For the first few years living in the UK, I found the whole cold winter, dark days, early nights and crazy commercialism of Christmas utterly strange. Four years ago we had our first Christmas back in the Southern Hemisphere, however, and I was surprised to find that I really missed the post card Christmas, the log fires, and mulled wine. A winter Christmas had truly become Christmas the way I like it. This year we’ll be in Australia for Christmas, and there’s quite a bit we’ll be missing out on here in what’s meant to be a very cold winter, so I thought I’d share some of the things that are still on my bucket list for Christmas activities with my girls.
Hogwarts at the Harry Potter Tour is an almost guaranteed hit with kids at Christmas. We visited for the grand opening when Aviya was just 4 days old, and I’d love to go again – specially since they’re doing a whole ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’ thing. The Harry Potter movies are loved by kids of all ages, which makes Hogwarts a perfect place to visit this year. Walking round the castle provides a unique experience and the studio tour provides a fascinating insight into how the films were made. It’s also a great chance to see the props and sets that were used in the film up close.
Legoland is considered one of the very best of all the theme parks in the UK and I’ve written about it and visited it many a time. Ameli has over 100 visits under her belt, and the pass holder bricks to prove it. For her birthday this year we stayed at the Legoland hotel, which was amazing, but we’ve still never made it to one of their seasonal events!
From November 22nd to December 24th, Legoland put on the Bricksmas Express where you and the children can discover a charming Christmas land where fairy lights twinkle, festive food delights and LEGO®bricks are a-plenty. It’ll be awesome, I’m sure and I do wish I could take the girls to Santa’s LEGO grotto.
3. Edinburgh Castle
I’ve only ever had two brief stops in Edinburgh and each time I’ve made a note that I really would love to return with a bit more time on my hands. In the week before Christmas (from the 20th December) you can learn how the famous author Charles Dickens found the inspiration for his book ‘A Christmas Carol’ after his visit to an Edinburgh graveyard – okay maybe more for me than the kids, that one, but I’d love to step back into Victorian England and have a chinwag with the ghost of Christmas past. And top it off with a feast in Jacobite Room. It would certainly be an experience to remember. Whilst it might not have the rides and high tech thrills of a theme park, it does provide a stunning setting to experience Christmas in. The sheer size of the castle and the breath taking surroundings make it a perfect place to visit for kids of all ages.
4. Alton Towers
Alton Towers is another popular theme park in the UK. As a park, Alton Towers are said to be particularly good at catering for younger children. Looking at their Christmas line up, I think there’s so much going on, you’ll have trouble fitting it all in, really, what with meeting your favourite characters at the new CBeebies Land, embarking on a mission of discovery in Sharkbait Reef by SEALIFE and enjoying festive fun on their magical rides.Then there’s lunch at the hotels, a visit to the Wacky Waterpark and of course that very special visit to Santa and his elves in his secret hideaway grotto. I’m sure everyone will sleep well after that day out.
5. Celtic Manor
Celtic Manor is a great alternative to the more obvious places to visit. It’s located in South Wales, and has plenty to offer kids, including the Christmas Kingdom, ice skating and Santa’s grotto. I only heard about Celtic Manor recently, when someone was telling me about their spectacular fireworks display that included live music and entertainment.
When you also take into account beautiful natural surroundings, then Celtic Manor is a great choice of a Christmas break for you and your kids.