Do you wanna build a snowman? Then we’ve got just the place: the beautiful North York Moors. Whether or not we’re lucky enough to get a flurry of snow, the Moors is the perfect place for memorable family experiences this Christmastime. Just a short drive from York, there’s so much to do in the national park that you might even want to stay a night or two to make the most of it (but book your accommodation early or you’ll probably discover that there’s no room at the inn!). Here’s our pick of the best things to do in the North York Moors this Christmas with kids.
Meet Santa on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway
What could be more magical than meeting Santa aboard an actual steam train? The stuff of Christmas dreams-come-true, you’ll embark on an unforgettable journey through the epic winter landscapes of the North York Moors aboard a beautifully decorated steam train. Enjoy onboard entertainment, meet the elves and Santa, and receive a special gift to take home. Selected dates in November and December – pre-booking required. Visit the North Yorkshire Moors Railway website for info and tickets.
Discover the pretty villages
Decked out for the festivities, the charming villages of Goathland, Thornton-le-Dale and Hutton-le-Hole are like something from your children’s favourite festive picture book at this time of year. Over on the coast, why not head to smugglers’ favourite, Robin Hood’s Bay, for their Victorian Weekend where you’ll see visitors and residents decked out in Victorian costume, and shops decked out with traditional Christmas trees and wreaths (2nd and 3rd December).
Do some Christmas shopping in the market towns
For quirky stocking fillers and tasty treats for the Christmas table, the market town of Helmsley is brimming with independent shops that will help you with your list. Kids not keen on shopping? Reward their patience with a visit to Helmsley Castle: explore the ruins, channel your inner knight and have a go at hands-on activities. Need to walk off all those pigs in blankets? The easy walk between Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx Abbey is popular with families with older children. Malton’s Christmas Festival is a wonderful weekend of festive celebration, with a wonderful market, live music and a gorgeous atmosphere (2nd and 3rd December).
Go for a walk and pick up your Christmas tree at Dalby Forest
For a festive family walk without the grumbles, Dalby Forest is a brilliant option.There are plenty of well-signed, family-friendly trails to choose from, including the interactive Zog Trail (download the app before you set off to make it even more fun) and you can warm up with a hot chocolate or some lunch in the Visitor Centre. Why not take a bit of the forest home with you by buying your Christmas tree from Dalby, too? https://www.forestryengland.uk/dalby-forest
Christmas in Neverland at Castle Howard
Castle Howard’s Christmas experience is one of the best in the country, and it gets better every year. This year’s theme is Christmas in Neverland: fly into the adventure of a lifetime bursting with fairies, mermaids, and pirates. Vast ships will cruise into Castle Howard’s great galleries, Lost Boy laughter will echo through the halls and beautiful rooms will transform into tropical lagoons. Follow the boy who never grew up into a fantastical festive world that will re-ignite your belief in fairies and leave your heart full. 11th November 2023 to 2nd January 2024
Explore wonderful Whitby
Blow away the Christmas cobwebs with a trip to the stunning seaside town of Whitby. Head there before the big day to pick up unique gifts, from fossils and gems to a Whitby Lucky Duck, or check out what’s on offer at Whitby Christmas Festival (17th to 19th November). Stretch your legs by climbing the 199 steps up to the abbey and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views across the rooftops and harbour. And what better way to celebrate the new year than a stroll along the sandy beach followed by fish and chips? The resolutions can wait…