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The 10 best UK festive events
Don your Christmas jumper, munch on a mince pie and treat yourself to a glass of mulled wine. Christmas is here, and to celebrate there are all sorts of festive events going on up and down the UK for you to get involved with.
Here’s our top 10:
1. Walk in a winter wonderland: London
Hyde Park hosts London’s truly enchanting ‘Winter Wonderland’ until January 5. Here you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of fairground rides, a fabulous ice skating rink, a magical ice kingdom, Christmas markets and live music. The Winter Wonderland is open from 10am to 10pm every day, but weekday mornings are the best time to bring little ones as you’ll be able to enjoy the children’s rides at a gentle pace.
2. Enjoy a dash Christmas sparkle: Cardiff
December 19 sees Cardiff illuminated with its River of Light Parade. Throughout December, workshops are held where you can make wonderful lanterns for the event, and then enjoy a fabulous firework finale over Caerphilly Castle.
3. Visit the magical Christmas markets: Manchester
Now in their 15th year, the Manchester Christmas markets are spread across nine different locations around the city. You will be able to pick up unique gifts including jewellery, crafts and toys – and as a reward for your hard shopping, you can enjoy a festive nibble and a tipple or two.
4. Experience the Festival of Angels: York
Historic York is atmospheric and magical at the best of times, but on December 14 and 15 it hosts the ‘Festival of Angels’ that sees incredible ice sculptures, stalls and entertainment line the streets of the city.
5. Be bewitched at a festive Hogwarts: London
Harry Potter fans should take a trip to the Warner Bros Studio this Christmas to experience the sets with a festive makeover. See the Great Hall full of Christmas trees topped with ‘malevolent fairies’ and the Hogwarts Castle model covered in snow.
6. Experience a shadow theatre performance: Belfast
Between December 27 and 29, Project 24 is hosting ‘Out of the Shadows’, a shadow theatre festival which showcases performances of children’s stories told through puppetry. Featuring well-known tales such as Aladdin, the Jungle Book, and Alice and the White Rabbit, you can even get involved with post performance workshops. Located on Bangor Seafront, it is a free event, but has limited places. To book go to www.northdown.gov.uk.
7. Hop aboard the Santa train: Edinburgh
While it may not quite be the Polar Express, the Santa Train in Edinburgh will treat families to an exciting ride around the Christmas Tree Maze. The attraction is open Monday to Thursday, 10am to 7.30pm, and Friday to Sunday, 10am to 8.30pm, until Sunday January 5. Tickets cost £4 for both adults and children, though booking in advance online will reward you with a 10% discount.
8. Visit Santa’s Grotto: Liverpool
Hohoho! Head to St George’s Hall, one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings, to experience a magical Santa’s grotto. This interactive Dickensian experience will invite you to jump aboard the Santa Express and travel through Santa’s Workshop and a winter wonderland before meeting the man himself. Each child will receive a gift and actors will bring Dickensian scenes to life.
9. Glide your way through Christmas: Winchester
A magical and romantic Christmas experience awaits at the outdoor ice skating rink with the fabulous Winchester Cathedral as its beautiful backdrop. Open until January 5, there is a ‘tiny tots’ session held Monday to Friday, at 9.45am, until December 14.
There’s also a fantastic Christmas market there, should you need to do some shopping.
10. Go on a Santa Hunt: Birmingham
This exciting adventure invites budding Santa hunters to first make an accessory for seeking out Santa and then head into the woods on an enchanting storytelling walk. On finding the man himself, kids will be able to get a present from Santa in his magical grotto.
Held in Moseley Park on December 21, tickets are £8 per child with proceeds going to the charity that maintains the park.