It may only be the start of October but we are already planning our Festive Season. The best Christmas events need to be booked up early and we love looking at our diaries and seeing all the lovely days out and special evenings we have planned for December.
Here’s our pick of some of the best.
For the kids
If you really want to feel that you are stepping into the North Pole without actually getting on a plane then this is the place to visit. It’s a slick, well thought out performance from the very start of your three hour trip in the Whitmoor Forest in Berkshire, which is fantastically transformed into a beautifully designed Christmas wonderland.
Think fake snow, making toys with the elves (who never slip out of character), decorating cookies with Mrs Claus and of course real reindeer.
Then there is the meeting with the man himself, which is a fantastic experience for the children.
You’ll have been asked in advance to email their names, what’s top of their Christmas list and some other little bits of information and it really adds to the magic when Santa somehow knows all these special details.
Along with the tour you have the skating rink, café and shop, making it a truly wonderful day out for everyone. We have just booked to go for the third year in a row and can’t wait till the ‘letter’ from Lapland arrives telling the children they have been good all year (though that is questionable!) and inviting them to to visit again. They excitement on their faces is priceless.
As long time members of the National Trust we can highly recommend their properties at Christmas. Polseden Lacey in Surrey is one we visit regularly and every December they have a host of events and a wonderful Santa’s Grotto. Or try Claremont Gardens in Esher, Bodium Castle in East Sussex or Hatchlands Park in Surrey. Plus you are always guaranteed a good cuppa and some yummy Christmas cake in one of their terrific cafes.
As soon as school breaks up we take the children to see a Christmas show. We’re not big fans of traditional panto, but there are some amazing theatre productions for kids that all the family can enjoy.
Two years ago we saw the Snowman, which is back at the Peacock Theatre this year from 23rd November to January 1st and is mesmerising for younger children. Based on the famous story, it will take you back to your own childhood.
Last year it was Elf the Musical, which was simply fantastic – we loved it more than the kids! And this year we are off to Stick Man, one of Julia Donaldson’s wonderful stories, which is on at the Leicester Square Theatre from November 5th to December 30th.
Christmas shopping doesn’t need to be a stressful process. We don’t believe in starting in July, but a little bit of forward planning means you’ll find the perfect presents for everyone on your list.
Every year we go to the Spirit of Christmas event at Olympia that runs from 31st October to 6th November. It’s packed with hundreds of retailers offering all sorts of fantastic unusual gifts all under one roof. From clothing and in jewellery to art and interiors, mixed in with all the lovely festive goodies you’d expect to find such as decorations, cards and edibles.
We go together, with our mum and with friends – going our separate ways to shop (often for each other) and then meeting up again for lunch at the lovely restaurant. It’s a great girls day out.
There are so many super places to shop in London that it would be pointless to list them all, but one of our favourites is Kings Road and at Christmas Duke of York Square is a great spot. They switch on their lights on 12th December and from then on there is a Santa’s Grotto to take the little ones to.
Nothing makes you feel more Christmassy than a church carol service. School nativity plays are the highlight of the festive season for us, but if you’d like to attend a more grown up concert then you’ll find some stunning services in London, often raising funds for very worthy causes.
Last year we went to one at St Paul’s Cathedral in aid of Cancer Research. Such a spectacular setting, a host of celebrities doing readings and all the traditional carols one would expect – plus mince pies as you leave.
On 8th December the Cathedral is hosting it’s annual concert, this year in aid of the MS Society, and you can book tickets through the Barbican website.
We will be going to the service at Westminster Abbey with our friends and husbands on 15th December. It’s starts at 7pm so we will book dinner for afterwards. Singing carols and celebrating in such an iconic place is so special – it’s one of our favourite nights out in December.
Music, Theatre and Ballet
Music plays such a big part in Christmas celebrations – Michael Bublé gets his annual airing around our houses from December 1st onwards. But when we’re not snuggling up with him by the Christmas tree we love going to concerts, theatre and the opera.
We have great things to say about Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall, on Saturday 17th December, especially if you are thinking of taking relatives. We went with our parents a few years ago and they loved all the classic carols and family favourites.
Last year we went to the Royal Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Visually stunning and musically delightful, it was a such a treat. Dinner in the glass vaulted Balconies restaurant at the Opera House beforehand made the night even more memorable.
The English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is also on at Coliseum Theatre from 14th December till 17th January. We saw their production three years ago and it was equally good, but the Opera House setting does have the edge.
Hope this has given you some inspiration for your Festive season! We are so looking forward to Christmas 2016 already!