Last year we worked hard on Christmas events and held many events. I love Christmas, but I don’t like the commercialism and excessive shopping that comes with it. So rather than spend a fortune on tacky Christmas presents for the kids, I decided to treat them to a festive day out or Christmas event.
We live on the border of Wrexham and Chester so we tend to stick to Christmas events in North Wales and Cheshire.
It’s almost that time of year when everyone wants to book a Christmas event, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the events we hosted last year.
Our North Wales and Cheshire Christmas events last year included:
(Details on each are explained below)
- Christmas at Gulliver Theme Park
- Polar Express from Telford
- zip world zip mass
- chester zoo lantern
- magical forest
- north hills farm
- chirk castle
- And there are a few events that I personally haven’t attended (yet!), but plan on attending in 2023!
Christmas at Gulliver’s Theme Park, Warrington
Perfect for: Great price for a full day out
This is a small train that takes you through a winter wonderland
I was surprised that Christmas at Gulliver Theme Park in Warrington was my favorite Christmas activity of all the activities we did.
Since we spent the whole day there, we thought it was very good value for money.
There’s the North Pole Train, which takes you through a winter wonderland theme park, including a stop at Santa’s Workshop and a visit to Santa’s Grotto.
The kids all got toys (they were really great toys!) and then we spent a whole afternoon at the theme park.
Gulliver’s World was definitely a Christmas activity for the kids, but if you have young kids (under 10) you’ll love it.
It’s also worth noting that Gulliver hosts Twixmas. This is a great gift and can be a lovely activity to continue the festive fun during those awkward in-between stages.
There are four Gulliver theme parks in the UK. Warrington, Matlock Bath, Milton Keynes and Rother Valley, so I think it will be a very similar experience in all four parks.
Learn more about the Arctic Express experience at Gulliver’s World.
Santa’s grotto was amazing and it was huge too!
It was really fun to ride the rides after the Christmas experience
Alba just turned 2 years old and she had a lot of work to do!
The Polar Express from Telford
Best for: Young families
polar express train
Well, this was a bit of a disappointment for us, and it wasn’t as magical as I expected.
I watched a movie at home the night before riding the Polar Express and it was so exciting and magical. Then we told the kids that we were going to a real game the next night. The excitement was through the roof!
The Polar Express is a short steam train journey where Santa and his elves sing and you get hot chocolate and cookies just like in the movie.
It has the potential to be truly magical, but it wasn’t quite there yet.
Our middle son, Joseph (he just turned 5), was not impressed. I think he really wanted us to ride the real Polar Express. And I guess I was disappointed to find a pop-up marquee waiting at the station, a few sprinkles of fake snow, and a rickety old train. He said Santa wasn’t real and that one of the elves was more imitating than singing.
The train didn’t really go anywhere either. We moved forward for 2-3 minutes, then retreated for 2-3 minutes. This made my eldest son George feel bad too (but he was kind of sweet and would quietly sit there and play with his baby sister).
To be honest, this could have been really magical, but I didn’t really enjoy it because Joseph was in such a bad mood.
We thought it was expensive for the price and it’s quite a long drive to Telford so we were all a bit fed up by the time we arrived.
Find out more about the Telford Polar Express here.
George with the Golden Ticket to the Polar Express
There was even a hobo camp just like in the movie!
Movie-like hot chocolate and delicious cookies!
Zipmas at ZipWorld
Perfect for: Something different
This was really fun. We have done so many Christmas activities over the years so it was nice to do something completely different.
A full review of Zipmas can be found here.
Zipmas is held at Zipworld Slate Cave in Lesved. Start your journey with mince pies and hot chocolate before boarding an old, rickety train that descends 500 feet into the mine. The steepest cable railway in Europe, the tunnels are decorated with Christmas lights as you head towards the mines. The kids loved this part so we started on a high.
Then take a 30-minute stroll through the mine’s rooms, which are decorated with fairy lights and Christmas decorations. Eventually you will arrive at Santa’s grotto. There, the incredible Santa (all the children agreed that he was definitely the real Santa) is waiting for a festive chat in his cozy home.
Returning to the top, you will enter the crafting area where you can decorate your slate Christmas tree ornaments. This part was also surprisingly fun, so it would be great to have these decorations on the tree every year. There were also toys appropriate for the age of the child.
This is a great Christmas activity in North Wales if you’ve already done plenty of other activities and want to try something new. It’s fun for older kids, and I think adults will really enjoy it just as much as kids.
Click here for more information about Gypmas.
Gypmas was a truly unique Christmas event
Chester Zoo Lanterns
Perfect for: Spending a full day combined with a day at the zoo
Chester Zoo Lanterns is a traditional Christmas event in Cheshire. We live near a zoo so this is something everyone in our area does!
We found that the quality of Chester Zoo’s lanterns varied from year to year. 2018 turned out to be the best year ever. It’s always been great, but it’s never been as good as that year and it’s always been a little disappointing.
But if you’ve never been to Lanterns, there’s nothing to compare it to and you’ll love it!
Enter the zoo after dark and follow the magical path around the zoo. There, lanterns and performers await at every turn. There are all kinds of performers, including dancers and puppets, and the giant, colorful lantern animals are a sight to behold. There is also a teepee offering food and drinks, and each child carries a small lantern, which adds even more magic.
If Chester Zoo is a bit of a drive, we recommend taking the whole day and buying a ticket to visit the regular zoo during daytime opening hours. Some children may be disappointed because they won’t be able to see real animals after dark.
Find out more about Chester Zoo’s lanterns here.
Christmas at Bolesworth
Ideal for: Multi-generational people and people with many adults
This was my first time visiting Bolesworth Castle and since then I have realized that there are so many great events throughout the year. This beautiful country house is located near Tattenhall and is well known for its equestrian events.
They host a huge incredible Christmas event with so much going on. Caves, ice rinks, light shows, enchanting light trails through the forest, amusement park rides, lake water exhibits, reindeer, food and drinks, interactive experiences, festive games, and even a lakeside champagne bar! there is.
I think there are lots of activities for adults as well as activities for children, so it’s a great Christmas event if you have a lot of adults visiting.
Travel hack tip: It got muddy here last year, so wear rain boots or rain boots. If you are using a stroller, please be aware that you may need to get out of the stroller from time to time and come back later.
Find out more about Christmas at Bolesworth here.
This tunnel of light is the perfect place to take Instagram snaps!
Magical Woodland at Delamere Forest
Perfect for: A magical night
This was my second year visiting the magical woodlands of Delamere Forest. It’s truly magical and if you’ve never visited a forest light show like this before, you’ll be in for a real treat.
We loved this place so much on our first visit that we wrote an entire blog post about it: Magical Woodland Review: A Great Outdoor Experience in Cheshire
But to be honest, I don’t think the second time was quite as magical. For the adults who remember it all, it was a bit the same because it was pretty much the same Christmas experience.
I 100% recommend going here if you’ve never been before, but I don’t recommend staying away for 2 years.
Click here to learn more about Magical Woodland.
North Hills Farm, Ruthin
Perfect for: Get a Christmas experience by buying a Christmas tree
North Hills Farm is one of the smaller Christmas events that will probably keep you busy for an hour, but it’s a lovely event when combined with Christmas tree shopping.
This cute little farm has reindeer feeding at set times, a small shop, a cafe, and a small fireplace where you can toast marshmallows.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit the farm, but if you’re in the area, it makes for a very nice afternoon out. Click here to learn more about North Hills Farm.
Christmas at Chirk Castle
Perfect for: National Trust members
If you are already a member of the National Trust, we highly recommend visiting Chirk Castle at Christmas time. This is not a big, flashy, loud Christmas event like many others, but it is a beautiful and sophisticated event!
Chirk Castle has a beautiful light path through the gardens and the interior of the castle is very beautifully decorated. Each room is decorated with a giant tree, but be careful, you’ll be going home envious of his Christmas tree. Find out more about Christmas at Chirk Castle here.
Other Christmas events in Cheshire and North Wales I’d like to try:
- Dunham Massey
- Knowsley Safari Park
- Greenwood Family Park
- randudo 5k Santa Dash
- Santa Experience at Park Hall Farm
- Meet Santa at NinjaTAG, Lil