101 fantastic activities for the Christmas 2018 school holidays

Alice in Winterland Festival
Explore an architect-designed gingerbread city, track down some real pirate treasure and even see Santa swimming with the sharks (yes, really!). It's all going to be an awfully festive adventure this winter with 101 amazing and educational activities for you and the kids to enjoy together! By Hetty Walton
Login or Register to add to my wishlist

Christmas holidays 2018 family activities in England

A very important date!
What: Follow Alice’s footsteps down the rabbit hole as you embark on an adventure through Winterland at Southwark Park in London. Over 160 giant lanterns turn the timeless story into an interactive experience for the whole family, as you venture through 29 interactive scenes such as the chess game from ‘Through the Looking Glass’ and meet well-known characters including the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee along the way. With live music and a chance to meet Santa or dine at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, you’re sure to have a wonderful time!
Where: Alice in Winterland Festival, Southwark Park, Southwark Park Rd, London SE16 2JH
When: Until 5 January. Times vary. Live music only on certain dates.
Need to know: Family ticket from £49. Santa visit costs extra.

Main image: Alice in Winterland Festival

Medical mayhem
Based on the hit television series, Operation Ouch! is live on stage for the first time in the UK. Doctors, CBBC superstars and identical twins Dr Chris and Dr Xand explore the fascinating world of biology and show the audience the awesome things the body can do through a mixture of incredible stunts, crazy experiments, silly jokes and amazing facts and figures. A must-see for future medics, the show is wonderfully entertaining for anyone aged 5 to 95 (there's plenty for the adults in the audience to enjoy too!).
Where: Apollo Theatre, 31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7EZ
When: 6 December 2018 - 6 January 2019; most peformances are at 11am and 2pm
Need to know: Tickets from £15.50.

Winter woodland walking
What: Uncover the secrets of Kew’s winter woodlands, experience storytelling and outdoor theatre, explore how plants, fungi and wildlife contribute to ecosystems in all seasons and recycle your Christmas Tree in the New Year – there's lots to do and see at Kew throughout the holiday period. Why not enjoy a welly walk, wander along woodland trails and join Grimbert the Badger and Reynard the Fox on an outdoor adventure?
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London TW9 3AB
When: 22 December – 6 January, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Off-peak ticket pricing: Adult: £13.50, Child: £4.50, Concession: £11.50

Animal magic
It's getting cold outside, so warm up with a hot drink while you explore some the Natural History Museum this winter. Discover the life of Charles Darwin at the Wider Earth live show in a specially built theatre and see this year’s line-up of award-winning nature photography for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, before taking to the ice rink and skating the night away under glowing frosty trees.
Where: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD
When: Until 7 Jan, 10am-5.50pm. Closed 24-26 December.
Need to know: Entry to museum free. Charge for exhibitions, Wider Earth show and ice-skating. Tickets can be booked online.

Be transported
Make for the London Transport Museum and track down Santa in his Secret Christmas Cabin, or one of the Museum’s historic vehicles for a free Christmas badge and a Super Santa Selfie. You can enjoy a storytelling or sing-along session, create some festive bunting or explore the vintage festive Poster Parade. You can even take a special vintage bus tour around the city!
Where: London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB
When: 1 Dec-5 Jan, 11am - 5pm. Bus tours 21 & 22 Dec, 2.30pm, 4pm and 7pm (21 Dec,) 4pm, 5.30pm and 7pm (22 Dec). Limited availability.
Need to know: Adult £16 online, children under 18 free. Bus tour from £10 adult, £5 child.

Awesome Alnwick
What: There’s a whole host of festive fun for everyone to enjoy this season at Alnwick Garden in Northumberland. You can see the all-new Christmas lights show, explore the Winter Trail, pick up some presents at the Christmas Market, visit Father Christmas or even swoosh around the ice rink!
Where: The Alnwick Garden, Denwick Lane, Alnwick NE66 1YU                          
Until 6 Jan. Times vary.
Need to know: Entry to the Gardens required, family ticket from £20.26 online. Additional charges apply for the Light Show, Father Christmas and ice skating.

Passion for fashion
How would you have dressed for Christmas festivities in Victorian times? Find out at the Fashion Museum, where there are replica historical dresses, coats, hats and bonnets for adults and children to try on. Why not take a selfie in the dress up fashions from the past against a backdrop image of Bath’s Royal Crescent?
Where: Bath Fashion Museum, Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QH
When: Throughout the Christmas holidays
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket from £29 online.

Merry fishmas
Make the festive season go swimmingly thanks to the National Marine Aquarium, as Santa Claus himself will join the array of colourful marine life in the Eddystone Reef tank, swimming amongst Stella and Stanley, the smooth-hound sharks. There's also a Christmas trail, festive craft activities, interactive shows as well as 'A Christmas Night to Remember' complete with winter wonderland, traditional choir and cupcake decorating.
Where: National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF
When: Santa dives: 16-24 Dec, 2pm. 'A Christmas Night to Remember’: 23 Dec, 5-7pm.
Need to know: Tickets for 23 Dec cost £10 child, £5 adults. Normal admission, £15.95 adult, £11.95 child (3-15).

Game plan
Spend Christmas in St Albans as it celebrates with an incredible array of festive games, events and activities. Start your journey at the new St Albans Museum + Gallery, where V&A’s Game Plan exhibition celebrates the joy, excitement and occasional frustration of playing board games and get to enjoy some giant board games in the galleries and crafting with a gaming theme. Then explore the Verulamium Museum to learn more about Saturnalia and the games played by the Roman inhabitants of the city.
Where: St Albans Museum + Gallery, Market Place, St Peter’s Street, St Albans AL1 3DH & Verulamium Museum, St Michael's Street, St Albans AL3 4SW.
When: 18 Nov-6 Jan, 10am-5pm.
Need to know: Many events free or small charge for workshops.

Roll up, roll up!
Delve into the drama of the big top and explore the incredible stories behind the spectacle of the circus with the special exhibition at Newcastle’s Discovery Museum. With wondrous surprises for all ages, highlights include the fabulous Arthur Fenwick Collection of circus art and memorabilia from the 1770s to the 1950s. There’s also a spotlight on the life and career of Tyneside’s 19th century clown and entertainer Billy Purvis, as well as exploring the history and development of clowns in the circus ring. You can also have a go at circus-themed art and crafts.
Where: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 4JA
When: 29 December, 11am-1pm & 2-4pm
Need to know: Book online. Tickets £15 for one child (3-12) plus one adult and £7 for each additional adult or child aged 13+

Tasty treats
Enter a magical mansion inspired by the theme of 'food glorious food' at Tatton Park this Christmas. Discover the impressive staterooms and servant’s quarters decorated to celebrate seasonal fayre complete with sweet treats and music along the way. Experience a traditional family feast in the dining room, follow the jelly sweet path as it twists through the gingerbread village and enjoy the scents of oranges and cinnamon in the scullery. Help the servants with their Christmas food preparations and don't forget to follow the sprout-spotting trail!
Where: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN
When: 21-23 December, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Costs £10 adult, £6 child. £7 vehicle park entry charge.

Take that and party
You are warmly invited to a very special Victorian Christmas party at London’s V&A exploring all things festive, from Christmas cards to trees. You'll also find out how Victorian children entertained themselves on Christmas Day.
Where: V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
When: 15 & 22 Dec, 11am, 1 & 3pm
Need to know: Free, drop-in.

Monster magic
Following hot on the heels of The Gruffalo’s sell out tour and his monstrous West End success comes The Gruffalo’s Child. Just how brave is she? Find out for yourself by joining her at artsdepot this Christmas. One wild and windy night the Gruffalo’s Child ignores her father’s warning and tiptoes out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn’t really exist... does he? Tall Stories returns, bringing Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s award-winning sequel to life in this magical, musical adaptation.
Where: artsdepot, 5 Nether Street, Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley, London N12 0GA
When: 16 Dec-6 Jan, 11am-2pm
Need to know: Tickets from £14.

Merry and brigh
The luminous, festive Magic Lantern Festival is back in Birmingham with all-new esigns for 2018. Expect life-size and larger-than-life lanterns in all shapes and forms, from reindeer and Chinese pandas to a magnificent recreation of a gingerbread house. Online pre-booking essential.
Where: Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TR
When: Until 1 January, open every day during the school Christmas holidays from Friday 21December. From 5pm to 10pm each day with last entry at 9pm.
Need to know: Family ticket £38.

Winter wonderland
Celebrate the festive season this year in Newcastle BALTIC’s Winter Woodland. Get creative making two Christmas tree decorations, play with the wood elves and join in with a 12 Days of Christmas sing-along before settling down for a hot chocolate with marshmallows while the elves go about their special Christmas gift-giving. You can also have a go in the new Igloo Room, complete with giant ice cubes, icicles and snowballs.
Where: BALTIC, Gateshead NE8 3BA
When: 15-16 & 22-23 Dec, 10am-4.15pm
Need to know: Tickets £13 (one child & one adult). Every child gets gift and reindeer food.

Wintery wizards
It's holiday time in Hogwarts as The Harry Potter studio tour gets its annual festive makeover complete with Christmas trees, Great Hall festive feast and decorations and cards in Gryffindor common room. The beautiful scale model of the school will also be looking wintry, with snow and ice effects carefully applied by hand and you'll be able to learn more about all the different types of snow used during production.
Where: The Making of Harry Potter, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, London WD25 7LR
When: 16 Nov-26 Jan, check for ticket availability.
Need to know: A family ticket from £140 online. Tickets must be booked in advance.

Take the biscuit
Marvel at an elaborately-created Gingerbread City featuring more than 60 architecturally-designed biscuit buildings created by The Museum of Architecture in London. Designed and baked by leading architects to a grand masterplan, you can also take part in a separate workshop to create your own mini masterwork out of ready-made gingerbread, icing and sweets.
Where: V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL; Creative Studio, Level 4, adjacent to Glass, Room 131
When: Exhibition: 8 Dec-6 Jan. Workshop: 16, 22-23, 28, 30 Dec & 5, 6 Jan. 10.30am-5pm.
Need to know: Exhibition £6 per person. Workshop £30 per adult and child.

Boxing clever
What: Kay Harker is on the train home from school for the holidays. But this Christmas will be different. His parents are dead, and the wolves are running… On the train he meets an old magician, Cole Hawlings, who charges Kay with protecting his Box of Delights, a wondrous device with time travelling powers. But when the old man disappears, Kay faces the fight of his life to protect the Box, and with it, the people he loves. Enjoy this wonderful winter tale by John Mansfield brought to the stage at Wilton's Music Hall.
Where: The Box of Delights, Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, London E1 8JB
When: 30 Nov-5 Jan, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Need to know: Tickets from £12.50.

Picture perfect
Head to London's National Gallery to follow a winter story trail through the artwork on display. Pick up a trail and pencil from information desks, then return after your travels through wintery landscapes to collect a sticker.
Where: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
When: Story trail, 16 Dec-6 Jan, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Free

Let there be light
Even in winter, you might need to grab your sunglasses for a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry as they explore the magic of light. You'll be seeing stars as you get to make your very own kaleidoscope. Fancy a trip to the theatre? Turn your phone into a projector and share your stories in a hands-on workshop. How do we light up our homes? Discover this and more as electrical items battle it out in the Science Showdown.
Where: Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP
When: 22 Dec-6 Jan, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Free

Beach life
Have some seaside fun this holiday down in Cornwall as you make festive pompoms and explore the dark den at Tate St Ives. Then take time out in the relaxation zone and make a special New Year wish.
Where: Tate St Ives, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1TG
When: 27 Dec-3 Jan, 10am-4pm
Need to know: For under 12s. Free with admission. Drop in, no booking required.

She's behind you!
Help save Christmas and catch Granny Swagg before she steals all the toys on Christmas Eve in a pantomime inspired performance based on Janet and Allan Ahlberg's best-selling book, Cops and Robbers.
Where: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN
When: 27 and 28 December
Need to know: Free

Light and magic
Make the most of the winter evenings with an enchanting experience of light, colour and sound as Audley End is transformed into an illuminated world. Follow the winter trail inspired by fairy tales and folklore and discover the magical secrets hidden deep within the woodlands. Step through tunnels and pathways of beautiful fairy-lights, cross the enchanted bridge, encounter a family of singing trees and stand inside a dazzling, 3D installation to experience a kaleidoscope of colour, then create your own patterns of light and sound with a hands-on artwork.
Where: Audley End, Off London Road, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JF
When: 27-30 Dec, 4pm-9pm
Need to know: Family ticket costs £31.60

Globe for it!
Grab yourself a bargain and get two for the price of one at Coventry's The Herbert this Christmas! You can immerse yourself into a winter snowstorm as you make a selfie snow globe with a handy little flip calendar attached to see you through the year ahead and then catch their current First World War in Art exhibition.
Where: The Herbert, Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP
When: 2-5 January, 10.30am-3.30pm
Need to know: Workshop £2.50. Drop in. Exhibition free.

The magic faraway forest
If you're fed up of hibernating at home, celebrate at the Eden Project's winter festival. Watch as their winter landscape is transformed with light projections, dramatic soundscapes and live music, go ice skating, explore an enchanted rainforest at twilight, make an elf hat or candy cane mouse - as well as live storytelling and a visit to Father Christmas' camp!
Where: Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
When: To 30 December, 4-7pm.
Need to know: Events included in admission price. Family ticket from £64 online.

Go wild!
Get outdoors (inside) with this exhibition of the British Wildlife Photography Awards at The Beaney in Canterbury, celebrating the beauty and diversity of British wildlife. Winning images are chosen from thousands of entries in fifteen separate categories including a category for film and two junior categories to encourage young people to connect with nature through photography. You can also make and decorate your own binoculars to spot weird and wonderful museum wildlife, explore the museum in disguise as a four legged furry-friend with your very own fox-inspired 3D mask or create the perfect scene for your creatures to play in.
Where: The Beaney, 18 High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2RA
When: 10 Nov-3 Feb, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Exhibition free. Workshops £6 for all three.

Crafty castle
Head to Windsor Castle and get a glimpse of Christmas celebrations on the grandest scale, complete with a giant 20ft Christmas tree and row upon row of glittering Christmas lights. Bursting with inspiration, visit their art workshop and create your very own decorations to take home and hang on your Christmas tree. Our art activities this year will be inspired by the wartime pantomimes performed by The Queen at Windsor Castle when she was still a princess.
Where: Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1NJ
When: Each Saturday in December, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. A family ticket costs £54.70.

Forage for a fossil
Walk off all that turkey and get your hands on a piece of real prehistory by heading to the Isle of Wight for a fossil-finding trip. Run by real life palaeontologists and geologists from the Dinosaur Isle Museum (in a building shaped liked a giant pterodactyl!), you could find yourself your very own dinosaur footprint.
Where: Dinosaur Isle, Culver Parade, Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO36 8QA
When: 29 December, 10am
Need to know: Family ticket costs £19.50. Call 01983 404344 to book. Wear waterproof boots, wrap up warm and bring a bucket or strong plastic bag.

Puppet panto
Enjoy an performance of The Frog & The Princess followed by a family workshop at the Norwich Puppet Theatre. The show is all about friendship (and the festive season is all about celebrating!) so see the show then create your own puppet friends to be guests at your perfect party. Who will you invite?
Where: Norwich Puppet Theatre, St James Whitefriars, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1TN
When: 29 December, 11am-2.30pm
Need to know: Family ticket costs £55, book online or call 01603 629 921.

World of wonder
Hyde Park's giant celebration of festive fun is back for a 12th year and perfect for getting you in the Christmas mood. Expect Victorian fairground rides, Santa Land and two circuses, as well as the biggest outdoor ice rink in the UK illuminated with more than 100,000 lights. There's also a walk through The Snowman Experience and The Magical Ice Kingdom – a special ice show complete with unicorns, wolves and even a Giant Redwood tree!
Where: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London W2
When: Until 6 January, 10am-10pm
Need to know: Admission free. Attraction costs vary.

Mummers the word
Come along and catch a special 50th anniversary performance of this traditional English seasonal folk play full of colourful characters and comic drama performed by troupes of actors known as mummers or guisers or see Santa in his Victorian parlour.
Where: Haslemere Educational Museum, 78 High Street, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2LA
When: 22 December, 11am
Need to know: Performance free, Santa visit £5.

Christmas tingle
Feel all warm or fuzzy inside at these family-friendly workshops at the Roald Dahl Museum this Christmas. You can send a festive letter, make a thank you card, or simply enjoy some seasonal storytelling.
Where: The Roald Dahl Museum, 81-83 High Street, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16 0AL
When: 22-23, 27-28, 29-30 December, 12-3pm
Need to know: Event costs £3. Family admission £22.60. Call 01494 892192 to book.

Bay watch
Enjoy some Christmas lights with a difference down in Cornwall this year. First started in 1963 by Mousehole-based artist, Joan Gillchrest, the town uses more than 7,000 bulbs to decorate the harbour and surrounding houses with hundreds of colourful displays. You'll be able to spot a blue whale, sea serpent and sailing boats as they gently drift around the old town harbour, as well as stargazey pie, made famous in Antonia Barber's classic children's book, The Mousehole Cat.
Where: Mousehole, Mounts Bay, Cornwall, Penzance TR19 6PG
When: 16 Dec-5 Jan, 5-11pm

Bright lights
Add a sprinkle of festive cheer to your home this Christmas and play with paper to create Barbara Hepworth-inspired Christmas decorations for your home. Or join forces and collaborate as a family to build sculptures using metal wire, clay and recycled objects.
Where: The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 5AW
When: 23 Dec & 1-3 Jan, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Free.

Going underground
Meet Father Christmas and follow the magical tale of Cora and the Bloobious Bright as you walk through these 4,500-year-old caves in the Forest of Dean. Mined for iron ore, there's maze of underground tunnels, which hide (apart from Santa) waterfalls, lakes and even an underground café and market!
Where: Clearwell Caves, The Rocks, Nr Coleford, Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire GL16 8JR
When: 30 Nov-24 Dec, 10am-4pm. The Christmas Spectacular will remain in place until 31 December
Need to know: Tickets £12.50 per person. Includes present from santa. Book online or call 01594 832535.

Be a-maze-d
This 8ft high snowflake shaped yew tree maze is the largest in Yorkshire and looks even more impressive in winter when it's illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights. Tucked away in the two miles of paths it has plenty of hidden surprises including a castle viewing tower, musical instruments, mysterious sounds and a silver globe.
Where: Stockeld Park, Wetherby, Yorkshire LS22 4AW
When: 15 Dec-7 Jan, 10.30am-8.30pm
Need to know: Family ticket to the maze costs from £30.

Wassail away
Get out your fancy dress, dig out your loud instruments and help scare away evil spirits in Cornwall. Come along to this mini-pagan festival and frighten away the spooks in the orchard to ensure a successful crop in 2019. You can also check out the amazing 60-foot garland made from thousands of flowers grown on the estate.
Where: Cotehele, St Dominick, near Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6TA
When: 22 December, 11.30am-12pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Wear fancy dress and bring a musical instrument. Family ticket costs £17.40. Booking essential on 0344 249 1895.

Festive fairy folk
Enjoy a magical journey filled with fairies, woodland spirits and Old Man Winter as they lead you through the trees in this half theatrical festive adventure, half woodland walk which also includes live music, hot chocolate, face painting and decoration making!
Where: Winter Woods, Tehidy Woods, North Cliffs Entrance, Near Portreath, Cornwall TR14 0HA
When: 8-30 Dec, 1pm, 4pm and 6.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £8.50. Bring a torch, a warm coat and wellies.

It’s a cracker!
Love to hate Christmas cracker jokes? Head for RSPB Dungeness throughout the Christmas holidays to see if you can find the answers to all 12 cracker jokes that have been hidden around the reserve. Pick up an activity sheet from the visitor centre, wrap up warm and head round the nature trail spotting amazing winter wildlife as you go. Find all 12 to win a prize.
Where: RSPB Dungeness, Boulderwall Farm, Dungeness Road, Lydd, Kent, TN29 9PN
When: 15-30 Dec, 10:30am-3pm
Need to know: Trail sheet £1 per child. Entry fee also applies.

Show boating
Want to see a Christmas show with a difference? Then take to the water to watch Mr Rabbit meets Brer Santa performed by hard-carved marionettes in this 55-seat theatre set on a canal barge.
Where: Puppet Theatre Barge, Little Venice, Blomfield Road, London W9 2PF
When: 15-30 Dec, 11am, 3pm, 5pm
Need to know: Adults £13, children £9.

To infinity and beyond
Explore Winchester Science Centre's new immersive zone, Explorer:Space, and embark on an epic journey through the Solar System. The exhibits cover everything from meteorites to stardust, robots to coding, and atmospheric pressure to human space flight! Don't head home until you've taken a Flight Through the Universe in the Planetarium, with a live presenter taking you on a personal tour of space, venturing further than any astronaut or spacecraft has ever been...
Where: Winchester Science Centre, Telegraph Way, Winchester SO21 1HZ
When: Science Centre open as normal 10am - 5pm during the Christmas school holiday period (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Planetarium show times vary.
Need to know: General admission £10; Planetarium show added to General Entry, £3.50.

Art of glass
Get creative at this unique glass workshop in Sunderland. Create a glass snowman or snowy owl using sand to make a mould. Add your own colour and decoration to make your design unique. Watch as your design is transformed by our studio team who will pour molten glass into your mould to produce your own individual piece of festive art.
Where: National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL
When: 27-28 Dec, 3-4, 10-11 Jan, 9.30-10.30am, 10.30-11.30am
Need to know: £16 per person. Pre booking essential.

Christmas at the castle
Take a trip back in time at York Castle Museum and enjoy some festive traditions from yesteryear. Enjoy a stroll down the decorated Victorian street to the sound of carols, make some gingerbread and look at gifts and cards Victorians would have sent.
Where: York Castle Museum, Castle Area, Eye of York, York YO1 9RY
When: Until 31 December, 9.30am-4pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Adults from £13, children £7.

Super snowmen
Get make and doing with these fun workshops in Gloucester and make your own Christmas snowman or print a snowflake decoration. You can also try making some scraper board fireworks and copper embossing too.
Where: Nature in Art, Wallsworth Hall, A38, Twigworth, Gloucester, GL2 9PA
When: 27 & 28 Dec, 3 & 4 Jan, 10.30am-4.30pm
Need to know: £6 per child, accompanying adult free. Call 01452 731422 to book.

Now that’s magic!
Get set for some seasonal show time in Coventry with this new, music-filled Christmas show about friendship and the joy of joining in. Holly, a little girl who plays the trumpet, befriends the magical winter sprite Jack Frost. Together Holly and Jack will make music, create mischief and make sure no-one is left outside this Christmas.
Where: The Civic, Hanson Street, Barnsley, S70 2HZ
When: 17-24 Dec, various times
Need to know: Tickets £12 adult, £8 child

Palace pageant
Visit Henry VIII's magnificent Tudor palace at Hampton Court and spend a day at the court in this interactive Christmas story. It is Christmas 1906 and the Palace’s grace-and-favour residents are preparing for the festive season. They are rehearsing a Christmas play, which will raise funds for a local charity, but all is not going according to plan. Some residents favour a Tudor Christmas, some a Georgian Christmas, and some a Victorian Christmas. Join them in the Great Hall as they rehearse, find out about Christmas traditions, and help them create the ‘Hampton Court Palace Christmas 1906 Pageant’.
Where: Hampton Court Palace, Surrey KT8 9AU
When: 1 Dec-6 Jan 2018, 12 & 2pm
Need to know: Free with admission. A family ticket costs from £40.30 online.

Sculpture spotting
Head to deepest Devon this winter and go art spotting at RHS Rosemoor. Follow the sculpture trail and see how many pieces you can discover - all set against the backdrop of the beautiful winter gardens. When night falls look out for illuminated trail through the trees featuring a range of festive characters including Jack Frost, a winter nymph and a magical stilt walker.
Where: RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH
When: 15 Dec-5 Jan, 10am-8.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £28.

Parlour party
Go time-travelling this festive season and enjoy a real Victorian Christmas at Beaulieu. You can take part in a panto rehearsal in the parlour, join in with a carol around the grand piano, take an illuminated walk through the grounds and enjoy the smell of spices wafting from the Victorian kitchen before crafting a Victorian card or tree decoration to take home with you.
Where: Beaulieu, New Forest, Hampshire SO42 7ZN
When: 16 Dec-6 Jan, 11am-3.30pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket from £49 online.

Tudor tales
Visit Shakespeare's Birthplace this December and see how the Tudors decorated their homes for Christmas. Join the guided tour and see how Shakespeare would have enjoyed Christmas as a boy, then have a free taste of the House Steward’s legendary wassail (alcoholic or and non-alcoholic).
Where: Shakespeare's Birthplace, The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6QW
When: 19-30 December, 12-4pm
Need to know: Most events free with admission. Family ticket from £53.55 online.

Hello goodbye
Say goodbye to 2018 and welcome 2019 with Seven Stories and explore when and how New Year traditions are celebrated all over the world.
Where: Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ
When: 30 and 31 December, 11:30am-12:15pm and 2-2:45pm
Need to know: Event £5 per person. Admission from £23.10 for a family.

Take flight
Santa's reindeer are coming to town in this free creative drop-in for the whole family at The Lightbox. You can also add a bit of sparkle to your New Year's Eve with these creative masks.
Where: The Lightbox, Chobham Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 4AA
When: 21 & 28 Dec, 1.30-4pm
Need to know: Free entry, suggested donation £3

Ahoy me hearties!
Get set to make a splash at the V&A Museum of Childhood with their first exhibition focusing on fictional pirates and their influence in popular culture. Developed with the help of children, the exhibition includes its very own large-scale pirate ship to take visitors into a swashbuckling world of adventure. You'll see toys, games, books, illustrations and comics charting the reimagination of pirates in popular children’s culture from Victorian Britain to the present day – highlights include the first painting of Captain Pugwash, an original illustrated costume design for Captain Hook from 1904, Lego’s iconic Black Seas Barracuda ship and real 18th century Spanish doubloons.
Where: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road London E2 9PA
When: Until 22 April, 11am-4pm
Need to know: Free, drop in.

Christmas present
Join young Oliver Twist on a wild adventure in this festive adaptation of Charles Dickens’ much-loved novel at Hull Truck Theatre, packed with dance and song, including traditional carols, folk tunes and new music. Follow Oliver as he sinks into London’s grimy underworld on his search for a home, a family and love. A story of courage in adversity, Oliver Twist is a classic tale that touches us all, with a large dose of Christmas cheer and festive sparkle!
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, 50 Ferensway, Hull HU2 8LB
When: Until 5 Jan, times vary.
Need to know: Tickets from £10. Call 01482 323638 to book.

Touch of frost
Let your imagination transport you back in time to London's famous Frost Fairs in these interactive storytelling sessions at the Museum of London Docklands. Or be inspired by the history of winter celebration and design your own holiday cards.
Where: Museum of London Docklands, No1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL
When: 21 and 22 December, 1pm, 2pm & 3pm
Need to know: Admission and workshop free.

Bright sparks!
Explore how digital technology and mechanical machines interact to make mind-blowing patterns in this brand new exhibition at Halifax’s Eureka!. Have a go at creating colourful and crazy light shapes, using pedal bikes to generate vivid patterns, experimenting with a giant kaleidoscope, controlling beams of light to create glowing geometric shapes and using torches and glow-sticks to make an enormous light painting.
Where: Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE
When: Until 1 June 2019, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Adults £12.95, children £12.95.

Walking in a winter wonderland
Warm your cockles this Christmas at London Southbank's magical Winter when it transforms into a festive landscape complete with twinkling lights, Alpine igloos and festive forest. Two brand new family shows are at the heart of this year’s programme: the award-winning puppeteers from War Horse present the European premiere of Circus 1903, fresh from the Paris Theatre in Las Vegas, and award-winning Australian theatre companies Windmill Theatre Co and State Theatre Company South Australia perform the UK premiere of their unique spin on the fantastic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin.
When: 9 November-6 January, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Free admission. Times and prices of shows vary.

Festive farm
A traditional Christmas awaits at Temple Newsam Estate in Yorkshire this holiday. Visit Home Farm and get warm by the fire in the joiner's shop, before letting your creativity run wild with some Christmas crafts including crafting a Christmas wreath using natural materials from the estate. Enjoy live performances by carol singers, musicians and dancers, check out the festive feasts enjoyed by residents of Temple Newsam's past, see the gifts, play games, dress up and join the quest to hunt down presents for Arthur the Elf.
What: Temple Newsam House and Estate! Newsam Road, Off Selby Rd, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE
When: 22-23 Dec, 10am-4pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket costs £24.

Seasonal smuggling
Find out more about the dangerous world of smuggling and contraband goods in these events and activities. Whether they involve tracking down suspicious packages full of contraband goods, investigating the taxing world of tax or protecting endangered species, all of these events are based on the 'Seized! The Border and Customs uncovered' gallery.
Where: Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 4AQ
When: 4-5 January, 1-4pm
Need to know: Free

Full of beans
The sky's the limit in this uplifting, anarchic fairy tale adventure at Luton Library Theatre. Full House Theatre returns with a family story that guarantees to leave audiences young and old bursting with festive cheer. Join Jack for an amazing adventure filled with magic beans, giants and boys who won’t stay in the corner.
Where: Luton Library Theatre, Luton Central Library, St George’s Square, Luton LU1 2NG
When: Until 24 Dec, shows from 10.15am to 6.30pm
Need to know: Tickets from £10.50.

All hands on deck!
Attention all crew members! HMS Belfast has hit a mine! Have you got what it takes to tackle this immersive escape room challenge? Hunt for clues and complete a series of damage control challenges as you race against the clock to save one of Europe’s greatest historic ships.                               
31 Dec-6 Jan & 16-24 Jan, 10.15am-5.05pm.
Where: Damage Control! HMS Belfast, The Queen's Walk, London, SE1 2JH
Need to know: £94 for a group of up to 6 players. Includes entry to HMS Belfast.                                            

Absolutely Marvel-lous
Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N comes to London this winter! The highly anticipated multi-room experience is an acronym for Science Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network, where guests will step inside the popular films and become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline. Fans will get the opportunity to interact with props and characters straight from the big screen, whether it’s trying to lift Thor’s hammer or taking a sneaky peek at Bruce Banner's Lab.                            
Until 31 March, Mon-Sun, opening times vary.
Where: ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL
Need to know: Family ticket from £15 per person.

Walking in the Air
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs’ beloved picture book The Snowman, Brighton Museum is holding a magical exhibition featuring original illustrations and hand-drawn cels from the 1982 film. Children’s author Michael Morpurgo has reimagined Raymond Briggs’ original tale as a chapter book with illustrations by Robin Shaw and one-off Snowman-inspired individual artworks created by nine leading children’s’ books illustrators including Quentin Blake, Chris Riddell and Shirley Hughes are also on display.
When: Until 6 Jan. 10am-5pm, closed Mondays.
Where: Brighton Museum, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton BN1 1EE
Need to know: Free with admission to Brighton Museum, family ticket £13.40

Festive Falconry
Witness graceful hawks and glorious falcons in flight at Framlingham Castle as expert falconers demonstrate the art of training, exercising and hunting with birds. Hear how food was caught for the Christmas dinner table whilst these amazing creatures swoop overhead.
Where: Framlingham Castle, Church Street, Framlingham, IP13 9BP
When: 27-28 Dec, 11am-3pm.
Need to know: Family ticket £30.70

Purr-fect day out
Celebrate cats and their capers at The British Library with their new exhibition Cats on the Page. Exuberant and playful or mysterious and threatening, cats come to life in books, manuscripts and artwork to captivate and inspire. Renew your acquaintance with familiar favourites including Mog, Winnie and Wilbur, and T S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, as well as meeting some new friends from around the world. 
Where: British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
When: Until 17 March. Times vary
Need to know: Free

Animal crackers
The brand new stage production of Doctor Dolittle, with its stunning puppetry, is at The Lowry in Salford this Christmas, before touring around the UK in 2019. Helped by an exotic menagerie of animal friends, Doctor Doliitle embarks on an extraordinary adventure to find the Giant Pink Sea Snail that holds the secret of life and makes the world a happier place.
Where: The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ
When: 11 December – 5 January 2019
Need to know: Tickets from £16. Booking essential.

Tale as old as time…
Go on a journey with the The Customs House in South Shields to the land of Cooksonville, where stands a palace. In that palace lives a Beast, who was once a handsome Prince, now cursed to live unloved and feared. His faithful entourage, half human, half object, await the unknown Beauty, who will set their Master and themselves free. Could Dame Bella be that Beauty? There's time until the last petal falls to find out…
Where: The Customs House, Mill Dam, South Shields, NE33 1ES
When: Until 5 January, 9.45am, 1.30pm & 6.30pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £9.99. £2.50 booking fee online.

Naval Nöel
Discover how the Royal Navy celebrated Christmas during wartime as you go onboard HMS M.33 in Portsmouth. Join the service men and women as they take you back to yesteryear and experience life on-board during the holiday season. Find out what they eat for their Christmas feast, how they spread the seasonal cheer and hear them carolling.
Where: HMS M.33, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Visitor Centre, Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3LJ
When: 23-30 December, 10.30am-5pm
Need to know: Event free with admission. Family ticket to all attractions at the Dockyard costs from £68.

Pagan processions
Celebrate the winter solstice at the Chilterns Gateway Centre this holiday, complete with carols, mince pies and a cup of wassail. Follow the procession led by the Morris dancers and musicians before enjoying a traditional mummers play about the battle of the Holly and the Oak King.
Where: Chiltern Gateway Centre, Dunstable Downs, Whipsnade Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2GY
When: 21 December, 6-8pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Adult ticket costs £15, child ticket £7.50.

Elf yourself
In Finland they have tonttu, the Swedes call them tomte and Norwegians love their nisse; Christmas elves come in many forms. See if you can find them hiding around Gloucester’s National Waterways Museum in their new Christmas trail. They could be anywhere: peeping from behind vintage engines, hiding in the sweet-smelling chocolate crumb churns or making themselves at home in a narrow boat. Find them all and claim a prize, taking photos along the away at the museum’s designated s-elfie spots.
Where: National Waterways Museum Gloucester, Llanthony Warehouse, Gloucester Docks, Gloucester GL1 2EH
When: 1-30 Dec, 10am-4pm, Tue to Sun. Closed Christmas and Boxing Day.
Need to know: Events free with admission. Free entry with a purchase from the shop or Tea Room (no minimum spend).

The car's the star
Wrap up Christmas and get ready for the New Year at Coventry Transport Museum with some fun family crafts. You can transform wrapping paper, Christmas cards and a selection of surprise materials into amazing gifts that you can use throughout the year!
Where: Coventry Transport Museum, Millennium Place, Hales Street, Coventry CV1 1JD
When: 27-29 Dec & 31 Dec, 10.30am-3.30pm.
Need to know: Admission free. Workshops cost £2.50, cash only.

Space is the place
Fill Nottingham Contemporary's gigantic space by printing with natural materials and filling your silhouette with all sorts of shapes and pattern to create a landscape of patterned people.
Where: Nottingham Contemporary, Weekday Cross, Nottingham NG1 2GB
When: 29 Dec-6 Jan, 11am-3pm
Need to know: Free, drop in.

Seasonal science
Put the ‘wonder’ into winter wonderland this Christmas with Newcastle’s Life Science Centre science-themed festive fun! Investigate fake snow in the Experiment Zone, explore the winter night sky in the planetarium before hopping on-board The Polar Express Journey to the North Pole on their 4D Motion Ride. You can also enjoy some festive storytelling or get stuck into making seasonal creations to take home, including LED decorations and winter lanterns.
Where: Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP
When: Until 7 January, 10am-6pm
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket costs £28.

I should cocoa
This December York’s Chocolate Story will be decking the tours with boughs of holly as Father Christmas himself takes up residence. On your mission to save Christmas, you’ll have a go at some cracking Christmas games, learn festive facts about iconic brands and how chocolate was involved in Christmases past. You’ll also be able to make your own Christmas-themed lollies and watch special festive demonstrations with talented chocolatiers.
Where: York's Chocolate Story, King's Square, York, YO1 7LD
When: Until 24 Dec, 10am–4pm
Need to know: A child ticket costs £14.95, adult £7.50.

Brick man
Be inspired by the buildings featured in London’s Royal Academy Renzo Piano exhibition and get hands-on and create your own architectural masterpieces. You can use drawings and designs on the free table of Lego for ideas, or just follow your imagination.
Where: RA, 6 Burlington Gardens, London, W1S 3ET
When: 27 Dec-1Jan, all day
Need to know: Lego table free. Exhibition £14 adult, under 16s free.

Power pack
Bored of Christmas telly? Travelling a lot over Christmas? Then download a free British Science Week pack to keep you and your family stimulated over the festive season. Themed around ‘journeys’, each activity pack provides easy-to-do, hands-on activities that range from creating tunnels, time capsules and perfume to keeping a nature log and even mummifying an orange!
When: Available on the British Science Week website.
Need to know: Free to download. Packs for early years, primary and secondary.

Blast off!
Bring your dreams and imaginations and join the Tate Exchange this winter holiday for a story bonanza for all ages. Taking inspiration from BLAST OFF – a 1973 pioneering children’s book about a young black girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut – you can create your own stories using images or words, turn old stories into new sculptural creations or listen to readings by fantastic story-tellers at story time.
Where: Tate Exchange, Blavatnik Building, Level 5, Bankside London SE1 9TG
When: 19-23, 27-30 Dec, 12-5pm
Need to know: Free. Drop-in.

Picture perfect
Get ready to be Seen & Heard, an exhibition at the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Art Gallery which features 50 Victorian paintings of children from the Gallery’s own collection as well as pieces loaned by Tate Britain and Royal Academy. The exhibition looks at the changing role of children in Victorian Britain, seen in paintings and heard in society for the first time, playing and with their families.
Where: Guildhall Art Galley, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AE
When: Until 28 April 2019
Need to know: £8 per person, under 12s free.

Carnival capers
Head for the heart of London’s theatreland for this high-energy super fun daytime variety / burlesque / cabaret show for all the family from the Briefs family. A noisy, fun show for kids who love spectacle, top-notch circus skills, flying acrobatics, edgy dancing, pumping music and cheeky clowning antics.
Where: Brat Kids Carnival, Leicester Square Spiegeltent, Leicester Square Gardens, Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA
When: Until 30 Dec, Sat 11am & 1pm, Sun 1pm, Wed-Fri 3pm.
Need to know: Tickets from £10.75 per person.

Tudor tours
Originally built by Henry VIII in 1539 in a clover leaf design, explore Walmer Castle in full festive glory as it opens for an exclusive Christmas tour. Discover more of the most fascinating aspects of Christmas at this incredible Tudor fortress-by-the-sea, as it would have been in the days of the Lords Warden. Enjoy period Christmas decorations of the Castle's stately rooms, and take in the atmosphere of the season. 
Where: Walmer Castle, Kingsdown Road, Deal, Kent, CT14 7LJ
When: 20 December, 3pm & 6pm
Need to know: Events free with admission. Family ticket from £38.

Christmas holidays 2018 family activities in Wales

Seriously Scrooge
Find some alternative presents, make Christmas decorations with the help of chemistry and get a crash course in untangling Christmas lights with A Techniquest Christmas Carol - a fun live science show for all the family!
Where: Techniquest, Stuart Street, Cardiff, CF10 5BW
When: 22 Dec-6 Jan, 10am-4pm. Show times vary.
Need to know: Free with admission. Family ticket from £25 online, under 4s go free.

Toys story
Turn back time and discover what Christmas was like 100 years ago at Erddig this December. Find the Yorke family toys hiding in the 12.5 acre walled gardens with the winter toy trail (don’t forget your teddy!) and then warm yourself by the fire with the scents of mulled wine and festive cooking filling the air. You can also design your own Christmas centrepiece using plants from the gardens at a crafty drop-in workshop and visit Father Christmas in the reverse grotto, where you bring along a donation for the local food bank.
Where: Erddig, Wrexham, LL13 0YT
When: 1 Dec-6 Jan, 10-4pm.
Need to know: Family ticket from £15.75. Events free with admission except centrepiece workshop (£3).

What a hoot!
Celebrate the festive season at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Catch some amazing contemporary crafts at the Makers Guild Wales Christmas Show and watch the fantastic Christmas Owl Show, including flying owl displays, festive music and games, and even a Santa Owl!
Where: National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthney, Carmarthenshire SA32 8HN
When: 5-23 Dec, 1pm-1.45pm
Need to know: Family admission from £22.73. Owl Show £3.50 per person, which includes entry to the British Birds of Prey Centre and more flying displays.

Shining bright
Come to Caerphilly for its annual River of Light parade, a fabulous festive procession through the town centre, followed by a giant firework display above the skies of Caerphilly Castle. You’ll be accompanied by dancers and jazz bands, creating a sea of colour through the town. Bring your lantern along and take part in this annual event!
Where: The parade starts at Caerphilly Train & Bus Station Park & Ride, then flows through the town to the rear of Caerphilly Castle (Crescent Road)
When: Thursday 20 December, starting at 6.30pm.
Need to know: Free event.

All Mine!
Go full steam ahead for Santa’s Toy Mine as it makes a welcome return to the Welsh Mining Experience at the Rhondda Heritage Park. Take a magical journey through the beautifully decorated toy mine, sweet mine and ice cave before ending up at Santa’s front door and receiving a gift from the man himself! There’s also a teddy bear making workshop and Xmas shop too!
Where: The Welsh Mining Experience, Rhondda Heritage Park, Lewis Merthyr Colliery, Coed Cae Rd, Trehafod, CF37 2NP
When: 24 Nov-24 Dec, 4-6pm, 19-24 Dec, 11am-8pm
Need to know: Costs from £7.95 adult, £11.95 child. Teddy workshop extra.

House party
Get into the Christmas spirit at Tredegar House this winter as it celebrates Christmas traditions past and future. There’s pomander making, lace gifts and paper chains galore and find out more about the Twelfth Night masquerade balls held at the House. Don’t forget to hang a wish on the magical wish tree and enjoy a singalong in the New Parlour.                        
Tredegar House, Pencarn Way, Newport, NP10 8YW
When: 19-22 Dec, 10am-3pm.
Need to know: Family ticket from £23.50. Festive activities included in admission.

Get bird brained!
Find out how birds keep warm and dry in wetland winters with the Wildfowl Wonders workshop at Llanelli, join a friendly guide to identify different bird species, make some Christmas crafts and even feed the birds with Santa!
Where: Llanelli Wetland Centre, Canolfan Llanelli Centre, Penclacwydd, Llwynhendy, Llanelli, Dyfed SA14 9SH
When: Every day in the Christmas holidays, 11am-12 noon, (Wildfowl Wonders workshop). 1-1.45pm (guide) 2.30pm (crafts). Feed the birds with Santa runs every Sunday in December at 2.45pm.
Need to know: Family ticket from £23.95 online. Small cost for craft activities.

Ticket to Ride
Get set to board Santa’s Magical Steam Train at the Gwili Railway in Wales. Ride the steam train all the way from Bronwydd Arms Station to Santa’s Grotto at Llwyfan Cerrig Station where you can enjoy some seasonal refreshments and visit Santa in his grotto and get a goody bag to take home (if you’ve been good).
Where: Gwili Railway, Bronwydd Arms Station, Bronwydd Arms, Carmarthenshire, SA33 6HT.
When: 22, 23 and 24 Dec, 10am-3.15pm, except Xmas Eve, ending at 1.30PM.
Need to know: Adult £12.95, child £9.50, babies under 12 months are £6

Christmas holidays 2018 family activities in Scotland

Illuminating ideas
The Giant Lanterns of China return to Edinburgh Zoo this Christmas, bringing Scottish myths, ancient Chinese legends and incredible creatures to life. Escape into a world of folktales and fantasy with over 450 beautifully crafted lanterns lighting a magical trail through the Zoo. See if you can spot unicorns, giants, kelpies and even the Loch Ness Monster, alongside animals past and present. There are also performances by Chinese artists, handmade crafts from Chinese artisans in the festive marketplace and seasonal hot drinks and snacks to keep you warm.                                                
Where: Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh EH12 6TS                                                     
When: Until 17 Feb, 4.45-8.45pm.                                                                                                             
Need to know: Adult ticket from £18, child ticket £9 online. Ticket not valid in daylight hours.                 

Oh deer
Take a hill walk in the Highlands and meet Britain's only free-range reindeer herd. You can hand-feed and pet the magnificent animals while taking in the natural surroundings. Afterwards, head back down the mountain to the paddocks, where you can explore Santa’s Bothy and the Elves’ House to complete a quiz and festive crafting activities.
Where: Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, Glenmore, Aviemore, Inverness-shire, PH22 1QU
When: Until 7 January, 10am-5pm, hill visits at 11am in winter.
Need to know: Hill visit costs £15 adults, £9 children, Paddock visits £3.50 adults, £2.50 children. Weather permitting,

Deck the Halls
Back by popular demand, Dominic Hill's bold, theatrical adaptation of A Christmas Carol returns to Glasgow’s Tramway. The 5-star production captures the original heart of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale with inventive storytelling, atmospheric set design and live music.                                                 
Where: Tramway, 25 Albert Drive, Glasgow G41 2PE
When: Until 6 January, times vary.
Need to know: Adult tickets from £15, Child tickets from £9.

Water way to travel!
Santa will be making waves this December at The Falkirk Wheel – so get on board for a magical boat trip complete with Christmas activities and singing and dancing with the Elves before meeting the big man himself.
Where: The Falkirk Wheel, Lime Rd, Tamfourhill, Falkirk FK1 4RS
When: 15-16, 21-24 Dec, Hourly trips from 12.30-6.30pm, except Xmas Eve. (Last trip at 4.30pm.)
Need to know: Tickets £13.95 per person and includes gift. Weather permitting.                               

Food, glorious food
Explore amazing nutritional facts at Aberdeen Science Centre this winter holiday. Using hands on activities and interactive shows, you’ll be encouraged to play with your food to find out how a balanced diet can keep your body and mind healthy. Find out how your body works and look at what’s inside, then discover how to make the perfect poo through an interactive demonstration!
Where: Aberdeen Science Centre, 107 George Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1HU
When: Until 3 March, open 10am-5pm during school holidays.
Need to know: Family ticket from £19.50. Activities included in admission price.

Boy wonder
Take to the skies with Wendy and Peter Pan at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre. Soar into Neverland as they take on Captain Hook in a new adaptation of this beloved family classic filled with sword fights and pirates and sprinkled with fairy dust – all you have to do is believe!
Where: Royal Lyecum Theatre Edinburgh, 30b Grindlay St, Edinburgh, EH3 9AX.
When: Until 5 January, times vary.                                                                                      
Need to know: Adult tickets from £20 and child tickets from £10.                                                                          

Little Helpers
Join the elves at their busiest time of year as they prepare for Christmas at Newhailes House and Gardens near Musselburgh. Learn how to be a good elf and make some festive crafts before graduating from Elf School with a treat and a certificate – presented by a special visitor!
Where: Newhailes Visitors Centre, Newhailes Road, Musselburgh, East Lothian, EH21 6RY
When: 8-16 & 22-23 Dec, 11am-1.30 am (8-16) 11.30am-1.30am (22-23)
Need to know: Elf school £8 per child.

Christmas holidays 2018 family activities in Northern Ireland

Oh help, oh no  it's a Gruffalo
What: For a truly terrifying Christmas with a difference, head to Colin Glen Forest Park this holiday. Enjoy a story-telling session of The Gruffalo's Child or Stick Man before hunting through the forest to find all the characters. Then make some Christmas art and get your official 'I have met the Gruffalo' certificate and sticker before meeting Santa and receiving a gift.
Where: Colin Glen Forest Park, 163 Stewartstown Road, Belfast BT17 0HW
When: Until 21 Dec, Mon-Fri & Sun: 10am, 12noon and 2pm; Sat: 11am, 1pm and 3pm
Need to know: £10 per child (includes present).

Christmas Past
Leave the hustle and bustle of the high street behind this festive season and step back in time to Ballycultra where you’ll experience the magic of a truly traditional Christmas from 100 years ago. As the holly and ivy wreaths are hung on the doors, you can take in the sights, sounds and seasonal smells of cinnamon toast and breads freshly baked over the open hearth, and see some traditional crafts as costumed guides share past times and tales from years gone by.                                
Where: Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, 153 Bangor Road, Cultra, Holywood, BT18 0EU
When: 14, 15, 16 and 21 Dec, times vary.
Need to know: Adult tickets £11, child tickets £6. Available on the door

Titanic excitement
Step through the Old Curiosity Shop to enter the Magical Workshop and watch the excitement unfold as Father Christmas and his elves count down to their favourite night of the year! Peek into the toy shop where the elves have been hard at work and join Mrs Claus at her cosy kitchen to hear Christmas tales, before letting your creative juices flow with some arts and crafts or get the elves to write and post your Christmas letter! You can also make a Christmas Wish to hang on the Magical Wishing Tree or check your position on the ‘naughty or nice’ list with the Chief Elf!
Where: Titanic Belfast, 1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9EP
When: Until 23 Dec, 10am-7.30pm
Need to know: Tickets £16 child, adults £5.

Rescue Rudolph
Enjoy a magical adventure at Castle Espie Wetland Centre this holiday, with Christmas crafts and a mission help find Santa’s missing reindeer dotted around the reserve. You can also enjoy festive storytelling and toasted marshmallows in the Crannog, and explore the Elves’ Workshop before meeting Santa Claus.
Where: Castle Espie Wetland Centre, 78 Ballydrain Road, Comber, Co Down, N Ireland BT23 6EA
When: Storytelling & Santa until 23 Dec, 10am-4.30pm. Reindeer trail & Christmas crafts daily. 
Need to know: For Santa visits, book on 028 9187 4146. Children £14.50 (includes gift from Santa), Adults £8. Normal admission is £21.63 for a family ticket.

Prickly Prince
At the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, the Banyan Theatre have spun a tale bursting with magic and enchantment: a boy bewitched, a giant cockerel, a king lost in a forest and a promise never to be broken. Based on a traditional folktale the play uses puppetry, object theatre and original music to enchant young and old alike. There’s also seasonal family activities including face painters and creative crafts.
Where: The Hedgehog Prince, Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre, 24 Main Street, Limavady, BT49 0FJ
When: Saturday 22 December, 1pm
Need to know: Tickets £3 per person.