We all know what Christmas means… an endless ream of consumerism and complete and utter fleecing from your kids. No? You want the fluffy version? Ok sure, let’s go with the season of goodwill and family fun. Better? Sure.
I mean, I’m not being a grinch, I LOVE Christmas, but let’s be honest, it gets really expensive and then there is the pressure to “do things” that are “special events” – usually meaning most places have whacked their prices up, told their staff to don an elf costume and STILL charge you an extra £5-10 for a “Santa experience” where you get a crappy toy your kid will break before they get home. Yet still, here you are googling “what to do in Yorkshire with kids over Christmas” or similar and here I am writing it for myself as much as for you… Who even are we?
We, my friends, are parents at Christmas. Remember when it used to mean a mulled wine with mates after shopping? No me neither.
Anyway, here is a quick crash guide to what is going on around Christmas time in Yorkshire for families. I’ve tried to include places we have been to and loved ourselves that I would recommend personally, I will let you know when that isn’t the case.
1. Christmas at Stockheld Park
We’ve been and we’ve loved Stockeld park for a time now, we always run out of time to stay and have a play or look around, even if we arrive at opening. I think it’s just one of those places! It’s VERY expensive at Christmas. Entry is charged for anyone aged 2+ (ridonkulous) and then the add ons are… well they are £10 for ice skating, a lot of the other activities have started to sell out, but it’s going to be one of those days that is going to cost you in excess of £100 and whilst there are places to eat, no one wants a pack up when it’s -1C outside on a picnic bench. The bonus is there is SO much to do and see and they really go the extra mile. You CAN cut down the price by not doing ice skating and going earlier in Dec, mid week.
2. The Polar Express (NEW for 2019)
I’m including it because it sounds AWESOME but holy fuckballs it is PRICEY. £42 per person over 2 for a premium ticket. YIKES. That being said, if your kids love The Polar Express (or you do, no judgement) then this could be the ultimate Christmas treat. You get standard tickets from £30 so I think the extra £12 for a better seat is probably not worth it unless you want a mug? It’s selling out fast, you can grab tickets here.
3. Christmas at Cannon Hall Farm
Another one that gets fairly pricey with a potential for brekkie or lunch with Santa himself and a workshop with Elves – no point in beating aorund the bush, it’s a pricey one, but we did it a few years ago and it has stuck in my memory. If there is a play farm in the area, we have been to it. No really, throw a few suggestions at me, we have done them all – I have always found weekend’s “relaxing” at home a complete waste of time as I end up more stressed out than ever before, so we do stuff. Included in that is play farms – the irony of paying to go to a farm and coo at sheep when we are basically living in rural North Yorkshire where there is only farm land isn’t lost on me but here we are. Cannon Hall is one of my faves – their animals seemed well cared for and they have LOADS of play areas!
4. Yorkshire’s winter wonderland
Every year this is our tradition, we go ice skating and then split up with some of us sitting in the cafe after approx 30 seconds. Me and Toby, possibly Edith, brave the skates and Adam, my mum and Reuben watch on from safety with a cookie and hot chocolate in hand. After that we go on the fun fair and take a jolly into the designer outlet to build a bear. Its such a positive memory for us and I love every second of it. It’s not that pricey, the fun fair is the most expensive bit so if you are looking to stay under £50, avoid the funfair.
5. Alice in Wonderland illuminations at Lightwater Valley
Ok, not a fan of Lightwater Valley normally – out of all the theme parks I think it’s the slightly grubby cousin that no one really wants to talk to, HOWEVER I loved the Roundhay Park illuminations and this looks very similar but all Alice in Wonderland themed. Our kids LOVED this, it was absolutely freezing when we went to Leeds but crikey it was breathtaking and in lew of them doing it again this year we have this. The ticket you buy is for between 4-8pm, and unlike at Roundhay, you will be able to access a portion of the theme park. My biggest complaint with Roundhay was that they were charging a fortune for the fair ground rides and food, but only accepted cash and had no cash point anywhere. This would be very different because the play in the theme park afterwards is in your ticket already. Winner winner!