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Christmas Holidays

From the best places to see Santa in York to festive family adventures, we've got it all covered.

Magic shows at Castle Howard this Twixmas

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Kids starting to climb the walls? Abracadabra! We’ve got the perfect solution: a magic show at Castle Howard! Until 30th December (11am and 1pm), ever-popular WonderPhil will perform a high energy, interactive magic show in the Christmas Marquee next to the house. Book tickets online for £5 a child, or on the day for £6 (adults need to buy ticket to access the grounds). The Twelve Days of Christmas also continues at Castle Howard until 31st December, and was the most festive thing we did this Christmas: read our review here.  Visit the Castle Howard website for more information

Review: The Grand Old Dame of York at York Theatre Royal

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Imagine this: you’ve been enjoying turkey for Christmas dinner ever since you can remember. Then one day, your family decides that, from next year onwards, turkey’s off the menu. Forever. What??!! Christmas will never be the same again! It’s a tragedy. And this year’s final turkey had better be good: no pressure then. For our family, Berwick Kaler is the turkey (no offence) and we’ve been feeling pretty bereft since he announced his departure from Christmas dinner/the York Theatre Royal pantomime earlier this year. After 40 years as the finest dame in the country, he’s certainly due a rest, but…

Review: Cinderella at the Grand Opera House York

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Eastenders or Corrie? Tea or coffee? Quality Street or Roses? We all have our favourites, but the big debate dividing the children at Little Vikings Towers is which York panto is best: York Theatre Royal or Grand Opera House. While our eldest is absolutely bonkers about Berwick, the 6-year-old is a sucker for the Grand Opera House show. I took her along to this year’s Cinderella for her annual dose of seasonal silliness and she wasn’t disappointed. For a girl who’s pretty keen on princesses, Cinderella is a winning choice. There’s plenty of sparkle, music and dancing galore and a…

Review: Father Christmas at York Castle Museum

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A trip to York Castle Museum has been part of my Christmas since I was a little Viking, and now it’s the turn of my children to insist on a visit as part of our family festivities. But we don’t just go for the nostalgia; the museum’s Victorian Christmas experience was voted Best Christmas Experience in this year’s Little Vikings Awards, meaning that hundreds of other York families rate it highly as a great place to go at Christmas with kids. We visited on a weekend when Father Christmas was in residence and the festive trail was in full swing.…

Christmas Days Out in York 2018

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In search of a Christmas day out in York? There are some lovely festive events for families, in the city and beyond. Whether you’d like to meet the big man himself or would just like a winter day out with a touch of festive sparkle, here’s our selection.

Santa in York 2018: Our guide to the grottos

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Looking for the best places to see Santa in York this year? Catch him in the city or out in the countryside, in a stately home, museum or even on a boat! Many Father Christmas experiences need pre-booking so it’s worth thinking about early. Here’s our pick of the best Santa’s grottos in and around York in 2018.

Review: Father Christmas at Treasurer’s House

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Have you heard the bad news? Father Christmas has crash-landed in York. But the good news is that he’s hiding away while his sleigh is fixed, and he’s keen to meet the children of York and hear their festive wishes while he’s here. While the reindeer are being looked after in the countryside (Castle Howard, apparently), Father Christmas is making himself at home in the attic of Treasurer’s House, the beautiful National Trust property next next to York Minster. We were invited along to meet the man himself – and his very jolly elves – to experience this relatively new…

Pantomimes, Christmas shows and carols in York 2018

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There’s something really special about heading out as a family to enjoy some festive entertainment, whether that’s watching the big lights switch-on in York city centre (15th November) or an evening of silliness at one of the theatres. Here’s some of our favourite festive entertainment in York this year.

Christmas in York 2018: The highlights for families

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It’s little wonder that York has been crowned Britain’s Most Festive City when you take a look at what’s on offer over the festive season. With Santa’s Grottos, unique Christmas experiences, markets, pantos and more, there’s a huge amount to see and do. And this year the plans are even bigger and sparklier. We’ll be bringing you our pick of the best things to to in York this Christmas for families in more detail, and in the meantime here’s a few highlights of what you’ve got to look forward to (diaries at the ready!): A new Santa’s Grotto in Coppergate,…

Review: The Book of Dragons at York Theatre Royal

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Read all about it! Read all about it! Dragon spotted in Bettys, York! At least that’s what the three year-old thought she saw lurking among the cakes when we popped in for some Christmas gifts on the way home from seeing The Book of Dragons at York Theatre Royal this week. Recently qualified expert dragon-hunters, we now know that dragons can be as small as a macaroon and just as sweet. We also know that they can be found just about anywhere. Our dragon-hunting journey began in the snowy landscape of the Theatre Royal’s studio, a cosy space that gives the…

Review: Santa’s Sweet Story at York’s Chocolate Story

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Christmas and chocolate go hand-in-hand, so where better to meet Father Christmas than at York’s favourite chocolate attraction – as voted by Little Vikings readers year after year – York’s Chocolate Story? We joined a gaggle of excited Little Vikings winners on a prize tour to check out one of York’s newest Santa experiences. This festive visit to York’s Chocolate Story takes the form of a tour with a twist. Instead of being taken on a journey through the history of chocolate and York’s chocolate heritage – which is what visitors usually experience at the attraction – Santa’s Sweet Story…

Review: A Victorian Christmas at York Castle Museum

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York Castle Museum’s Victorian Christmas is all about tradition, so it’s fitting that a visit to the museum has become an important tradition in the Little Vikings family Christmas. We were invited along to discover what families in York can look forward to this year, and we’re pleased to report that it’s another sparkling Christmas event. On weekends throughout December, young visitors can embark on the trail of The Lost Letters. A cheeky elf (is there any other kind?!) has hidden children’s letters to Father Christmas throughout the museum, and children are challenged to find them all before working out…

Review: Christmas at Castle Howard – Angels on High

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Castle Howard is one of our favourite places for a family day out, but you’ll usually find us walking through the woods, running around the fountain or climbing on something in the adventure playground. It’s rare for us to head to the house with the children in tow, but at Christmas it’s the first place we go. That’s because we know that Castle Howard does Christmas really, really well. Every year, this beautiful stately home is decked out with decorations that are the stuff of dreams (and Instagram/Pinterest interiors inspiration). We were invited along to the preview of this year’s…

The Micklegate Mingle 2017

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It’s been a cracking year for Micklegate, with another brilliant Soapbox Challenge the opening of more lovely new places to eat and drink, with and without children. And what better way to celebrate than an evening of Christmas fun, as the Micklegate Mingle returns? Last year’s event was a fantastic way to get in the festive mood.  Head to one of York’s finest streets on Monday 18th December from 5pm to 8pm to enjoy: Live reindeer Carol singing Minster FM Circus entertainers Appearances from the cast of the Barbican Panto Hot chocolate and of course the obligatory mulled wine Late…

Win one a place on a fun Christmas course with York City FC Foundation!

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If your children’s school is anything like ours, they won’t be going back to school until well into January. If you’re wondering how you’re going to do the work/childcare juggle, we can help! York City FC Foundation – the official charity of York City Football Club – run fantastic holiday courses for kids, and we’ve got one place to give away on the fun course at Huntington School this New Year. Here are the details: Wednesday 3rd January to Friday 5th January 2018 10am to 3pm (warm-up club available from 9am to 10am at £2 extra charge; booking required) Huntington…

Win a family ticket to Enchanted Brodsworth this Christmas

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Brodsworth Hall is a lovely place to visit with children at any time of year, but it’s especially magical at Christmas when you can visit after dark. The popular Enchanted Brodsworth event is back again this year, and will be a twinkly winter wonderland with optional visits to Father Christmas, too. It’s under an hour away, near Doncaster, and a good excuse to venture further from York this Christmas time. Grab your hats and scarves and enjoy a festive adventure of colour, light and sound. You’ll be greeted by a magical talking cedar tree as you set out on an…

Father Christmas tickets go on sale at Castle Howard

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If there’s one Father Christmas experience near York that’s bound to sell out, it’s the chance to meet him at Castle Howard. That’s why we’re reminding you that if you want to see him, you need to be quick. There are two options for meeting the man himself: Daytime Audiences with Father Christmas Gather around the fire as  wizard WonderPhil entertains with magic and then join in with Father Christmas as he tells stories and sings songs before handing out personalised presents. Enchanted Evenings with Father Christmas Gather in the Grecian Hall for a festive tea party before setting off…

Review: A Christmas Mystery and Victorian Christmas at York Castle Museum

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For me, Christmas and York Castle Museum have gone hand in hand since I was little. In fact, squirreled away in a box somewhere is an ancient York Press cutting with a photo of me and my brother aged 6 and 4, dressed as Victorians in a Christmassy Castle Museum, hand-in-hand with the Lord Mayor of the time (don’t ask). So it’s a special place to go back to with my own children, particularly at this time of year. We were delighted to be invited along to try the museum’s new festive children’s trail, A Christmas Mystery. Each of the…

Music, lights and more at Fountains Abbey this Christmas

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Fountains Abbey is a beautiful place, well worth the drive from York. And at Christmas it’s even more magical, with lots of events for the whole family to enjoy. Here’s what we’ve got to look forward to this year. Music and Lights Wander through the estate to see the trees twinkling with light and the Abbey all aglow with the colours of the rainbow. Stop by the cellarium to catch some live festive music too. Every weekend from 26th November to 18th December (also 27th & 31st December, excluding 11th December) – 3.30pm to 5pm (last entry 4pm), choirs/band 3.30pm…

Meet Santa in York…up a windmill!

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If you’ve never been to Holgate Windmill, you really should. It’s one of York’s hidden gems, nestled among residential streets, and a quirky place to visit with kids (ours have been talking about it ever since we went a couple of months back). What better time to visit than at Christmas, when a very well known white-bearded, red-suited gent will be greeting children at the top of the windmill? Father Christmas will be bringing his sack of presents to Holgate Windmill on Saturday 3rd, Sunday 4th and Saturday 10th December from 2 to 4 pm, and Sunday 11th December from 10am…

Meet Father Christmas at DIG: An Archaeological Adventure

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We love DIG, JORVIK’s hands-on archaeological attraction on St Saviourgate, and we love the sound of the festive activities they’ve got planned this year. There’s something for children of all ages: under fives can explore a Victorian Christmas during a fun-filled, festive Little Diggers session, while older children can book onto an afternoon session to get hands-on in the DIG pits to find out how Victorians celebrated this special time of year. Everyone will meet Santa and receive a gift to take home.  It all takes place on Saturday and Sunday 17th and 18th December and pre-booking is essential. Here’s everything you need to…

Review: Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland at York Designer Outlet

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If you’ve ever seen that scene where Bambi encounters ice for the first time, you’ll have a good idea of how our family took to ice skating at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland last year. Our youngest opted out completely (she had only just learnt to walk, after all) and the other two had a grand old time but stuck close to the edges just in case. What a difference a year makes! As a special festive treat, we kept the kids up late last week to take them along to the launch of Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland at York Designer Outlet. I…

Christmas Eve inspiration: The Crib Service at York Minster

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It’s a bit controversial, but I think I prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. At its best (ie you don’t spend it working or panic-buying), it’s a day full of festive cheer but without the expectations or hard work of the big day. In recent years, the Crib Service at York Minster has been one of our Christmas Eve traditions. It’s the most family-friendly service you can imagine, with an incredibly relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and fancy dress firmly encouraged losartan potassium 50 mg. There are traditional carols and a chance to visit the crib and see the nativity scene.…

Visit Santa on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

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Fancy meeting Santa on a steam train? Then head over to the North Yorkshire Moors to meet Father Christmas on-board one of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s Santa Special steam train experiences. Join Santa and his helpers at Pickering, Grosmont or Whitby for a magical adventure on the Santa Express for an unforgettable journey. Each child will receive an age-appropriate present, activity sheet and Santa hat while adults can enjoy a mince pie, hot drink and alcoholic drink. It sells out fast, so be quick. Santa Specials are running on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 20 & 21st December…

Where to see Santa in York: Santa in the Shambles

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After a great first year, York’s Chocolate Story’s grotto is back in a new home: Shambles Market. Visit Father Christmas’s old fashioned sweet shop for some fun activities before being called through to see Santa in his cosy study. Pose for a photo to take home and then watch your gift arrive on the conveyor belt. We went last year and really enjoyed the whole experience. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a Father Christmas experience in York city centre, and perfect to combine with a spot of Christmas shopping. 3rd to 24th December 2016 – weekdays (3rd…

Rudolf and The Witches at the West Yorkshire Playhouse this Christmas

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We’ve got some fabulous Christmas shows coming up in York this year, but a short hop away in Leeds the West Yorkshire Playhouse is putting on something special too. In fact they’ve got two great shows coming up and there’s not a pantomime dame in sight. Rudolf, a lovely tale about the famous reindeer, is aimed at a younger audience while The Witches, Roald Dahl’s scariest tale, is ideal for older kids. Here’s a bit more about them. Rudolf All Rudolf has ever wanted to do is to pull Santa’s sleigh. But only the best reindeer get to do that.…

Storytime with Santa, winter zoo and new Christmas market at Flamingo Land

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There’s lots of Christmas fun coming up at Flamingo Land this winter. In the run-up to the big day, enjoy festive storytelling with Santa and his elves, have a photo taken and receive a gift at The Coach House grotto (£10 per child on top of normal admission). The all-new Christmas market will be up and running too, with stalls full of gift ideas and tempting treats. The fabulous Flamingo Land zoo will also be open so you can enjoy seeing over 140 reptiles, mammals, fish, amphibians and birds. A selection of rides for younger children will also be available.…

Santa’s Sleigh Rides at Piglets Adventure Farm Park

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For an outdoor festive adventure in York this Christmas, Piglets is just the place. Jump on board Santa’s sleigh for a ride through the twinkling Woodland Village, check in at Elf Airlines, be greeted by Mrs Claus and then see Santa in his grotto. Take the golden key to unlock the toy shop and choose a present from the selection. That’s not all: you can see festive animals in the nativity scene or have a go on the Victorian carousel or vintage car ride (small extra charges). Adults can enjoy a bratwurst, mulled wine or beer before or after the…

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