Winter wonderlands: 10 family activity days and adventures in the UK
20.11.2023 - 12:07
With the majestic domes of the Royal Pavilion as its backdrop – lit in magical neon colours if you go after dark – this real ice rink is a popular highlight of Brighton’s yuletide offering, and the only one in the UK powered by renewable energy. Families are warmly welcomed, with penguin skate aids available for £5 and a beginners’ rink where young skaters can safely build confidence on the ice. Rinkside, a covered bar and café and outdoor terraced areas offer mulled wine, mince pies, cakes, snacks and a decent children’s menu – and a great place to sit and watch if you don’t want to risk the ice yourself.
Adults and children aged 12 and over £18, concessions £15, 12 and under £14, royalpavilionicerink.co.uk; family room, B&B, from £179, queenshotelbrighton.com
Raymond Briggs’s heartwarming classic picture book is celebrated at Northern Ireland’s royal residence with a daytime trail through its stunning gardens. Families will discover 12 Snowman sculptures, each decorated by a different artist, inspired by The Twelve Days of Christmas. Screenings of the Bafta-winning film adaptation will also be shown at weekends in December and warming hot chocolate will soothe chilly hands in the Weston Pavilion café onsite.
Adults £10, concessions £8, children 5-15 £5, children under 5 free, hrp.org.uk; family room, B&B, from £175, arthurshillsborough.com
Decorated with twinkling lights that lead the way to the revolving globe sculpture at its heart, this snowflake-shaped giant maze – made of 2,000 yew trees all grown in the park – is a focal point of the estate’s Christmas celebrations. The festive adventure continues through the Enchanted Forest playgrounds with Russell the talking tree, a giant teapot slide and an impressive light show around its lake. Children are well catered for in the welcoming Playhive Pizzeria, offering freshly cooked pizza, pasta and jacket potatoes.
Tickets from £15pp, children under 2 free, stockeldpark.co.uk; family room, B&B, from £99, bayhorseinn.co.uk
Heligan reopened its intriguing “lost” gardens to the public in 1990 after decades of neglect, restoring them to a paradise for nature-lovers young and old. Throughout the festive period, stunning lantern installations and a wildlife trail hold a nocturnal magnifying glass to indigenous species from badgers to butterflies, bees, and a joyful family of Tamworth pigs. Workshops where children can create their own handheld lanterns are available to pre-book, and the Heligan shop has a seasonal tasting counter of local produce.
Adults £16.50, concessions from £12.50, children £8.50, children under 5 free; lantern-making workshops £6, heligan.com; family room, B&B, from £190, theshipinnmeva.co.uk
Accompanied by Christmas music, a