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9 places to visit this festive period in the North/North West of England

Written by: Elmtree Press


Whether you love a storybook Christmas or you are more of a Bah Humbug sort of person, there are plenty of places for small and big children to visit this Christmas period.  So if you are in Yorkshire,  Northumberland,  Cheshire,  Manchester or Liverpool,  why not pop along to one of these fantastic places - and you may learn a thing or two!

Lightwater Valley, Ripon

Alice In Winterland At Lightwater Valley this Christmas.

Discover a fantastical family-friendly festive trail at Lightwater Valley this Christmas with the enchanting Alice in Winterland (Selected dates from Friday 22nd November – Monday 30th December). Embark on a magical journey to meet the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and, of course, Alice herself on their amazing adventure. Hundreds of giant illuminated sculptures will illustrate stories from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Discover a giant chess board, watch the Mad Hatter prepare for his crazy tea party, marvel at the four-metre tall Alice lantern and come face to face with the infamous Queen herself.  

Visitors of all ages can follow the luminous trail and immerse themselves in a glowing garden with massive mushrooms, illuminated tulips and even a flamingo or two as the evening becomes curiouser and curiouser…Families can also enjoy some traditional fairground fun including a spin on the carousel and take to the night sky on the Skyrider. For little ones the Indoor Play Area and Young Fun Rides will be open, to entertain guests of all ages. Food and drink will be on offer and guests can indulge in a seasonal glass of something tasty whilst enjoying the light experience.

Nearby Ripon is believed to have been a major influence on Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story. The author’s father was the canon of Ripon Cathedral and carved figures resembling the Mad Hatter and Alice, with which Carroll would have been familiar, have been discovered on several of its choir stalls. Alice in Winterland will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 22nd November – 15 December and then on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 20th December to 30th December. Doors open at 4pm with last entry at 7pm.  

For details and to book visit www.lightwatervalley.co.uk 


North York Moors Railway

Whitby Winter Excursions – Sunday 29 Dec 2019 and Wednesday 1 Jan 2020

Once again, North York Moors Railway will be running special steam hauled excursions to Whitby. So why not enjoy a Winter's day out from Pickering and blow the cobwebs away at the seaside, or perhaps work off some of that Christmas pudding with a brisk walk in the fresh Whitby air. These pre-booked services depart from Pickering Station and traverse the North York Moors National Park to Whitby. Here you will have just over 2 hours to spend in the town before the steam hauled service departs from Whitby Station.

Excursion Tickets: Adult £35, Child £17.50, Dog £3

Members Offer: Adult £30, Child £15, Dog Free - To book call Customer Services on 01751 472508  with your Membership Number. (Office Open Mon to Fri 0930 - 1630).


The Forbidden Corner, Middleham, Leyburn

The Forbidden Corner is a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created within a four-acre garden in the heart of Tupgill Park and the Yorkshire Dales. A tourist visitor attraction unlike anywhere that you have been before, ideal for the adventurers and those young at heart!

Santa will be visiting Forbidden Corner every Sunday in December leading up to Christmas. All Children visiting will get a free gift from Santa and under 4s are £3.50.


York’s Chocolate Story

Santa’s Sweet Adventure - 23 Nov - 24 Dec 19  - York’s greatest Santa adventure returns for 2019. Rated as one of the UK’s best Santa experiences in The Sun newspaper, tickets have now launched for this highly acclaimed tour.

This festive season (23rd November -24th December), York’s Chocolate Story will deck the tours with boughs of holly! All three floors will have a festive make-over as Father Christmas himself takes up residence. Guests will be able to meet Santa on special themed tours, in which they will complete a mission to help him save Christmas! Filled with festive fun, children will experience cracking Christmas games, discover incredible seasonal secrets, as well of course as meeting the big man – Santa himself!

On the way, families can learn festive facts about iconic brands and how chocolate was involved in Christmases past. There will be an opportunity to make their own Christmas-themed lollies and watch special festive demonstrations with talented chocolatiers.

Normal tours will still be taking place throughout the Christmas period.

Price of entry, includes:

• Meeting with Santa • Christmas games • Commemorative photo • Festive chocolate making activity

Child: £17.50,  Child Under 4 years old: £6.00,  Adult: £9:50


Piece Hall

Head to The Piece Hall for a Christmas experience like no-other, it’s a must-visit destination this festive season as it hosts a spectacular programme of festive events for all the family.  The courtyard transforms into a winter wonderland set against the beautiful backdrop of this stunning Georgian building and you can also find a treasure trove of independent shops offering locally made gifts and enjoy a range of special festive menus at the many cafés, bars and restaurants.

This Christmas schools can enjoy Victorian Christmas Workshops at The Piece Hall between the 1st – 20th December.  From stepping back in time with interactive guided tours on Victorian Christmas or special festive workshops in the Salon Perdu creating crackers and candies or festive foam stockings, throw in a visit to the carousel* and there’s plenty to fill all ages with seasonal spirit.    *a ride on the carousel will incur an additional price. 


Science and Industry Museum, Manchester

Winter Holiday Programme - Special Event -  21 December 2019 – 5 January 2020 -  Open 10.00–17.00 daily.  Charges apply for certain activities.    Recommended for all ages.

From aluminium to zirconium, the chemical elements are the building blocks of life, the universe and everything. This winter holiday we're wishing the periodic table a very happy 150th birthday with a look at everything from pasta to planets.  Create your own slime, design a brand new element to put on the periodic table and find out how the the Sun relies on the chemical reactions taking place at its core for its power.  

Soak up the Sun even in the depths of winter with a visit to our major exhibition, experience our thunderous working textile machines, discover early computing with the Manchester Baby and discover the oldest surviving passenger station in the world.  More information will be available soon. To be the first to find out what's happening at the museum, sign up to our newsletter.


The British Music Experience, Liverpool 

Christmas Film Night at The Museum: The Muppet Christmas Carol - 18 Dec 19   Doors at 6pm -  Come join us after hours this Christmas for Film Night at the Museum where we will be showing the Christmas musical classic, The Muppet Christmas Carol.  The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miser extraordinaire. He is held accountable for his dastardly ways during night-time visitations by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and future. Can Scrooge change his ways and regain the Christmas spirit? Certificate U,  1 hr 25 mins,  Please note there are no ads or trailers.   Our museum galleries are closed during film screenings.  Our café bar is open from 5pm, serving hot and cold drinks and a range of festive cakes.  18 Dec 19   Doors at 6pm


Alnwick Castle, Northumbria

Santa Claus is taking a little break from preparing all your presents in the North Pole to pay a very special visit to Alnwick Castle! Join us for a delicious family lunch in The Courtyard Restaurant followed by a visit from the man himself as he presents every child with their first gift of Christmas.  New date added due to popular demand

*** Sunday 1st December 2019 ***

MAIN COURSE -  Northumbrian Roast Turkey with all the trimmings,   DESSERT - Gooey Chocolate Brownie  with Vanilla Ice Cream

£18 per Adult,  £15 per Child (under 12yrs),  Under 2's are free.  Gates open at 11:30 AM and lunch is served at 12 PM.  After the meal, each child will have the opportunity to meet Santa and receive a gift, departures approx 3 pm.   To book call 01665 511 082 or email events@alnwickcastle.com.. A non-refundable deposit of £10 per person is required to secure your booking.

Sunday 8th December 2019 - FULLY BOOKED,  Sunday 15th December 2019 - FULLY BOOKED ,  Saturday 21st December 2019 - FULLY BOOKED ,  Sunday 22nd December 2019 - FULLY BOOKED


Tatton Park, Cheshire

There’s no better time to enjoy Tatton Park than at Christmas – and joining us as part of a group makes the experience even more special!  This year there area a host of festive activities to really help everyone get into the Christmas spirit – all available for groups of fifteen or more.   Visitors can start in the stunning winter Gardens – recently voted the ‘Best Garden in the North West’ by readers of Garden News magazine – where you can see the formal gardens, including the Walled Kitchen Gardens and the famous Japanese Garden, in all their winter finery.

There’s then a chance to explore the enchanted Mansion – the magical heart of Tatton Park’s Christmas, with its beautiful decorations inspired by favourite fairy-tale characters. The festive atmosphere continues from the grandeur of the staterooms of the neo-classical Mansion through to the servants' quarters, where guests can get a sense of the work involved in celebrating Christmas throughout Tatton’s history. Group visitors then have the chance to make their own Pomander, a traditional gift made popular in the 18th century that would have been an essential part of Christmas festivities at Tatton over the years.  After exploring the heritage of Tatton Park, guests can relax in the elegant surrounds of the Mansion’s atmospheric Tenants Hall as they are served a fabulous festive afternoon tea. Featuring classic Christmas flavour combinations and homemade mince pies it promises to be a taste sensation!

The Special Group Package featuring entry into the Mansion & Gardens, along with craft activity and afternoon tea is available 26 - 29 November & 3 - 5 December, £26.95pp. 

Group visits just to the Christmas Mansion are available from 26 November – 5 January 2020 and costs £9.50pp.