Festive Events Handy for Luxury Family Hotels
Few guests actually stray beyond our boundaries when staying at a Luxury Family Hotel, and who can blame them? With cosy real fires to curl up in front of, gorgeous spas in which to pamper yourself, lots of family activities on site, and wonderful food and drink, it’s hard to think about leaving – especially at or around Christmas, when our hotels are drenched in festive cheer and lay on house parties and traditional entertainments.
However, with so many wonderful attractions on our doorsteps, we feel duty-bound to share our highlights for those looking for exciting days out or great places to shop for Christmas gifts, among them Bath’s famous festive market. And if you choose one of our coastal properties, don’t overlook the pleasure of a stroll along a blustery, uncrowded beach to help walk off the turkey and mince pies…
Please make sure to check dates and times on venue websites if making a special trip.
Festival of Light, Longleat
Handy for: Woolley Grange, Wiltshire
14th Nov 2014–4th Jan 2015
Come to this safari and adventure park this Christmas and you’ll find it transformed by Europe’s largest-ever display of giant Chinese lanterns, some up to 18 metres tall. Alongside traditional Oriental designs such as dragons there’ll be outsize re-creations of some of Longleat’s resident animals, while visitors will also be able to watch traditional Chinese ‘face-changing’ opera. The event runs alongside Longleat’s usual Christmas celebrations including a Santa Train, giant musical Christmas tree and outdoor ice-rink.
Christmas at Beaulieu
Handy for: New Park Manor, Hampshire
20th Dec 2014–4th January 2015
This estate, home to the National Motor Museum, is even more magical at this time of year. In Palace House, home of the Montagu family since 1538, kids will be able to dress up in period attire, costumed actors will talk about what Christmas was like in Victorian times, and there’ll be carol-singing around the grand piano and hot fruit punch in front of the great fireplace with its yule log. Meanwhile, the grounds are the perfect place for a winter walk, with huge, beautifully decorated outdoor Christmas trees.
Santa Specials, Swanage Steam Railway
Handy for: Moonfleet Manor, Dorset
6/7th, 13/14th and 20–24th Dec 2014
Enjoy an hour-long jaunt through the rolling countryside of Purbeck while Santa and his elves do the rounds of this steam-heated, festively decorated train, bringing presents for the kids and serving drinks, mince pies and cookies to all.
The Enchanted Christmas, Westonbirt Arboretum
Handy for: Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire
Fri/Sat/Sun evenings 28th Nov–21th Dec 2014
In the run-up to Christmas, a buggy/wheelchair-friendly, mile-long illuminated trail will highlight Westonbirt’s trees against the wintery night sky to stunning effect. Each year sees a new lighting design so visitors can experience different trees, paths and views.
Family Christmas Sparkle, Ickworth
Handy for: The Ickworth Hotel, Suffolk
6/7th, 13/14th and 20th-22nd Dec 2014
The Ickworth Hotel shares a stunning Italianate palace with the National Trust property of the same name, so you don’t have to go far to enjoy festive activities laid on by the latter, including decoration, cracker and treat making sessions, storytelling by Santa around the Christmas tree and choirs in the West Wing. For pantomime fans, the Theatre Royal in nearby Bury St Edmunds is hosting ‘Cinderella’ this year.
A Falmouth Christmas
Handy for: Polurrian Bay Hotel, Cornwall
Throughout Dec 2013
A host of events in the lead-up to Christmas Day make Falmouth a great bet with kids. The highlight is the December Festival (11–13th), embracing an artisan Christmas market, a Santa Fun Run and a live nativity with sheep, goats and a small pet area. There’s also a Christmas tree festival (15th–31st), and on Christmas Eve the Harmony Choir event bringing together choirs from all over Cornwall.
Winter Festival, Eden Project
Handy for: Fowey Hall, Cornwall
29th Nov 2014–4th Jan 2015
The famed educational eco-park is offering visitors the chance to meet Father Christmas and real reindeer and listen to Santa read stories, go ice skating, take part in lantern parades and explore the festively decorated Rainforest Biome at twilight – not all are available every day so check the website.