15 fun things to do with kids in December 2017

Last updated 30th November 2017

1/15 Winterville

London’s Alternative Festive Experience is jam-packed with plenty of fun and games for all the family. Get set to slide across Clapham Common’s first ever Ice Rink, or head into the Twisted Wheels Roller Disco to glide along to a daytime soundtrack selected with children in mind. In the Spiegeltent there are performances of Michael Morpugo’s Mimi & The Mountain Dragon from Skewbald Theatre – a tale of snow dragons, puppets and songs, with plenty of audience interaction.

Big Fish, Little Fish are also hosting kids raves – join them for a daytime boogie to awesome dance-music soundtracks. The World Beyond The Wardrobe is a fantastic Narnia-inspired interactive experience for the whole family. Guests will be greeted by elves, stroll through winter forests, drink tea with fauns and creep in disguise past the wicked White Queen in a quest to bring colour back to the forest. Take a seat at Backyard Cinema’s Winter Night Garden, where you can watch Christmas classics including Home Alone, Elf and much more in a beautiful woodland setting.

This year’s Kids Quarter is curated by LittleBird and there’s the chance to get taught circus skills, make twinkly Christmas decorations and get glitter tattoos from Santa’s elves all for free. On top of all this there’s a huge festive fairground, street food from juicy ribs, crispy wood-fired pizzas to salted caramel brownies to enjoy. Baby changing facilities and pushchair access will be available across the site.

When/where: Through Dec until 1 Jan, 2018, Clapham Common London

Price: Entry is free for kids under 16, and free for 16+ except Friday and Saturday night with a £3 entry from 6pm

2/15 Take a flight with Santa

Santa really can fly! Father Christmas and his Elf will be on board special flights on the British Airways i360 pod in Brighton in the run-up to Christmas, meeting families and handing out gifts to children. As well as enjoying a ride on the world’s tallest moving observational tower, you’ll be able to meet Santa and make sure he knows where your house is. You may even get to point out your chimney to him if you can see it in the unfolding views across Brighton and the south coast.

While on board, you can enjoy a drink at the Nyetimber Sky Bar, which serves a range of drinks from Sussex including Nyetimber, an award-winning sparkling wine. At the base of the tower is the British Airways i360 beach building, which houses a stylish new restaurant, West Beach Bar & Kitchen, with sea views and a large terrace. Dishes feature ingredients sourced from the local area. Get a memento of your day at the The British Airways i360 shop stocking gifts and souvenirs, many of which have been created by local Brighton artists.

When/where: 1-24 Dec, British Airways i360 Brighton

Price: Adults: £16, Children age 4 – 15 years: £10, Children under-4 years: £5, 10% discount on these prices when booked online more than three days in advance. Further discounts are available for British Airways i360 Resident Members. Child tickets include one gift from Santa per child.

3/15 Merry Xmas at Moors Valley Country Park

From meeting stable animals to storytelling sessions and the chance to meet Santa, there are merry happenings aplenty at Moors Valley Moors Valley Country Park and Forest this winter. The fun begins on the first weekend of December as The Old Fairy Godmother weaves storytelling magic as she decorates her tree for a rather special visitor.

There are Santa Special trips on The Moors Valley Railway – visit Santa in his station grotto to receive a gift and enjoy seasonal refreshments on board served by his helpful elves. Pet stable animals from Longdown Dairy Farm and get a special family photograph with a white falcon or owl.

Enjoy madcap humour with a sprinkling of magic at the Moors Valley pantomime ‘The Frog Prince’ courtesy of Forest Forge and Bumblefly Theatre, join in with carol singing at dusk, a Family Festive Quiz trail and you can even choose a Christmas tree – choose from a scented Norway Spruce or non-needle dropping Nordmann Fir. Holly wreathes and mistletoe are also on sale and visitors can all take home a free Christmas tree sapling with every tree they buy.

When/where: Selected dates in December. Moors Valley Country Park, nr Ringwood, Hampshire

Price: Ticket prices vary, booking essential for some events

4/15 Ho ho ho at The Royal Albert Hall

Here’s your chance to meet Father Christmas at the world’s most famous stage – The Royal Albert Hall. In an immersive and theatrical experience, you’ll make your way through the Hall’s captivating spaces, transformed into a winter wonderland full of the sights and sounds of Father Christmas’ bustling world. The story starts as we learn that Santa’s sleigh has made an emergency landing at The Royal Albert Hall because he’s run out of Christmas Spirit fuel. He and his magical friends from the North Pole need little helpers to collect enough Christmas Spirit, to help him fly it in time for Christmas Eve.

On this Christmas adventure, children and their families will be taken on an interactive journey through enchanted spaces within the Hall, guided by magical characters including a musical Snow Queen, before meeting Santa himself at his sleigh. There’ll be interactive games, stories, songs and activities making this experience a delightful new take to the Father Christmas tradition. All little helpers will meet Mrs. Claus in a cosy winter grotto, who will help them get Santa’s sleigh working again before they meet Father Christmas himself for wishes, photos, and a simple Christmas gift.

When/where: 5 – 24 Dec, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London

Price: £25, including gift. Accompanying adults go free

5/15 Fun at The Frosted Fairground

Dreamland Margate has been transformed into The Frosted Fairground for the festive season. There’ll be the chance to dance on ice on an undercover ice rink with a clear roof and walls for taking in the sights at the winter-themed amusement park. There’ll be a special appearance by favourite Christmas characters The Snowman™ and The Snowdog on the 21st December, so don’t forget your camera for a snowy selfie.

Father Christmas’ Grotto Experience will feature elves, crafts and a sing-along with Father Christmas himself all topped off with a gift for each child.  And compering the stage throughout the Christmas period will be Jack and Jackie Frost hosting sing-a-longs, reporting on the likelihood of a white Christmas, playing Christmas number ones at and switching on all the sparkling lights every day. Plenty of seasonal food and drink and lots more music and entertainment will keep you warm and full of festive feeling

When/where: Selected dates in December, Dreamland Margate

Price: See website to book tickets

6/15 There’s a warm welcome at the stable this Christmas

Stable restaurants are renowned for their pizzas, pies and cider. And it’s a win, win, win combination for dining out en famille. Pizzas, everyone loves. Pies, ditto. Award-winning, artisan ciders? Many of us adults are quite partial to those, thank you. All 17 Stable restaurants around the UK offer different menus offering locally sourced products, which they use to top the pizzas, fill the pies and plump up their salads. P

izza bases are made with organic sourdough flour and come light and crispy, topped with top-notch (and some might say unusual) produce from local growers and suppliers. One to try? The Blazing Saddle, with tomato sauce, slow roasted pulled beef, Trealy Farm (Monmouthshire) smoked streaky bacon, caramelised onions, roasted red pepper and mozzarella – topped with sour cream and jalapeños. Yum.

The Stable’s Christmas menu features many of the regular menu choices along with festive favourites such as The Turkey Gobbler – a pizza topped with roasted free-range turkey breast, chipolata meatballs, herb-roasted potato, crispy bacon, caramelised onions, fresh sage and mozzarella. The dessert menu isn’t extensive, but that’s a good thing. Because what’s on there is considered…and comforting. Think home-made Apple and Blackberry Crumble Pie with Clotted Cream, Nutella Pizza Pudding and Cheesecake. Many of the restaurants offer live music on some nights and you can also set up Cider Tasting experiences.

When/where: Open daily, 17 restaurants nationwide

Price: The Christmas set menu is £19 for two course; £24 fro three. Kids menus are £7.50 for Pizza, Salad Bites and a drink. £10 with dessert

7/15 Enchanted at English Heritage

Don your hats and scarves and explore the grounds of six English Heritage sites after dark. The Enchanted season sees historic castles, country homes and palaces transformed into magical winter fairy-tales of light, colour and sound. Lines of lanterns laced through the boughs of trees and strings of fairy lights sparkling amongst leaves will lead you along an enchanting garden trail into a winter wonderland.

After you’ve taken the twinkling trail head to the fair ground, where you’ll find a carousel and swing boats to carry you back to times gone by. There will be plenty to enjoy besides – from mince pies and mulled wine, to chestnuts and Christmas shopping at heritage-inspired stalls.

When/Where: 15-23 Dec, Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in South Yorkshire, Osborne in Isle of Wight, Eltham Palace and Gardens in London, Audley End House and Gardens in Essex, Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire

Price: See English Heritage website

8/15 The Showstoppers

The Improvised Musical (Best Entertainment and Family Show Olivier Award winners 2016) are bringing a seasonal helping of their hit family show to London this Christmas. The Showstoppers’ Christmas Kids Show is different every time as The Showstopper elves take audience suggestions and spin a brand-new comedy musical out of them, improvising stories, characters, tunes, lyrics, dances and harmonies  – with unpredictable and hilarious results. Pirates at the North Pole?

Ahoy me hearties! Harry Potter in Lapland? Of course! The Gruffalo singing carols with Peppa Pig? Just shout it out and The Showstoppers will bring it to musical life. It’s a show where the kids are in charge, getting to decide everything from who the heroes are to what happens next. They can even join in

When/where: 16 – 30 Dec, The Paradiso Speigeltent, Leicester Square, London

Price: £15 (£13.50 concessions), £52 Family Ticket (a group of 4 to include a minimum of one adult)

9/15 Meet Father Christmas – in a cave!

Deep under a Welsh mountain, Santa is waiting to see you! The Cathedral Cave Christmas Experience and Dan-yr-Ogof Christmas Experiences are underworld adventures they’ll never forget. Set off to find Santa through the twisting, turning cave passageways, on into enormous caverns until you reach Santa’s magical underground grotto in Cathedral Cave or Dan-yr-Ogof Cave.

After you’ve met the man himself, there’s the chance to see one of the largest collections of life-sized dinosaur models in the world, as well as the opportunity to take a trailer ride to the Morgan Brothers’ farm to meet the animals – look out for the magnificent Shire Horses. If you have any energy left to burn, head off to Barney Owl’s Playground with a Jurassic karting track, indoor adventure playgrounds with slides, climbing ropes, tunnels and walkways

When/where: Weekends in Dec, National Showcaves Centre for Wales, Abercraf, near Swansea

Price: From £14 for adults, including a hot drink and mince pie, £11 for children aged 3-12 and £6 for children aged 2 and under, including a visit to see Santa and a gift

10/15 London Santa Dash

Get your Santa suit on – it’s time for a seasonal sprint! Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity is calling on runners large and small to suit up as Santa and run for fun whilst raising money for seriously ill children.

There’s a 5k or 10k course around Clapham Common to merrily make your way around – and you can run like Rudolph or stroll like a snowman around the course, feeling ho-ho-ho happy to know that all money raised will make a real difference to children and families at the hospital and across the UK. There’ll be festive activities – including a snow machine and a brass band – to keep all the family entertained and all participants will receive a complimentary Santa suit, a medal, a mulled drink and mince pie at the finish line.

When/where: 3 Dec, Clapham Common, London

Price: Entry prices are £25 for adults and £15 for children aged 5–15. Infant entry (ages 4 and under) – free

11/15 Bricklive Christmas

You can build and create all sorts of Christmas creations at the interactive LEGO® adventure, BRICKLIVE. Taking place in London’s prestigious, Saatchi Gallery – a place renowned for its creativity and imagination – expect everything from festive LEGO® Christmas decorations to a dedicated Star Wars Zone. In all, there are four themed zones to explore and build your way through on an unique seasonal journey.

From Christmas and Creative zones, through to Minecraft and Galactic adventures, each zone will provide a different brick-based, interactive activity for fans to build dream creations. Help make a giant three-metre LEGO® mosaic, add your art to the 24-metre graffiti wall and construct a wheeled creation for some adrenaline fuelled ramp races. There’ll be a chance to take a trip through time with a historical display of previous official LEGO® Star Wars sets, a never before seen six-foot long super star destroyer fleet and other amazing fan creations at the Galactic Adventure zone.

Promising another LEGO® favourite, the Minecraft zone allows visitors to create their own models and of course, play the game itself on Minecraft consoles. You can also stock up on Christmas gifts for even the most ardent fans – with bespoke baubles and exclusive brick-built winter roses for sale. Donations from the event will go to Fairy Bricks, a charity which provides LEGO® bricks to children in hospitals and hospices in the UK.

When/where: Through Dec until Jan 7, Second Floor Saatchi Gallery, Duke Of York’s HQ, London

Price: £15 for a standard admission, or £30 for a premium ticket

12/15 Reindeer Run

Antlers at the ready?  Get ready, set and go run like Rudolph to raise money for the blood cancer research charity Bloodwise. Open to all ages, the event – taking place in the stunning surroundings of Holyrood Park – has 1.5k, 5k or 10k courses to dash, prance or walk, skip or hop around. Fancy dress and Christmas jumpers are strongly encouraged and you’ll receive your own reindeer antlers to wear on the day!

There’ll be festive events on the site to enjoy too. All the money raised will fund life-saving research and vital support for people affected by leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood disorders. Organisers ask that everyone raise £50 to help fund vital research taking place in Scotland. Register for a festive fundraising pack which includes a fundraising guide, sponsorship form, collection box and of course, antlers.

When/where: 3 Dec, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Price: Registration is £12 for adults and £6 for children. Families (2 adults and 2 children) can register for £35. Go to the Bloodwise website

13/15 Eureka! Digi Playspace

Eureka! the UK’s National Children’s Museum is hosting an amazing interactive playground exhibition called digiPlaySpace, direct from Canada. Created by artists from across the globe, there are 14 exciting interactive exhibits for kids to touch, control and play; combining fun and learning with robots, electronics, stop-motion animation, music and gaming.

The 14 exhibits include Pop ‘n’ Lock, offering the chance to step into the spotlight and be filmed busting your best dance moves to create your own stop-motion animation; Sphero Speedway where you race a robotic sphere around a speedway and learn the basic elements of computer programming at the same time and Line Wobbler, an award-winning LED game to test your hand-eye coordination.

There’s also the chance to create your own robot using colour-coded magnetic cubes that can be snapped together to make an endless variety of droids with no wiring or programming required, play ‘Trackoons’ – racing through downtown Toronto as an animated raccoon – and become an anteater in ‘SimAntics’, a surreal two-player simulation game where you control the anteater’s tongue through a network of ant tunnels.

When/where: Until April 2018, Eureka! Halifax

Price: The standard Eureka! ticket is also an Annual Pass, letting all of the party paid for on the day of the first visit to come back to Eureka! free of charge as many times as they like over the next 12 months. Adults: £12.95, Children age 3+: £12.95, Toddlers 1-2: £5.25, Babies 0-11 months: Free

14/15 Pinocchio

Take a trip to the alpine forest this winter as Pinocchio makes its world premiere at the National Theatre. On a quest to be truly alive, Pinocchio leaves Geppetto’s workshop with Jiminy Cricket in tow. Their electrifying adventure takes them from alpine forests to Pleasure Island to the bottom of the ocean. This spectacular new production is brought to the stage by an extraordinary team including John Tiffany, the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Dennis Kelly, the writer of Matilda the Musical.

Featuring magical music and songs from the Walt Disney film including ‘I’ve Got No Strings’, ‘Give a Little Whistle’ and ‘When You Wish upon a Star’ in dazzling new arrangements, Pinocchio comes to life as never before. Pinocchio is for brave 8-year-olds and above as certain themes, characters and events in the story may be a bit scary for children of eight and under.

When/where: Previews from 1 Dec, National Theatre, London

Price: Ticket prices vary

15/15 Breakfast and afternoon tea with Santa

Join Santa and the elves for a magical cooking and eating experience – wither breakfast or tea – complete with singing and dancing elf-style! Prepare a traditional Lapland meal with Mary Christmas in this group interactive theatre experience with food. Stir sticky porridge, create festive chocolate cereal cakes and edible coconut snowballs, enjoy cheese or peanut butter sandwiches and don’t forget to help the elves wake Santa before he sleeps through Christmas.  This event is performed by children’s theatre company Tea Dance for Little People and is sure to help create hands-on magical memories for little ones

When/where: 9 & 10 Dec, 16 & 17 Dec, The Horniman Museum, London

Price: £8 per child / £5 per adult. Recommended for ages 3+