06/01/2015 09:42 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Christmas Activities For Kids 2014

James Bryant
Christmas markets, Christmas pantomimes, winter wonderlands and spectacular Christmas lights displays are on around the UK this year, to enthrall children of all ages (and remind worn-out parents of the festive spirit!).

We've enlisted our own elves to come up with the best Christmas days out for families all around the country. Have a look below and see what's happening this Christmas in your local area.

If it's a simple visit with Santa you're after, check out our listings of the best Santa's Grottoes around the country.

Winter Wonderland at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol

The Mall

Where: The Mall, Cribbs Causeway
When: 13 November - 11 January

The Mall, the massive retail park just outside of Bristol, is transforming into a Winter Wonderland this year, complete with enchanting decorations, the south-west's largest ice rink, and miniature train you can ride inside the mall.

Young Frozen fans will especially appreciate the clever spin on the traditional Santa's grotto, which has been turned into a beautifully-illuminated Enchanted Ice Castle. Visitors will be greeted by the ice queen and her fairies before being whisked off to meet the big man himself (£5 entry, included reindeer soft toy).

Cost: prices vary, see website.

Grimm Tales for Young and Old, London

Grimm Tales

Where: The Bargehouse, London South Bank
When: 21 November - 15 February

Suitable for children aged eight and up, this 'immersive fairytale' production of Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales for Young and Old makes for a spellbinding theatrical experience. The once-derelict rooms of the Bargehouse will be transformed into fantastical forests, ruined castles and creepy cottages. Audience members will be guided from room to room, becoming part of the fantasy world as well as spectators.

Cost: £45 adults, £20 children (family ticket £125)

Reindeer in the Cairngorm mountains, Scotland


Where: near Aviemore, Scotland
When: ongoing

Britain's only herd of free-ranging reindeer! After arriving at the Reindeer Centre, you take a short drive following an experienced guide into the Cairngorm Mountains will bring you to the herd, where your kids can walk among the reindeer, pet them and even feed them out of their hands. The animals are docile and friendly creatures, sure to leave your children with a cherished Christmas memory.

If the hill walk seems a bit much, a cheaper ticket lets you visit the centre's own paddock, which will also play host to Santa and his elves over the festive season.

Cost: Family ticket for the trek (two adults and up to three children) £40. Family paddock ticket £12.

Christmas at Pennywell Farm, Devon


Where: Pennywell Farm, nr Buckfastleigh, Devon
When: weekends from 6 December - 24 December

What could be more Christmassy than a Nativity play in front of a real manger, surrounded by real animals? That's what's on offer at Pennywell Farm in Devon this Christmas. Any young visitor can dress up and take part if they want to, or else watch from the audience and join in with the carol-singing.

After the performance, each child will be treated to a visit to Santa's grotto to meet real reindeer and receive a present. In-between performances, a Christmas film screening in the Barnyard Theatre adds to the festive magic, while mince pies and mulled wine are on sale in the café.

Cost: £11.95 per person

Leicester Christmas Festival


Where: Leicester city centre
When: Sunday 16 November

Unlike many other cities, Leicester's Christmas lights switch-on isn't just an evening affair - be it Christmas, Hanukkah or Diwali, these are people who know how to throw a party. The city will be celebrating all day, with a festive market, free entertainment and costumed performers roaming the streets.

As with last year, the Light the Night collective will be illuminating the Cultural Quarter with digital light displays, animations projected onto the city streets, and artistic workshops to intrigue young and old.

Cost: Free

Jack and the Beanstalk, Brighton

Alex Brenner

Where: Brighton Dome, Brighton
When: Thursday 18 - Sunday 21 December

"Not another panto!" we hear you groan, but this seasonal delight at the Brighton Dome is puts a unique spin on the traditional Christmas pantomime.

For one thing, it's a one man show. And you won't see any tacky sets or cackling dames, either. The Lyngo Theatre, which specialises in shows aimed at young children, follows the tradition of Italian fantasy, with poetic imagery, spellbinding stagecraft and a streak of magic in this entrancing production of the classic fairy tale.

Cost: £7 adults, £5 children

The Wood Beneath The World

Lord Whitney

Where: Leeds Town Hall
When: 15 November - 10 January

Deep down in the crypt of Leeds Town Hall, a mysterious forest has been growing for decades, full of strange inhabitants. That's the premise of this immersive adventure experience, which brings together light, sound and live performance to bring the magical woods to life for visitors young and old. At the weekend, Father Christmas will be there to

Cost: from £6, see website

Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum and Mason, London

James Bryant

Where: Somerset House, Central London
When: 11 November - 11 January

'London's favourite ice rink' returns to the glamorous festive setting of Somerset House, in the heart of the city. The Skate School, open select weekends and mornings, offers guidance to learners of all ages, while the Penguin Club adjoining Junior Rink specifically caters to children taking to the ice for the first time.

Cost: tickets from £7.50. See website for details.

Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

Where: Chester Zoo, Cheshire
When: 4-7, 11-14, 18-23 December

Lantern Magic offers children a chance to make their own personalised lantern in the zoo workshop, before heading out for a magical evening visit with the zoo's animal residents. The zoo itself will be decked out in festive style, with Santa and a range of Christmas characters on hand to greet young visitors on their way around.

A higher-priced ticket (see website for details) includes a hot roll and a glass of festive punch to warm you up at the end of your tour.

Cost: £7.99 adults, £6.99 children.

Manchester's Christmas Lights Switch-On


Where: Albert Square, Manchester
When: 7 November, 7.30 pm

Manchester is a serious contender for best Christmas lights switch-on party in the nation. Expect big name guests, fantastic entertainment, great live music and a spectacular fireworks display. The celebrity switcher-onner for this year is yet to be announced, but if last year's guest of honour - X Factor winner James Arthur - is anything to go by, you won't be disappointed!

Cost: free! But queues to get into the square can be enormous, so go early if you want a guaranteed spot in the crowd.

A Pretty Family Christmas, Suffolk

Where: Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo estate, Suffolk
When: every weekend between 16 November and 22 December

Tranmer House, part of the estate which is home to the famous Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial site, is a perfectly preserved memorial to its original owners, the Pretty family. From 16 November, visitors can step back in time in the grand family home, which will be exquisitely decked out for a luxurious 1930s Christmas, with festive choirs on hand to provide extra atmosphere.

Cost: included with normal admission (£8.25 adults, £4.15 children)