Christmas family activities

There are so many lovely things going on locally around Christmas time, that we thought we’d put them in one handy guide to Christmas events. From festive storytelling to husky sleigh rides, it’s all here… and of course the big man himself!

We’ve also pulled together a selection of events that are going on further afield. It’s a slightly random selection, but based on recommendations from other local mums and dads – so if you know of a little gem outside the area, then please do let us know about it and we can add it in.

Details of all the Richmond Borough events can also be found in our What’s On guide. For the Christmas lights switch-on events and Christmas fairs & markets, please see our separate guide to Christmas Fairs, Lights & Markets.


Richmond Borough & Isleworth:


A Candlelit Christmas at Ham House


30th November – 5th January, 12.00-4.00pm: Experience the wonderful splendour of Ham House lit by candle light. They’re re-creating the 17th century atmosphere with hundreds of candles and natural greenery filling the house over the festive season. Green boughs, towering trees and scents and smells of Christmas abound throughout creating a truly enchanting and festive atmosphere. To keep the collection safe, the candles will be battery operated – though you might need to take a second look to realise that. Normal admission applies. Father Christmas will be available for visits on certain days between the 7th – 23rd December (£7.50 per child including gift), but he’s in high demand so booking is essential!


Christmas Family Activities at Hampton Court Palace


21st December – 5th January, 10.00am-4.00pm: This Christmas, the Palace’s history cooks will recreate some of the tastiest Tudor treats served at Queen Elizabeth I’s court. Although famous for having been built for King Henry VIII, the Kitchens continued to be used by his daughter, Elizabeth I, to feed her courtiers and staff, and Christmas time would see this food factory running at full capacity. From roast beef and shred pie to spiced marchpane and buttered beer, discover how festive food fashions have changed at Elizabeth I’s palace. On weekends from 30th November – 22nd December there are also craft activities including wreath making, perfumed pomander pouches, lovely lace baubles, and colourful wooden tree charms. There’s  also skating on the ice rink from 22nd November – 5th January (booking required).


Christmas at Kew Gardens


20th November – 5th January, 5.00-10.00pm: It’s the most wonderful time of the year as the sparkling after dark trail returns to light up Kew Gardens. Now in its seventh year, the 2019 winter trail takes a magical new route and includes a host of all-new installations. Framed by glittering spiral trees, dynamic laser projections will illuminate the iconic Temperate House. A dazzling arch leads to a cascade of glowing silvery shards at the Treetop Walkway. Familiar favourites will also return. The Holly Bushes will sing, the Tunnel of Light will twinkle with thousands of pea-lights, and the flickering Fire Garden takes its place amidst the festive experience. Complete a walk under the stars with spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate. Choose from an enticing selection of street food along the trail. Gather around the fire-pit to toast marshmallows and end the evening browsing Kew’s gift shops. For the young and young at heart there’s also a Victorian carousel, helter skelter and other family rides. Don’t forget to look out for Santa and his elves along the way. Booking essential.


Christmas Weekends at the London Wetland Centre


30th November & 1st December; 14th & 15th December, 10.00am-4.00pm: Fun for the whole family; there will be a range of activities for everyone to enjoy. Hop aboard a husky sleigh ride, help the elves make special gifts for Christmas and go wild in the indoor and outdoor play areas. Children will be thrilled to hop aboard for a festive husky sleigh ride through the beautiful wetland scenery. They are sure to fall in love the friendly husky dogs, which pull their sleds barking joyfully. (Suitable 2-8yrs). The Elves are a little behind schedule this year and they need help to ensure there are enough presents in time for Christmas! Drop into their workshop throughout the day to help them prepare and to make your own Christmas gifts (a small charge may apply). Kids will also love the face painting to be transformed into a Christmas character or wetland creature. Choose from a range of designs to make your little one’s day extra special.


Festive Family Trail at Osterley House


1st December – 2nd January, 10.00am-4.090pm: Enjoy a festive trail around the gardens and discover nature’s gifts with a small prize at the end. Complete the activities then head to the shop to collect your prize. (£3.00 per trail). There is also a Christmas Decoration Workshop on 8th December from 11.30am while stocks last (£1.00 suggested donation).


Santa’s Grotto at Squires Garden Centre


Weekends from 16th November – 15th December, plus 16th – 24th December, from 10.30am (closing time varies according to day; also closed 1.00-2.00pm): Children can meet Santa in his magical grotto at Squire’s Garden Centres and receive an early Christmas present. As well as seeing your child’s face light when they see Santa and receive a beautiful wrapped gift, you’ll also get a warm glow as you’ll be benefitting a local charity. Tickets cost £6.00 per child, with £1.00 from every ticket being donated to Squire’s local charities.


Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park


Fridays – Sundays between 15th November – 1st December, 5.00-9.00pm: Wrap up warm and discover Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland, where an illuminated trail winds round the ornamental lake and through the historic arboretum of Syon House, ending at the spectacular Great Conservatory. A relaxed and informal event for all ages.  Booking essential.


Further Afield:


Visit Father Christmas at Bockett’s Farm, Fetcham


22nd November – 24th December: Enjoy a magical and festive family visit to meet Father Christmas in his traditional workshop. You’ll start the journey with one of our important head elves. Children will hop aboard the Santa express and travel in style to the magical workshop, where you’ll gather as a group for some festive elf fun. Next you’ll meet Father Christmas himself and receive a special golden coin to spend in his very own toy shop! Other festive activities include Complete the fun Christmas stamp trail; make and take home your own reindeer food; step into the Giant Snowglobe and experience a ‘White Christmas’; meet gorgeous new born baby lambs (expected early December); enjoy a full programme of fun farm activities; warm up in the giant heated indoor playbarn; plus hundreds of Christmas trees on sale from end of November.


Visit Father Christmas at Crockford Bridge Farm, Addlestone


Weekends between 30th November – 15th December, plus 19th – 22nd December: This Father Christmas visit is a unique and much loved walking performance through The Wonder Wood (the Farm’s 30 year old real Christmas Tree Forest.) After writing your Christmas wishes and being entertained by a cast of characters along the way, your group will meet Father Christmas in his Log Cabin. There is a gift for every child and a chance to share your Christmas wishes. The walking performance lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Booking essential.


Reindeer at Garsons Garden Centre & Farm, Esher


30th November – 24th December: Visitors will be able to see and learn about these magical creatures every day until Christmas Eve midday – when they return to help Santa make those all-important deliveries. Months of careful planning have gone into preparing for the special guests, from sending ‘reindeer helpers’ for training and familiarisation at the reindeer’s home farm, to building a specially made custom home for them. While there is no charge to visit the reindeer at Garsons, this annual tradition raises thousands of pounds for Garsons charities of the year, ‘Harrison’s Fund’ and ‘Breast Cancer Haven’ with collection buckets for donations. It truly is a magical day for all ages.


Santa’s Snow Train & Crystal Grotto at Painshill Park, Cobham


1st – 22nd December: Join Painshill for a completely unique festive experience this Christmas. Take a magical train trip to see Santa in their incredible Grade 1 listed Crystal Grotto. Enjoy festive colouring at the Visitor Centre before boarding an amazing Christmas land train. Appreciate the stunning views of the Painshill landscape on your train journey before arriving at the bright and twinkling Grotto. Meet Santa in your family group and take in the sparkling crystal covered cave. Every child can get a present from Santa and his elves. Book in the daytime and finish your festive experience by enjoying the Painshill Christmas trail and access to the Painshill gardens. If your time slot is after daylight hours complete your visit with a beautiful walk back via a special lit path. Booking essential.


Family Christmas Experience at Tulleys Farm, Crawley


Weekends between 30th November – 15th December, plus 19th – 24th December: Take your family to enjoy a magical and unique Christmas experience for all ages! The Christmas Experience is set within the beautiful woodland grounds of Tulleys Farm, and includes ice skating, a Christmas circus, food & drink, reindeer flying school, reindeer food making, gingerbread decorating, elves’ magical forst, story time with Father Christmas, make a bear, Santa’s sleigh ride, Santa’s post house, the elf hunt, singin’ chickens and fairground favourintes. Booking essential.


Santa Specials at the Watercress Line from Alresford


Weekends between 30th November– 15th December, plus 21st – 24th December: Travel in a festive train carriage for a magical trip where Santa and his jolly helpers visit you in your seat with a gift. Grown-ups get treated to white wine and mince pies, whilst children enjoy a soft drink and a gingerbread man. Each child will also receive an activity pack to keep them entertained on this enchanting one hour journey. Don’t forget to bring your very best singing voice to join in with your favourite Christmas songs too! Booking essential.


Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park


21st November – 5th January: London’s spectacular Christmas destination, including a a special family entrance entering straight into Santa Land, Christmas themed rides & games, a variety of food & drink stalls, and a free Santa’s Grotto, guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit. If you want to take some time out, there is a Family Chill Space with Kakao Friends, where you can warm up and relax in a quiet area. Family-friendly attractions include The Magical Ice Kingdom, Paddington™ on Ice, Zippos Christmas Show, Cirque Berserk, Mr. Men & Little Miss – The Show, the Giant Observation Wheel and the picturesque Ice Rink set in a beautiful leafy setting around the Victorian bandstand. Some attractions need booking.


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