Looking for family-friendly activities and virtual events to keep the kids happy this Christmas holiday? Read our guide for places to visit and digital events to stream from the sofa…
Things to Do with Children Online and IRL this Christmas
Ice Skating at QUEENS
Celebrate the season in style at QUEENS Skate, Dine and Bowl this December, aiming to lift winter spirits. Returning post-lockdown with a beautifully illuminated ice rink, delicious winter warmer cocktails and festive feasting, QUEENS is London’s very own Neverland. The venue has plenty of Christmas-infused fun for all the family with penguin skate aids to help the little ones and a wide range of skates to suit all sizes.
Book your ice skating session online with a specific starting time (sessions last one hour). Pre-booking costs £11.95 for over 12s, £10.50 for under 12s and £2.75 for skate hire. QUEENS is an over 18s only zone after 8pm. Tickets can be purchased here.
Snuggle up on the sofa with the live-streamed production of The Gruffalo, based on the classic book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Broadcast live from the brand new studios of Tall Stories, the stage adaption will feature an exclusive video intro from author Julia, an afterword from Illustrator Axel, an exciting audience interaction and a free printable activity pack to keep kids entertained from start to finish.
Streaming Friday and Saturday 11 and 12 December, tickets cost £10/£15/£20 per household. Book your tickets online here.
Father Christmas & The Polar Express Storytime
For those missing out on visiting Santa’s grotto this winter, Storystock has been working alongside Father Christmas to ensure the kids can still enjoy the magical experience. Snuggle up in some cosy pyjamas and join the online immersive experience as Father Christmas reads his favourite story, The Polar Express, joined by his naughty little elf who will be creating make some fun decorations. Guests will also receive a downloadable activity pack with a festive drawalong from children’s author Sophy Henn, a delicious hot chocolate recipe from cook Thomasina Miers with plenty of Christmas games, festive music and hilarious jokes from comedian Gyles Brandreth.
Available to stream every Saturday and Sunday throughout December at 5pm (with a special screening on Christmas Eve). Prices are £12.50 for a Standard ticket and £22.50 for a First Class ticket which includes a personalised copy of The Polar Express sent directly to your door. Tickets can be purchased here.
Virtual Santa’s Grotto with Marylebone Village
Father Christmas will stream into homes directly from Lapland this year, as children can enjoy a personalised meet and greet all from the comforts of their own home. Marylebone Village are launching the virtual Santa’s grotto, as part of the ‘Merry Marylebone’ Christmas campaign, ensuring a magical festive experience with fun for all the family.
Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, once a slot is confirmed by the elves – donate to The Hidden Network directly and send proof of donation. The slot will then be confirmed by Santa’s elves for Saturday 28 November.
KidZania Secret Christmas Experience
Keep the festive spirit alive this Christmas with KidZania London and their exclusive Secret Christmas experience. Explore the secret winter wonderland as children need to crack the code for the secret password and find the hidden door to begin. Once inside, kids can celebrate the magical season at Elf School where they will learn how to make toys for children across the world, write their special Christmas cards and letters or create festive baubles to take home and hang on your beautiful Christmas tree. With Christmas cookie decoration masterclasses at Bekha’s Bakery, funky Christmas dance and music classes and a City Christmas parade the kids will be entertained for hours on end. For the first time this year, KidZania have pre-recorded Cinderella the pantomime with a professional cast and creative director from London’s West End – the perfect end to a truly magical day.
5 December – 3 January 2021. Early bird packages priced at £36 per child and £24.80 per adult (if booked before 30 November), with prices then at £45 per child and £31 per adult. All Christmas packages include three hours at KidZania City, entrance to the secret Christmas area for approximately one hour, viewing of the pre-recorded Cinderella and a hot drink and sweet treat for each ticket holder. Tickets can be purchased here.
Christmas at Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens are set to re-open with a magnificent display of Christmas lights for the eight year in a row, as twilight falls and the magic begins. Bring the little ones to see the enchanting winter trail light up for 2020, taking a new route through the beautifully illuminated Rose Garden. Witness the sparkling tunnel of bells, magnificent trees wrapped in lights and the stunning treetop waterfall this winter or take a stroll to the beloved Temperate House immersed in Christmas colour. After walking through the dazzling Tunnel of Light, twinkling with thousands of fairy lights, indulge in delicious festive drinks and hot chocolate as you explore the wonderful gardens.
Open Friday 4 December – Sunday 17 January 2020, 4-10 pm. Standard adult ticket costs £24.50 with family tickets available to purchase. Book online at kew.org
Santa Sleepovers at Legoland Windsor Resort
Join the festive fun this year at Legoland Windsor Resort, with a winter wonderland, dazzling Christmas lights, trees sprinkled with snow and lots of Lego magic. With plenty of activities for the kids to enjoy, this year will include a Duplo puppet pantomime, Lego friends carol singing and an amazing Holiday Harbour lights show featuring a special surprise guest. Although Father Christmas won’t be able to invite anyone into his Lego grotto this year, you can still see him exploring the magical park on his very own festive sleigh as families enjoy the fantastic rides and attractions Legoland has to offer.
Packages include an overnight stay, delicious breakfast, two days access to selected rides and Father Christmas driving his sleigh through the park. Resort Hotel guests also get a Lego-themed family room, character meet and greets, access to Splash water play area and swimming pool and a special Christmas letter and Legoland gift for all children. Book to stay between 4 – 23 December 2020. legolandholidays.co.uk
A Christmas Carol, Old Vic: In Camera
The beloved Christmas tale of Ebenezer Scrooge returns to the Old Vic for it’s fourth year in a row, with a virtual adaption from Jack Thorne that children can enjoy cuddled up at home. This year sees Andrew Lincoln from Love Actually play the main role in the theatre adaptions of Charles Dickens’ timeless novel A Christmas Carol.
12 – 24 December at 1pm and 7pm, tickets at £30 per household. oldvictheatre.com
With travel restrictions still in place this Christmas, we may not be able to travel to the North Pole to visit Father Christmas. But not to fret, you can still visit the magical world of Lapland in the outskirts of London this winter. Bring the kids to help the elves in Santa’s toy factory, decorate gingerbread houses with Mother Christmas in the kitchen and meet the main man himself (socially distanced, of course) and his beloved reindeer that we’ve heard so much about. There will also be ice skating, new food outlets and carol singing performances from the elves themselves. Adults can visit Lapland’s first elven bar Mulberry’s for mulled wine, buttered rum punch and delicious festive cocktails.
Book online at lapland.co.uk
Featured Image: Photo by Toni Cuenca on Unsplash