The best places to visit this winter

christmas santa's grotoWinter can be a problem when it comes to taking the kids out for fun. As well as Christmas looming and kids being rightfully excited by that, there’s also the problem that it’s generally cold and miserable. In the UK, we’re far more used to rainy winters than the magical white ones seen on TV, so it’s wise to have back up options when you make any family plans. But, if you want to make the most of the family offerings during the winter season, bundle everyone up in coats and get going to these special places.

Santa’s Grotto

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Santa’s grotto! Visiting Santa has been a rite of passage for children all the way back to 1879 when Santa’s workshop first came to a department store in Liverpool. These days, you’ll find Santa in a variety of places, whether that’s in a big store, a shopping centre, garden centre or in the middle of a town surrounded by fairy lights. Just remember that not all Santa grotto's and workshops are the same, so you’re best researching online to find the best one in your local area. If you do find a Santa's Groto which looks enticing, you can often come out with a treat or too after visiting Kris Kringle, it may even be some of your children's favourite blind bags or LOL Surprise toys.

Ice Rinks

Safe skating – that’s what we like to see. In the olden days, people used to enjoy skating on frozen lakes, but we all know how dangerous that is. Fortunately, many businesses and towns across the UK have got you covered when it comes to seasonal ice skating. Temporary pop-up rinks can be found in some unusual places, sitting nicely alongside the rinks that operate all year round. The best thing about seasonal ice rinks is that they’re often really good for younger kids and those who aren’t very confident on the ice. Nearly everyone falls over while ice skating, but the younger ones will have more chance of staying on their feet on a smaller rink with fewer people around.
national trust stately homes

Stately Homes

This is a good one for rainy days. Many of the manor houses across the country get a little festive and splash out on sumptuous Christmas experiences and decorations that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. In these locations, it’s as much about the history as the season, so you can be satisfied that you’re offering a little history lesson as well as enjoying the festive feeling this winter. Some of these manor houses take Christmas outdoors too, providing winter woodland experiences and adventures in their parkland. There are so many of these places scattered around the UK that it’s the perfect opportunity to visit one you’ve never thought of before.

Garden Centres

As well as being the location of many Santa’s Grottos across the UK, garden centres are also brilliant places to visit on their merit. Because they don't just have amazing Christmas decorations, accessories and toys, you’ll often find that garden centres really go to town over the Christmas period. That means visiting a garden centre can be the equivalent of visiting a village that has gone Christmas mad. Whether you need to buy anything or not, a trip around the garden centre and maybe a festive cake in the café can make a pleasant afternoon out.

garden centre at Christmas

Family Farms

Farms don’t stop working in the winter, and many of the family farms that open their doors for chick-hatching and sheep-shearing season will also have something up their sleeve for winter. These experiences are often tailored to the individual farm and make the most of something they’re famous for in the local area. Some offer Christmas-themed tours and adventure trails, while others elect for reindeer-themed activities for kids and adults alike. 

Light Railways

There are various small, light and steam railways operating across the UK and many of them make the most of winter to attract families. If you've got young fans of Thomas & Friends, it maybe a great place to take your children for a fun filled adventure recreating their favourite on screen moments. These attractions often get booked up very quickly, especially the bigger ones, so if this is something you might want to do over the festive season, get it booked as soon as possible. Pro tip – keep an eye out on voucher sites to see if you can grab yourself some cheap tickets! 
families on a light railway

Shopping Centres

This might not be your idea of a good time, but there’s no denying that many shopping centres put their all into Christmas. Whether it’s Santa’s Grotto nestling in a corner or an elf workshop waiting to be discovered, a visit to a shopping centre can be a easy way of getting some Christmas cheer.
It’s true, though, that you might end up doing your Christmas shopping at the same time. But, as many shopping centres across the UK have areas you can leave your children while you shop, this idea might end up ticking all the boxes. 


Oh, no, you don’t! Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when many theatres across the country are in full panto season. Pantos are great days out for children thanks to the participatory nature of them and the fact that it doesn’t feel like you’re going to a “real” theatre (that sometimes has bad connotations for children and, for that matter, some adults). However, if panto isn’t your thing, there are theatres, halls and even caves across the UK that offer carol singing, nativities and some activities that might have nothing to do with Santa but are still fun for everyone! Local guides and newspapers can tell you about these, so have a glance through the listings and see if something catches your eye this winter.

 Where are you planning on taking your family this winter? If you have any ideas, we would love to hear in the comments box below...

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  • Rob Owlett on

    Who is Kris Kringle?

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