8+. Starring Owen Teale (Ser Alliser Thorne from game of Thrones) as Scrooge. >> Visit here for more information TheOldVic
Christmas at Robin Hill Country Park, ISLE OF WIGHT
- When: 10th – 28th December 2022 - selected dates
- Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
- Cost: Tickets from £24
Head to Robin Hill Country Park this Christmas for a fantastic line up of festive activities for all the family. From the beautifully illuminated Walk of Wonder ancient woodland, to the Polar Hollow, where kids can meet the lovable life-like polar bears, Pippa and Pop in the second part of this magical story (after a successful debut last year), there’s plenty to see and do in the Isle of Wight’s most magical Christmas destination.
Be sure to make time to hop onto the Big Red Express for a twinkling tractor journey and try your hand at some festive crafts in the decoration workshops. There are also live carols, rides and delicious festive food and drink, for some added ho-ho-ho! Travel to the island can take as little as 22 minutes with Wightlink, with kids travelling for free during the school holidays. >> Visit here for more information: Robin Hill
A Timeless Christmas Experience at Lyme Hall, MANCHESTER
- When: 10, 11, 17-24th December 2022
- Where: Lyme Hall, Manchester
- Cost: Adult £18.50, Child £18.50, Under 2s free
This Christmas, Lyme Hall and Park will host a Christmas adventure that starts with a unique and enchanted journey to help save Christmas with, ‘A Timeless Christmas at Lyme’ It’s the night before Christmas and Old Father Time has entrusted Jody with the secret key to the World Clock, the timepiece which controls all of time. However, in her enthusiasm, she turns the key the wrong way and the cogs of time are dispersed and time stands still.
In a quest to find the missing parts, you will embark on an immersive journey, meeting magical characters along the way, and becoming heroes of this unique story as you overcome each challenge to restore the inner workings of the clock just in time for Christmas! This spellbinding festive adventure ends with an opportunity to meet Father Christmas, tell him your Christmas wish, take photographs and receive a gift. >> Visit here for more information: SneakyExperience
Christmas at Warwick Castle, WARWICK
- When: 26th November – 2nd January 2023
- Where: Warwick Castle, Warwick.
- Cost: Castle entry from £20, Castle & Santa Visit, from £31, light trail tickets start at £15.50, skating from £15.50. Santa sleepovers from £339 per night based on a family of four sharing a woodland lodge
There’s a Christmas bonanza happening at Warwick Castle this year, with a jam-packed schedule of festive treats. Strap on your skates for a whizz around their open-air ice rink, offering dramatic views of the castle in all its glory. Warwick Castle’s light trail is also back by popular demand, with thousands of sparkling lights and breath-taking light projections.
For an extra special treat, make a night of it with a Santa sleepover in the cosy knight’s village wooden lodges, with Christmas-themed entertainment and a walk up call from a jaunty elf! >> Visit here for more information: WarwickCastle
Christmas Enchanted Adventures at Fonmon Castle, WALES
- When: Daily from the 26th November - 23rd December 2022
- Where: Fonmon Castle, Wales
- Cost: Adults and Children's Light Show Tickets, from £10 - £16; Under 3s go free
For a Christmas experience with a side helping of roarsome dinosaurs, head to Fonmon Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan. Included in the entry ticket price is a dino-hunt, where you’ll come face to face with life size beasts in the prehistoric woodland grounds. There’s also a farm, where you can see how animals lived in the middle ages and a whimsical a Fairy Kingdom' garden.
For the festive period, the castle has illuminated the grounds with atmospheric lights, plus there’s a festive market, themed walks and a fun Santa show to keep the kids entertained. >> Visit here for more information: FonmonCastle
Breakfast or Afternoon Tea with Santa at the Castle Hotel, WINDSOR
- When: selected dates in December 2021
- Where: Castle Hotel, Windsor
- Cost: £35.00 per adult, £20.00 per child aged 4-12 years, £10.00 per child aged 0-3 years
Make sure you’ve made it onto the nice list, with this noel themed afternoon tea at The Castle Hotel. Situated right in the heart of Windsor, offering the perfect royal daytrip. Push the sleigh out with this one-off festive tea, including piles of savoury finger sandwiches, traditional scones with cream and Christmas teacakes, washed down with frothy hot chocolate.
On selected days from 9am children can enjoy breakfast with a very special meet up with Mr Claus and a gift for every child under 12 >> Visit here for more information: CastleHouse
Enchanted at English Heritage, LONDON, ESSEX and KENT
- When: Friday 2nd - Friday 30th December 2022
- Where: Audley End House and Gardens, Essex; and Eltham Palace and Gardens, London and Walter Castle & Gardens, Kent
- Cost: From £15 adult, £9 child, £39 family
As dusk falls, gather up your little helpers and head to one of these stately homes and gardens, for a beautiful display of festive illuminations, from giant lilies in the river to a fairy garden, and from a tunnel of light to impressive projections on the buildings themselves.
Once you’ve explored the radiant gardens, toast a marshmallow under the night sky or hop on a traditional fairground ride. The onsite shops will also be open to stock up on a range of Christmas gifts, from traditional toys to award-winning food and drink. >> Visit here for more information: EnglishHeritage
The Twelve Days of Christmas at Bamburgh Castle, NORTHUMBERLAND
- When: 12th November – 8th January 2023, 10-4pm
- Where:Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland
- Cost: Adult £15.50, child £7.65 (5-16yrs), family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children 5-16yrs) £41, Under 4s free.
Be transported into an enchanted, whimsical world as Bamburgh Castle’s state rooms will be transformed into a spectacular festive experience inspired by The Twelve Days of Christmas. With lords-a-leaping, swans-a-swimming, gold rings, a partridge in a pear tree – and more – this installation celebrates the lyrics of the famous Christmas carol and its festive traditions. And, is the largest indoor Christmas experience in the north-east of England. Don't miss the cafe which will be serving seasonal treats and the seasonal stocked gift shop. >> Visit here for more information: BamburghCastle
Elf School at Kidzania, LONDON
- When: 3rd -31st December 2022
- Where: Kidzania, Westfield London
- Cost: Children £45, Adults £31.
Kidzania have a non-stop schedule of festive fun this year, but new for 2022 is Elf School. Wannabe elves can and learn the tricks of the trade to design the perfect toy just in time for Christmas! Once they have built their elf-confidence, they can rock along to Christmas tunes in the Lodge with their very own jingle bells, before taking to the streets of KidZania and unleashing the full Christmas spirit on all the unsuspecting adults for the parade!
With so much on offer, it’s recommended that you allow five hours for the experience. The Elf School Package includes: a secret trail to gather the clues for the password for Elf School entrance, entrance to Elf School, a VIP area for ticket holders only with SIX additional activities, available for all the family to partake in together (approx. 1 hour) and a hot drink and sweet Christmas treat for each ticket holder
Kids ages 8+ can be dropped off to explore the activities independently, while parents catch up on some last minute present buying in Westfield shopping centre. >> Visit here for more information: Kidzania
Little Red Robin Hood at BAC, LONDON
- When: 6th Dec 2022 - 8th January 2023
- Where: Battersea Arts Centre, London.
- Cost: Adults, £19.50, Children (under 16s), £16 with at least one Pay what you can performance per week
Riding on the success 'Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers' and last year's 'Sleeping Beauty and the Beast' the 2022 panto mash-up sees the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham capturing the famous outlaw Robin Hood, and a modern hero - a tiny girl in a red riding hood.Packed with original songs, live music, exciting surprises, and plenty of audience participation, making it an ideal choice for kids aged 3+. Be ready to shout “he’s behind you!” as the play explores what happens to panto villains at the end of the story.
All performances are relaxed and there is also a special sensory adaptive show and a BSL interpreted performance. The production uses a ‘pay what you want’ pricing model, ensuring that all families get to enjoy a festive outing this winter. >> Visit here for more information: BACLONDON
Christmas at Buckingham Palace, LONDON
- When: Available on selected Saturdays and Sundays between 5th November and 23 February 2023 at 10.30am
- Where: Buckingham Palace, London.
- Cost: £90.00 for adults and £49.50 for children (under-fives go free).
Maybe more poignant this year than any other the exclusive tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, offers a truly regal outing. The tours are specially designed for children and highlight stories about the Palace’s history and its role today, in a way that engages little ones.
Between the 18th December and 2nd January, the tours take on a festive theme, exploring royal Christmas traditions past and present, from Queen Victoria’s Christmas trees and festive feasting to a look at the late Her Majesty The Queen’s Christmas broadcast. There are also interactive games and activities along the way, such as learning how to dance at a royal ball and practising standing like a Guardsman, making it an unforgettable day out for budding kings and queens. >> Visit here for more information: Buckingham Palace