It's Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmas! 10 places to visit in Yorkshire this festive period

Written by: Elmtree Press

Whether you love a storybook Christmas or you are more of a Bah Humbug sort of person, there are plenty of places for small and big children to visit this Christmas period.

Lightwater Valley, Ripon

Alice In Winterland At Lightwater Valley this Christmas.

Discover a fantastical family-friendly festive trail at Lightwater Valley this Christmas with the enchanting Alice in Winterland (Selected dates from Friday 22nd November – Monday 30th December). Embark on a magical journey to meet the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and, of course, Alice herself on their amazing adventure. Hundreds of giant illuminated sculptures will illustrate stories from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Discover a giant chess board, watch the Mad Hatter prepare for his crazy tea party, marvel at the four-metre tall Alice lantern and come face to face with the infamous Queen herself.  

Visitors of all ages can follow the luminous trail and immerse themselves in a glowing garden with massive mushrooms, illuminated tulips and even a flamingo or two as the evening becomes curiouser and curiouser…Families can also enjoy some traditional fairground fun including a spin on the carousel and take to the night sky on the Skyrider. For little ones the Indoor Play Area and Young Fun Rides will be open, to entertain guests of all ages. Food and drink will be on offer and guests can indulge in a seasonal glass of something tasty whilst enjoying the light experience.

Nearby Ripon is believed to have been a major influence on Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story. The author’s father was the canon of Ripon Cathedral and carved figures resembling the Mad Hatter and Alice, with which Carroll would have been familiar, have been discovered on several of its choir stalls.

Alice in Winterland will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 22nd November – 15 December and then on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 20th December to 30th December. Doors open at 4pm with last entry at 7pm.  

For details and to book visit 

North York Moors Railway

Whitby Winter Excursions – Sunday 29 Dec 2019 and Wednesday 1 Jan 2020

Once again, North York Moors Railway will be running special steam hauled excursions to Whitby. So why not enjoy a Winter's day out from Pickering and blow the cobwebs away at the seaside, or perhaps work off some of that Christmas pudding with a brisk walk in the fresh Whitby air. These pre-booked services depart from Pickering Station and traverse the North York Moors National Park to Whitby. Here you will have just over 2 hours to spend in the town before the steam hauled service departs from Whitby Station.

Excursion Tickets: Adult £35, Child £17.50, Dog £3

Members Offer: Adult £30, Child £15, Dog Free - To book call Customer Services on 01751 472508  with your Membership Number. (Office Open Mon to Fri 0930 - 1630).

Burton-Agnes Hall and Gardens

Each Christmas, the Cunliffe-Lister family decorates each corner of their Elizabethan home to create a festive wonderland with traditional and contemporary handmade decorations. Alongside the house opening this year, there are Christmas events for all, listed below.

Christmas activities and events especially for children

Meet Father Christmas in his courtyard grotto-Post a Christmas wish list and visit Father Christmas in his new courtyard grotto, where every child will receive a special Christmas gift. Weekends in December (except 1st, 28th and 29th) from 12-4pm. £5.00 per child; no need to book, just come along.

Christmas Hall and Enchanted Woodland Village Trail - the young at heart can enjoy a festive trail, seeking handmade felt snowmen in each room, and will discover a magical village within the historic woodland. Seek out enchanting little homes among the trees and imagine the lives of fairies and elves within!

An Audience with Father Christmas and his Head Elf - Join Father Christmas, Mrs Christmas and Jingles the Magic Elf for a performance of magic and song, a special gift and photographs. Saturdays 7th, 14th and 21st and Sunday 22nd December. Performances at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm each day. £12.50 child, £11.00 Adult, £10.50 Senior.

Christmas events for all

Christmas twilight weekend - Join us on the weekend of the 6th, 7th and 8th December for our Christmas twilight weekend. Enjoy the bountifully decorated Hall with an extended opening until 9pm on Friday and Saturday evenings.  Visitors are offered mulled wine and mince pies on arrival. During the weekend, children can visit Father Christmas in his courtyard grotto and visit a mobile farm, and everyone can enjoy carols in the Hall as well as relishing the Hall’s decorations twinkling in the twilight. Normal Hall admission applies.

Talk: Christmas through the ages at Burton Agnes Hall - On Thursday 5th December at 2pm, discover the secrets of Christmases past at this talk by Head Guide Pauline Waslin. Normal Hall admission applies.

Twilight carols by the fireside - On Thursday 19th December, 5-9pm, join Simon Cunliffe-Lister for grand piano-led carols by the fireside and enjoy mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas shopping and the Hall’s decorations twinkling in the twilight. Normal Hall admission applies.

Christmas craft Wednesdays -  Every Wednesday, Hall guides will demonstrate crafting decorations, and reveal the secrets behind the house’s handmade decorations. Normal Hall admission applies.

Limited tickets; booking is essential

Farfield Mill, Sedburgh

Festive Farfield Weekend - Saturday 30 Nov & Sunday 1 Dec - Free Entry

Join us for some Christmas festivities at the Mill. There will be exhibitions, children's Christmas craft activities, a treasure hunt plus lots of beautiful unique gifts to buy for someone special. 

The Forbidden Corner, Middleham, Leyburn

The Forbidden Corner is a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created within a four-acre garden in the heart of Tupgill Park and the Yorkshire Dales. A tourist visitor attraction unlike anywhere that you have been before, ideal for the adventurers and those young at heart!

Santa will be visiting Forbidden Corner every Sunday in December leading up to Christmas. All Children visiting will get a free gift from Santa and under 4s are £3.50.

Mother Shipton’s Cave, Knaresborough - Christmas Experience 2019

Santa is flying here to see you! Let the twinkling lights draw you into the wonder of Mother Shipton’s magical memory-making Christmas experience. The excitement begins with Santa’s jolly elves giving each child their own festive activity pack. Adults can enjoy a complimentary glass of mulled wine whilst the children are busy writing a letter to Santa and a wish to hang on the Christmas tree. Don’t forget to visit Mother Shipton’s Post Office to stamp and send off your letter to Santa! 

If you are feeling creative, you can decorate a gingerbread man for an additional cost. Hot drinks and mince pies are also available. To fuel Santa’s reindeer as they fly all over the world, they will need some food. Fill a bag with magical food to take home and scatter. Acorn the Toy Maker will be working hard to make lots of toys for children this Christmas. Help Acorn to make some traditional wooden toys to fill up Santa’s sleigh before his Christmas Eve journey. As you venture through breathtaking surroundings, immerse yourself in Christmas wonder with Holly Berry the Storyteller who will read you an enchanting tale. 

And then to the main event: Chief Elf Chestnut has the important task of warming you up before entering the stunning grotto that leads you through to meet Santa. Receive a very special gift and have a photo taken, which will then be available to buy in the Christmas Shop alongside an array of wonderful gifts and decorations.

Tickets to see Santa can be purchased ONLINE ONLY, selected dates from 1st to 24th December. 

Mother Shipton’s will also be hosting a Champion Day on 30th November for children and adults who would prefer a quieter, more relaxed visit to Santa with no bright lights or loud noises. For more information visit Pre-booked tickets only, available online 

York’s Chocolate Story

Santa’s Sweet Adventure - 23 Nov - 24 Dec 19  - York’s greatest Santa adventure returns for 2019. Rated as one of the UK’s best Santa experiences in The Sun newspaper, tickets have now launched for this highly acclaimed tour.

This festive season (23rd November -24th December), York’s Chocolate Story will deck the tours with boughs of holly! All three floors will have a festive make-over as Father Christmas himself takes up residence. Guests will be able to meet Santa on special themed tours, in which they will complete a mission to help him save Christmas! Filled with festive fun, children will experience cracking Christmas games, discover incredible seasonal secrets, as well of course as meeting the big man – Santa himself!

On the way, families can learn festive facts about iconic brands and how chocolate was involved in Christmases past. There will be an opportunity to make their own Christmas-themed lollies and watch special festive demonstrations with talented chocolatiers.

Normal tours will still be taking place throughout the Christmas period.

Price of entry, includes:

• Meeting with Santa • Christmas games • Commemorative photo • Festive chocolate making activity

Child: £17.50,  Child Under 4 years old: £6.00,  Adult: £9:50

PERSONALISE YOUR OWN KIT-KAT!!!!!  It's time for some amazing freshly made seasonal chocolates as well as the famous Gingerbread and Mulled Wine at York's Chocolate Story.  And how about this for exciting news! - York’s Chocolate Story now has a new and exciting experience.  Working in collaboration with Nestlé they have launched: KitKat® Chocolatory® where you have the opportunity to create your very own KitKat®. Having a break just got a whole lot better with the creation of the 8-finger KitKat®, which you can personalise and have made right in front of your eyes. It’s the perfect gift for your chocolate-loving friends!  As York is the home of chocolate, what better place to invent your very own KitKat® creation?  Plus, while you wait for our team of expert Chocolatiers to complete your product you can enjoy our immersive, award-winning chocolate tour and discover the history behind the global sweet treat.  Please note, walks-up are available for KitKat® Chocolatory®, but do not benefit from the online discount and do not include the tour. 

See website for details but hurry, it's only available until Christmas so people have limited time to purchase. 

Forest Holidays, Keldy and Cropton North Yorkshire - short cabin breaks and holidays in the Forest this Christmas

 Delight in the magic of the forest in your own woodland cabin and make your Christmas break with the whole family a holiday to remember! Christmas is family time, but sometimes it can be a bit of a squeeze fitting everyone in. At Christmas, our cabins are the perfect place to bring large family groups together. Book multiple cabins at the same location and you can choose to have your lodges located next to each other, making it easier for everyone to come together on the big day.

For breaks Friday 20 Dec to Friday 27 Dec: Let us take care of Christmas! Enjoy a relaxing getaway in your beautiful holiday lodge, surrounded by the winter forest.  When you stay with us for your Christmas 2019 break, you will enjoy some special treats:

Mulled wine and mince pies in the Forest Retreat at check-in.

Real Christmas tree in all cabins with fairy lights. 

Free luxury festive hamper (guests staying for Christmas Day).

Visit from Father Christmas on Christmas Eve – with a free gift for all children. 

Festive activities including reindeers, brass bands and a BBQ – varies by location.

Christmas Day in the Forest - Christmas time in the forest is magical. After the all the preparations, slow down and enjoy the delights of Christmas in your woodland cabin. Celebrate Christmas morning round the tree, knee-deep in wrapping paper, then head for a brisk winter walk through the silent forest. Afterwards, it’s back to your cosy lodge for turkey with all the trimmings, and a wonderfully festive evening.

For those wishing to travel further away, Forest Holidays have luxury cabins in Scotland, Wales, Hampshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire and Norfolk.

Piece Hall, Halifax

Head to The Piece Hall for a Christmas experience like no-other, it’s a must-visit destination this festive season as it hosts a spectacular programme of festive events for all the family.  The courtyard transforms into a winter wonderland set against the beautiful backdrop of this stunning Georgian building and you can also find a treasure trove of independent shops offering locally made gifts and enjoy a range of special festive menus at the many cafés, bars and restaurants.

From the 22 November until 31 December, The Piece Hall’s stunning courtyard will be home to a twinkling Victorian carousel and cosy Deluxe Bar, set around our towering Christmas tree, where you can enjoy warming drinks with friends and family.

A Christmas Fair showcasing some of the region’s favourite independent craft stalls, artisan makers and pop-up food and drink traders takes place from Friday 29 November – Sunday 1 December. The season continues from Friday 6 December with the magnificent circus-style Salon Perdu, showcasing a fantastic programme of family shows, live music, stand-up com-edy and cabaret. An array of creative Christmas workshops offers you the chance to get crafty and learn a new skill throughout November and December, while outside brass bands and choirs bring the place to life with festive cheer. 

Musical highlights include Badly Drawn Boy on Wednesday 18 December; much-loved York-shire band, Hope & Social, bringing their annual Christmas concert to The Piece Hall on Thursday 12 December, and you can enjoy classic carols at The Big Sing on Christmas Eve. The season will come to a close on New Year’s Eve, with an outdoor Courtyard Party featur-ing live music, DJs and entertainment.

For more details, see

Sledmere House, Driffield, East Yorkshire

The Woodyard Christmas Shop -Open from the 1st November – Tuesday to Sunday -  10am – 4.30pm. The Woodyard transforms into a wonderland of beautiful Christmas decorations, unique festive gifts and cosy winter homeware.

“A Taste of a Victorian Christmas” A special seasonal talk - Tuesday 26th November and Wednesday 27th November 2019. Arriving at 10.30am and finishing at 2.30pm.  You will be greeted by the Head guide Alicia at the Farm Shop to then take a short stroll down the driveway and enter the house through the Stone Hall where there will be Coffee, Tea and Biscuits waiting for you on arrival.  Then its off to the Library for a fascinating talk on how the Victorians celebrated the festive season.  A light lunch will be served in The Orangery after which a demonstration of the wrapping of Christmas Gifts past and present will be made back in the Library.  Finally, Sherry and mince pies will be served in the main hall after which you will have free time to walk around the grounds and visit our Woodyard Christmas Shop. Price £35 Per Person - Sledmere Friends will be eligible for a £5 discount per member.  There are limited spaces for this event and booking online is required.

Santa’s Magical Grotto - Saturday 30th November and Sunday December 1st - Weekends of 7th and 8th, 14th and 15th, 21st and 22nd December. There has been some exciting changes made this year at Sledmere Grotto HQ!  Not only have they moved to a wonderful new location in the traditional Home Farm buildings but they have also made your experience even more special by getting rid of most of the queuing!  From now on you can book your visit online to suit you and bookings can be made up to an hour before each session starts.  In small groups you’ll get to explore the Magical Grotto, enjoy some festive fun and games with the Elves, visit Santa to tell him what’s on your wish list this year and also let him know how nice you’ve been in order to be granted access into the Elves VIP Toy Store to choose your very own gift from Santa!  Your grotto tickets also gives you free access into the Grounds and Gardens, our Rare Breeds Farm Park, Adventure Play Area and not forgetting the best bit; a special, festive ride on a tractor and trailer to the Park to see our beautiful herd of Red Deer,  who look forward to seeing you boys and girls every year! Groups consist of no more than 10 children, two adults places are available per child and extra can be purchased on the day at the registration desk if group numbers allow.  Please make sure you arrive 10 minutes before your session time starts to allow for registration and to make sure you have the maximum time to enjoy the fun and games in the grotto before it’s your turn so see Santa.  Ticket Prices -  Children £10.50,  Adult £4.00.  This is a Pre bookable event and tickets can be purchased online

15th Annual Christmas Craft and Food Fair - Friday 6th December to Sunday 8th December – 9.30am – 4.00pm.   The 15th annual Christmas Food and Craft Fair promises to bring you the best selection of local produce from around Yorkshire including delicious festive food treats and unique crafts and gifts to make sure you can start or finish your Christmas shopping at Sledmere!   There will be entertainment going on each day with Carol singing from Sledmere Primary School,  Driffield Male Voice Choir and the East Riding Brass Band, creating a fantastic atmosphere for you to enjoy whist browsing almost 100 stalls.  Throughout the weekend our very own Coach House Cafe team will be providing delicious festive food and refreshments, to eat in or take away.  You can always rely on Sledmere to offer a traditional, warm and festive welcome and we look forward to sharing the holiday season with you. Entry Price £4.50 adult and £1.50 children – Sledmere Friends are offered Free entry on the Friday

Christmas Gift Wrapping Workshop - Tuesday 10th December 2019.  Arrival Time 10.30am and finishing at 1pm.   Join us in the Orangery for a “Hands On” gift wrapping workshop. Learn how to give your presents the “Wow Factor” this year by learning the tricks of the trade. All materials are provided and you will be able to take away your creations.  Tea/Coffee and Mince Pies will be served.  Cost £25 per person - Tickets for this event are limited, please purchase online.  Sledmere Friends will receive a discount of £5 per member.

Christmas Wreath Making Workshop - Wednesday 11th December & Thursday 12th December.  Arrival Time 1.30pm and finishing at 4pm.  Head Gardener Andy will be leading an afternoon workshop on making your own Christmas Wreath.  Set in the splendour of The Orangery, all materials are provided and you will be able to take your creation away.  Tea, Coffee and Minced Pies will be served.  Cost £25 per person – Tickets for this event are limited, please purchase online. Sledmere Friends will receive a discount of £5 per member.

Please visit for further information or telephone 01377 236637.