How To Keep The Children Entertained Over The Holidays

The UK might be in tiers, but there are still plenty of family-friendly activities going on over the school holidays. From children’s shows to virtual cooking classes, here are the Christmas holiday activities worth booking in advance…

GET COOKING HERE: Waitrose Cookery School

The Waitrose Cookery School has a wide selection of virtual courses available over the festive period. Helping to keep the kids entertained are two free children's courses. On the first course, junior chefs will stir up a chocolate tiffin with white homemade chocolate tree decorations. The second course will see young chefs whip up chewy white chocolate and cranberry cookies, flavoured with pecans and fresh cranberries then dipped in white chocolate. 


FEEL FESTIVE HERE: Holkham Estate, Norfolk 

Holkham Estate has pulled together a full and varied December programme. The 18th-century stately home in Norfolk is hosting everything from ‘Canine Carol Concerts’ to private tours of its 25,000-acre estate’s nature reserve and gardens. There’ll also be a Christmas market, tractor rides and family bushcraft sessions, where children aged six and up can burn off some energy with den building, scavenger hunts, campfire building and outdoor craft activities.  
Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, NR23 1AB

TUNE INTO THIS: Royal Opera House, The Nutcracker Reworked 

Peter Wright's production of The Nutcracker has been enchanting children and adults alike since its first performance by the Royal Ballet in 1984. Drawing on Tchaikovsky's iconic score and designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman, this magical production will be streamed online for the first time ever. On Tuesday 22nd December at 7pm, tune into the performance at home, or watch it on demand until 21st January 2021. Tickets are priced at £16 per household.

GET CREATIVE HERE: Biscuiteers Virtual School of Icing

Biscuiteers has set up its ‘School of Icing’ virtually. Whether you’ve got a baking enthusiast wanting to improve their technique or someone who just fancies learning something new, it’s the perfect activity to get your children into the festive spirit. One of the team’s icers will lead the two-hour class via Zoom. Participants will master colouring, piping, feathering, line and flood icing. The day before the lesson you’ll be sent you everything you need in the post: a tin filled with un-iced biscuits, and a selection of icing colours and sprinkles. Classes are £85 which includes delivery of the icing kit. They are running throughout December with a different festive theme to each.

WATCH A NEW PERFORMANCE HERE: Dick Whittington at The National Theatre

Directed by Ned Bennett for The National Theatre, this brand-new production of Dick Wittington has been freshly updated for 2020. The performance, which will be live streamed via National Theatre At Home, has everything you’d expect from a feel-good panto – slapstick jokes, talking animals and catchy songs. Catch the performance live on 23rd December at 3pm, or watch it on demand until 27th December. Tickets are free. 

GET THE KIDS OUTDOORS HERE: Festive Lights At Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens will remain open over the festive period so there’s never been a better time to take the kids. Returning for its eighth year, Kew’s winter trail has old favourites and new light installations. Visitors can expect bursts of colour and enchanting optics as they explore Kew Gardens’ Unesco World Heritage landscape after dark. New for this year, visitors can wander through a tunnel covered with a canopy of glowing, colour-changing stars.
Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE; until 3rd January

WATCH A SHORT FILM: A Christmas Carol By Polka Theatre

Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre is giving online viewers a little Christmas treat with a free short 15-minute performance of A Christmas Carol. Taking inspiration from Dickens’ original story, this short adaptation tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by three festive ghosts on a lonely Christmas night. The film will be available to watch online from 19th December for those who sign up to the Polka Theatre newsletter.

ENJOY A FESTIVE AFTERNOON HERE: Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink 

For a fun afternoon out, take the kids to Hampton Court Palace ice rink, which will remain open to the public until the new year. In the gardens of Henry VIII’s historic home, this open-air rink offers visitors the chance to skate in the surrounds of a Tudor palace, with plenty of space for adults and little ones. Once you’ve hit the rink, head to the food stalls on site for a warming drink and festive snack. Tickets start from £12 for children and £17 for adults.
East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AS; from 3rd December

HEAD TO THE NORTH POLE: Virtual Sleigh Ride 

There’s still time to book a virtual sleigh ride from the comfort of your home. The interactive experience from Wonder Adventures will include stories, songs, a virtual sleigh ride and a personalised shoutout for each child participating. Little ones can even learn an elf march from Santa’s elves. Tickets are priced at £12.99 per household.

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