It’s the most wonderful time of the year (apparently) and while it may not feel that way to a frazzled mum, it sure does to her children. There are myriad attractions across London to get kids even more excited than they already were about Santa’s impending visit, and who are we to ruin their fun? here are our top picks of places to visit this festive season to keep them entertained and to totally wear them out so you get enough time to wrap their presents before settling down with a well deserved mulled wine after sending them to bed!
Take a Husky Sleigh Ride
Get into the festive mood at WWT London Wetland Centre’s wonderful winter weekend on December 6th and 7th. Children will be thrilled to hop aboard for a husky sleigh ride, visit Santa in his magical grotto and meet the reindeer, including baby Rudolph. Head over to the northern pine forest where Father Christmas will be ready to welcome families in his cosy grotto among the trees. You can also meet a family of reindeer, including a six month old baby, and discover more about these delightful animals.
Take a sleigh ride with the huggable huskies, or have a family photo taken with one of the cuddly dogs as a special seasonal souvenir? And on Sundays there are Shire Horse dray rides from 12.00-3pm. By enjoying a festive weekend at the London Wetlands you’re also contributing towards vital conservation work in the UK and around the world. Find out more at www.wwt.org.uk.
Muddy Puddle Fun with Peppa
Head to the Criterion Theatre to join Peppa Pig and all her friends for a fun-packed show. The hugely successful Peppa Pig’s Big Splash will hit the West End for the fifth such consecutive year from December 2nd until January 4th 2015. Peppa fans will squeal with delight as Peppa and her friends rush to fix the leaking nursery roof. They set up a fete to raise the money for Mr Bull to do the repairs. There’s plenty of fun to be had as Peppa, George, Mummy and Daddy Pig, as well as Danny Dog, Pedro Pony and Suzy Sheep put up bunting, run stalls and organise a great day out. There’s also a Champion Puddle Jumping competition judged by Mr Potato where everyone gets wet and Peppa needs to find her Golden Boots. Another all-singing, all-dancing adventure full of songs, games and muddy puddles is guaranteed for all the family.
Take a Winter Walk Through Kew
Spend a magical evening following a glittery, mile-long trail, guided by snowflakes, as you wind your way through the Kew Gardens landscape. French studio design team TILT have created 27 botanically-inspired light installations, which are dotted along the route, and guaranteed to have little ones gasping in delight. The large-scale pieces (the biggest is 12 by 12 meters), designed to give the appearance of fireworks frozen in time, include giant luminous lily-of-the-valleys and light-up thistles. The emphasis of the whole experience is on sparkle, with illuminated fountains, reflective glasshouses and glittering trees. A real winter wonderland! A shimmering tunnel of lights will guide visitors to twinkling holly bushes and Christmas trees. There’s a discount on entry in December, with daytime and evening visits offering plenty of family-friendly attractions including a Victorian carousel and vintage rides, the snowflake grotto, a boutique Christmas market with foodie treats and live festive music.
Have Lunch with Santa at the Rainforest Cafe
The Rainforest Cafe is a unique restaurant in the heart of Piccadilly Circus which brings together the sights and sounds of the jungle with a collection of moving animatronics, waterfalls and tropical fish tanks. Kids love lunching in the heart of the jungle, and this Christmas a special guest has set up camp there – Santa! Book a personalised Grotto experience and you’ll receive a personalised invite from Father Christmas – with a warm welcome from his elves on arrival – as well as a meeting with Father Christmas in his grotto and a gift from the big man himself. Included in the package is a kids two course meal and drink. For more info and to book, call and speak to the Head Elf on 020 7434 3111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
London’s newest and brightest winter market, Winterville in east London’s Victoria Park is free to visit, and offers a wide range of attractions for kids of all ages. Unlike some of the other, more adult-oriented festive fairs found across the capital, Winterville is very much geared up for families and there are loads of programmed activities in a whole area dedicated families in the Kid’s Quarter, including popular traveling arts circus House Of Fairy Tales, as well as a carefully curated bespoke kid’s areas with immersive activities, arts and crafts and a re-imagined Santa’s Grotto. There’s also Winterville’s very own hour-long twist on the classic Robin Hood pantomime. Take a ride on a horse drawn carriage around the park’s lake and pagoda, or stuff yourself silly at the world street food and Christmas markets. There’s also an indoor pub if you manage to leave someone else in charge for half an hour, fairground rides, ice skating and roller disco! Winterville is open from December 2nd to 31st.
Give Christmas a Lego Makeover!
Themed Christmas activities and LEGO building under the watchful eye of Santa’s elves are on the menu at Legoland Windsor this winter. Father Christmas and his elves are parking their sleigh at the resort for a season full of sparkle and festive family fun. You and your little ones can step into Santa’s magical Christmas Land at weekends from November 22nd and every day from Saturday 13 December until Christmas Eve. As well as a visit to Father Christmas, there’s a free LEGO® gift for every child, and the chance to ride eight of Legoland’s famous family friendly rides and attractions. There’s also a gigantic Lego Christmas Tree – measuring a whopping 8 metres high! Christmas tickets start at £25 including all activities and Father Christmas visit. Also, as keeping Christmas presents a secret from the kids can be a real challenge, the on-site is making it easier with a special Secret Shopping Service. Anyone stocking up on goodies during their visit to the park can keep the kids in the dark with a simple password. On hearing the word Rudolph staff in any of the shops will jump into action and help mums and dads keep their purchases under wraps. And staff will be running a range of diversionary activities to keep the kids occupied while parents buy presents in peace!
Wherever you go, whatever you do, have a great Christmas with the kiddies, and let Belle know what you enjoyed the most!