November is upon us and Jack Frost is definitely nipping at out toes, which means we can legitimately start booking up festive days out with the family, without getting disapproving shakes of the head!
Yes, there are some places that are even booked up by the end of summer, but for those of you who are looking for a family-friendly Christmas event, I thought I’d put together 10 of our favourites in and around Leicestershire (and beyond!), that you can still get booked onto, whether you’re looking for snuggles with Santa or a wintry adventure with a difference!
Disclaimer: Full review of some of these events coming soon. Even where we have very kindly been gifted tickets for these events this Christmas, we have visited all of these places within the past year and genuinely enjoyed every one of them.
1. Winter Wonderland, Tamworth Snowdome
We visited Winter Wonderland last year and already can’t wait to head back this year, purely because it transforms you into a magical winter wonderland with sledging and playtime in real snow, a fantastic show with Santa, and then the chance to visit Santa’s village with carousel, letter-writing and real animals.
Lily absolutely loved playing in the snow last year, being pulled around on sledges, sliding on tubes, catching snowballs, and then settling down to watch the fantastic interactive Christmas show. We wont spoil the fun, but they promise it will be even bigger this year too.
Full review coming soon, but I definitely recommend it, especially as it is a chance to have a fantastic family festive day out and experience a Christmas wonderland, without having to meet Santa himself. With the real snow, twinkling lights, Christmas show and festive magic, this is one not to miss!
2. Charnwood Forest Alpacaas – Reinpaca Walk
If you want a festive experience with a difference, I can’t recommend the Reinpaca Walks enough at Charnwood Forest Alpacas.
Last year, we did a 90 minute experience, where you get to walk your own Reinpaca (alpaca with reindeer antlers) and learn all about these amazing animals, before enjoying a wonderful treat in their Chilli Bean Cafe.
We walked the alpacas for around an hour, across the beautiful countryside, with a stop in the woods for photos and to give the alpacas a little treat. The alpacas all have their own individual names and personalities, and the staff are all so friendly to all their visitors.
For younger visitors, they also have a Nativity experience with the alpacas, where you can enjoy the nativity in their festive barn and meet the alpacas too – an animal that can’t help but make you smile!
Find out more about our visits to Pukka Pacas here, but I really recommend the Reinpaca Walk for a truly unique festive experience.
3. North Pole Adventure, National Forest Adventure Farm
We love all the events at the National Forest Adventure Farm, as well as everything on the farm to do all year round (check out our review here), so are just beyond excited to see the North Pole Adventure.
Children are given a personalised ticket from Santa before collecting special Elf Coins and embarking on the North Pole Adventure, where you journey through the North Pole, visit the Victorian High Street & Sweet Shop, help the elves sort the parcels, decorate gingerbread men with Mother Christmas, and so much more.
You also get to meet Santa himself and get a gift. The whole experience lasts 1hour 45mins and you also get access to all the amazing activities at the National Forest Adventure Farm too. We really love visiting here and there is always something to do, whatever the weather, so I know the North Pole Adventure will be a fun day out for all the family.
4. The Christmas Experience at West Lodge Farm Park
I don’t think I could be more excited for this if I tried! The whole Christmas Experience sounds such a truly magical adventure for all the family, while also allowing you access to the farm park too for the rest of the day (check out our Farm Park review here).
West Lodge Farm Park are promising to take you on a magical Christmas adventure, where you can collect your Christmas passport, enjoy the twinkly wood with your magical glasses, and enter the Christmas Village where you can make some reindeer food and a special card.
You will visit Elf School and then Father Christmas in his magical grotto, before being given a special token to choose a toy from the toy shop. Although this is in a group, you can still get individual photos with Santa.
There will be a nativity with real animals from the Farm Park, as well as festive food available in their lovely cafes. It sounds a truly magical experience, and we can’t wait to head down on December 1st!
5. Gullivers Land, Milton Keynes
We are huge fans of Gullivers Land & Gullivers Kingdom, and so seeing Christmas at Gullivers Kingdom would be an absolute dream (check out our review of Gullivers Land here)!
I don’t know where to start on sharing the packages available as there are so many different options, whether you’re looking for a mid-week day out with toddlers, or a weekend away for all the family.
Throughout the festive season there are festive rides (both indoors and outdoors), seasonal decorations, Christmas shows, a Winter Wonderland, as well as options of breakfast or other meals to add on… and a visit to the Big Man himself.
We absolutely loved the Adventurer’s Village when we stayed there – themed accommodation and plenty of family-friendly activities. At Christmas you can even enjoy special Santa Sleepover packages including a festive supper, evening entertainment, visiting Santa, and enjoying the festive activities, rides and fireworks too.
We stayed at Adventurers Village on the Stay & Play package, and all the little details were thought of, with some really lovely staff too, so I know everything they have planned at Christmas will be the most magical experience for all the family. For more on Adventurers Village, check out our review here, but I know it will be incredible at Christmas.
6. Tropical Birdland & Fairy Walk
For a truly magical festive experience, with or without a visit to Santa, look no further than the magic of Tropical Birdland, an evening experience to enjoy once the sun has set.
We’ve been every year with Lily, as she is mesmerized by the beautiful fairy walk, with the fairies twinkling in the trees. The whole of Tropical Birdland is transformed, with areas for children to enjoy colouring under cover, festive stalls, games, and of course the famous Fairy Walk.
Visiting Santa is magical in itself, as you grab a lantern, and enjoy the fairy walk through the trees, where you turn up to Santa’s log cabin and are led in with the elves to meet the man himself. He has always been one of the friendliest Santas we’ve ever met, so welcoming and such beautiful toys too.
You can also meet the Snow Queen in her grotto, and enjoy all the other entertainment on offer on the Winter Wonderland nights. This is really an experience not to be missed for all ages. For more photos and information, check out our review here.
7. Christmas Magic at Manor Farm Park & Woodlands
We recently visited the lovely Manor Farm Park & Woodlands (review coming very soon), and are already sold by their special Christmas Magic weekends.
We were really impressed with the farm park and the staff too, so I know this will be a fantastic weekend. With a full festive experience, you get to meet Santa in hid woodland cabin, see and feed the reindeer, and enjoy the live animal Nativity in the Christmas marquee.
You also have the opportunity to write a letter to Santa, before posting it in the woodland postbox, make reindeer food, Christmas toast on the woodland campfire, and even create something in the craft room to take home.
What’s more, you’re still able to experience everything on the Farm Park, such as donkey rides, animal petting and more. If you don’t want to meet Santa, you can still enjoy all the other festive activities as well as the great indoor and outdoor play areas too.
Manor Farm Park are also offering Christmas Afternoon Tea with Santa on selected dates too, with a hot & cold buffet tea, as well as a “personalised” experience for your child by letting them know a fun fact about them before you visit – a really fantastic idea!
8. Leicester City Centre Ice Rink & Santa in the Square
From 5th December until 5th January, Leicester’s Jubilee Square will once again be hosting the amazing real ice rink – and this year they promise it will be even bigger than before, including with an outdoor ice trail!
It is truly a family-friendly experience as there are ride-on aids for kids up to the age of 8 to push around or sit on to enjoy the experience too. They also have quieter sessions for those who prefer a quieter environment, as well as cheaper preview tickets in early December.
What’s more, you can also meet Santa for free from December 7th until 22nd at Santa in the Square at his special grotto in the Leicester Market square.
We also love the Leicester Wheel of Light each year and it is now part of our tradition to visit – a great place to wrap up warm and see the sights and lights of Leicester!
9. The Night Before Christmas, Sundown Adventureland
Sundown Adventureland is a theme park designed with smaller children in mind, and we had a fantastic time when we visited (check out our review here). In fact, when we were there in the midst of a heat wave in July, my 3-year-old was happily lapping the Christmas ride, wondering if we could meet Santa!
The theme park is transformed into a magical Christmas winter wonderland, with plenty of fun festive decorations and on Christmas Spectacular weekends, you can enjoy the Christmas marquee, with dancing bears, real reindeers and the Snow Queen.
Throughout the festive period, you can also enjoy the Night Before Christmas Ride where you climb aboard one of Santa’s sleighs, and journey through the magical forest, before meeting the elves, Mrs Claus, and Santa too.
As well as the rides and play areas , the Market Place will also be transformed, with the promise of smells of roasting chestnuts, and marshmallows dipped in chocolate, as well as non-alcoholic mulled wine, with market stalls selling plenty of Christmas fun.
Christmas as Sundown Adventureland really sounds like a festive experience not to be missed.
10. Thurlaston Garden Centre & Tearoom
There is no hiding how much we love visiting the family-run Thurlaston Garden Centre, and Christmas at Thurlaston is really one not to be missed.
Last year we had breakfast with Santa and met him in his grotto – an experience that actually brought Grandma to tears through its magic! Santa was so friendly, so welcoming, and the grotto was so beautiful.
The breakfast was a great experience too, with activities for the children, seasonal decorations, and beautiful food on offer – along with the fantastic elves as always.
They also host a lovely Christmas craft event where you can meet Santa and the reindeer, as well as pick up beautiful gifts from local businesses and more. If that’s not enough, your dog isn’t left out as they can meet Santa Paws for a gift too!
Whatever you like to do at Christmas and however you like to celebrate, we hope you have a fantastic time this festive season, and sending plenty of love to those who find it a difficult time of year. Let us know what you like to do with the family near you.