Review & Top Tips | Customs House Panto South Shields 2019

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Review & Top Tips | Customs House Panto South Shields 2019

Customs House Panto | Overview & tickets

This year's Christmas Panto is Snow White and runs from 27 November - 5 January. Tickets are available from £9.99 - £21.

Top Tips for Driving to Edinburgh Christmas Markets with Kids

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Christmas is definitely one of my favourite times of the year and one of the best ways to get into the festive spirit is to visit a Christmas Market. There are so many to choose from across the UK and Europe and this year, we decided to take a road trip with the kids up to Edinburgh. 

Top Tips for Driving to Edinburgh Christmas Markets with Kids

Driving to Cornwall from Newcastle with Kids | Our nine day itinerary for February Half Term

Please note: This trip is a combination of hosted press stays (marked with a *) and accommodation/ experiences we have booked ourselves. 

Driving to Cornwall from Newcastle with Kids | Our nine day itinerary for February Half Term

I have so many happy memories of family holidays to Cornwall when I was younger. We used to spend our evenings walking around beautiful harbours and days filled with fun activities. It's such a beautiful part of the world and really reminds me of Northumberland in a lot of ways. I remember being intrigued to learn that those living in Cornwall have a secret language and driving through the single-track roads and narrow streets always felt like a real adventure. Steve has never visited Cornwall before and I know he'll adore the area as much as I do and for years I've been meaning to plan a family trip but something has always got in the way. We *almost* visited a few years ago and even had a lovely cottage booked but then something came up and we had to cancel.

Review & Top Tips | Gala Theatre Durham Panto 2021

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Gala Theatre Durham Panto |  Overview & tickets

This year's Christmas Panto at Gala Theatre Durham is Robin Hood. It runs from 24 November - 9 January and tickets are available from £7 - £18 (£54 - £62 for a family ticket) which I would say is a mid-range price to pay for a panto. There have been no increase in ticket prices this year. 

The best child-friendly restaurants near Newcastle Theatre Royal

You'll find Newcastle's Theatre Royal in a prime location on Grey Street. The Theatre Royal is home to some fantastic family theatre. Over the years we've watched all sorts from The Tiger Who Came to Tea to Gangsta Granny and of course, the hilarious annual panto.

The best child-friendly restaurants near Newcastle Theatre Royal


20+ Christmas Events for Kids across North East England

Advert - I have worked with many of the attractions mentioned in this post this year and some attractions have paid to be included in this post as part of that on-going relationship. 

Other Christmas Posts you may like: 

Enchanting Christmas Celebrations at Beamish

Christmas at Beamish, The Living Museum of the North runs from 27 November - 24 December this year (check their website for opening hours and booking). All visitors should pre-book a time slot in advance. As always, there is lots going on over the festive season with traditional festivities from across the decades to enjoy. 

As always, activities are included with your admission / annual pass unless stated. 

Highlights include: 

  • Hop aboard a traditional tram or bus and be immersed in an enchanting Christmas through time

  • Wander through Elf Wood and look out for the mischievous elves in their houses 

  • Have a go at the Elf Trail and try and spot the naughty elves hiding around the museum (download a free trail map from the Beamish website)

  • Try yuletide treats in the sweet shop and bakery in The 1900s Town 

  • Admire the traditional festive decorations at Ravensworth Terrace 

  • Pop by the festive market stalls and pick up a gift

  • Take a spin on the Gallopers in the fairground (small additional charge) 

  • Visit Francis Street in the 1900s Pit Village and discover how miners and their families celebrated Christmas in Edwardian times 

  • Enjoy a festive hot chocolate and visit the Pit Ponies 

  • Discover a forties Christmas in the 1940s Farm and see how Christmas was celebrated at home during the Second World War when rations were in place

  • Enjoy Christmas celebrations in the 1950s at the Welfare Hall 

Additionally, during weekends and school holidays,visitors can enjoy: 
  • 27 & 28 November - Father Christmas will be out and about around the site during the day in a traditional car. Make sure you give him a wave and cheer as he passes. 

  • 27 November - Father Christmas will be escorted by a marching band. Keep an eye out for him as he passes through The 1900s Town and around site (there will be no parade this year) 

  • During weekends in December in the run up to Christmas, spot Father Christmas travelling around Beamish via various modes of traditional transport. Maybe even a bicycle or horse and carriage. Don't forget to wave and cheer as he passes.

  • Enjoy a traditional Christmas Dinner in The 1900s Town pop-up tearoom 

  • Take a ride on the Waggonway in the 1820s landscape 

  • Enjoy live festive music from The 1900s Bandstand (weekends)

Find out more about visiting Beamish this festive season and book your time slot here:

We are hoping to visit in December and I will share some photos if we do. Remember, the outdoor areas of Beamish are dog friendly. 

Visiting Father Christmas at Beamish 

This year, you can visit Father Christmas in his Grotto at Rowley Station Goods Yard during opening museum opening hours. Grotto tickets must be booked in advance when you book your museum time slot. No Grotto tickets will be available on the day.

Grotto tickets are £6 each (for ages 0-16 - accompanying adults do not need a grotto ticket but do need to book a general museum time slot) and include a small traditional toy. Please read Grotto FAQs here before booking. 

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs Panto at Sunderland Empire 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs opens at Sunderland Empire on 10 December for just 3 weeks. Here are three reasons to book: 

1 - A stellar cast including Su Pollard as the Wicked Queen (who we loved watching on this year's Celeb Masterchef) and Miss Rory (of Boulevard Fame) as the naughty nurse.

2 - Price! Tickets are available from just £13 with concessions available for under 16s, seniors, groups and schools. 

3 - It's the 'North East's Canniest Panto'. Expect lots of laughs, seven bumbling dwarfs, a beautiful princess, a magic mirror, naughty nurse, hilarious jester and more..... 

Find out more and book your tickets here. 

Elfin' Around Interactive Theatre at South Shields Museum 

(ad) Elfin' Around Christmas Experience at South Shields Museum and Gallery
🎄 Join Merry Tinseltoes and Cookie Wintersnaps (Santa's favourite elves don't you know) for some festive fun in South Tyneside this December

🎄 This one hour magical theatre experience by Elfin' Around is sure to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Expect an interactive elf performance with lots of singing, dancing and more.

🎄 Tickets are £12 per person include: Interactive Elf Performance; Small gift for each child and Hot Chocolate.

🎄 Dates and times:
*Saturday 11 December 2021, 11am - 12pm, 1pm - 2pm, 3pm - 4pm
*Saturday 18 December 2021, 11am - 12pm, 1pm - 2pm, 3pm - 4pm

Christmas at Seven Stories 

The Seven Stories' elves are going all out this year with twinkly lights, festive cheer and wonderful story times. All events have been planned with social distancing in mind and numbers will be limited. Here is a little taster of what to expect and available to book now: 

The Night Before Christmas Story Time 

A festive, interactive story performance with story time, games and activities. Find out more and book here. 

Breakfast with Mrs Claus 

Join Mrs Claus in the Seven Stories Cafe for festive storytime, a themed Christmas breakfast and a keepsake craft which you can take away. Find out more and book here. 

Afternoon Tea with Santa 

Join Seven Stories for an extra special yuletide Afternoon Tea. Elves will welcome guests and show you to your seats where you will enjoy a festive afternoon tea alongside stories and crafts with the elves. 

Afterwards, you will be taken to Santa's grotto (household by household) where you can say hello and ask Santa any questions in your personal visit. Find out more and book here. 

An Audience with Santa 

Bring your family to Seven Stories for an extra special audience with the man himself. Elves will be on hand to welcome and entertain everyone with storytime and festive crafts and a selection of seasonal canapes, sweet treats, festive bakes, mulled drinks and hot chocolates will be brought to your table where you can relax and enjoy. Find out more and book here. 

Christmas at Spilman's Farm, Thirsk 

🎅 Pick Your Own Christmas at Spilman Farming Spilman Farming 🎅

As you know, we are big fans of Spilman Farming. Their Christmas offering this year sounds fantastic! Book your tickets here:

🎅 Collect your own festive goody bag, pick your own festive hat and pick your own festive craft activity in the Winter Waiting Room on arrival.

🎅 Head to the festive barn which will be filled with magic and SNOW (and lots of it). Take a seat as the elves share their story of where snowflakes come from.

🎅 Next, you can visit Father Christmas in his festive grotto. Listen to his stories and there will be a chance to take own photos too.

🎅 Visit Mrs Claus' Gingerbread Workshop and with the help of Mrs Claus and the elves, decorate your own festive biscuit to take home AND pick your own Christmas present from Mrs Claus' extensive display.

🎅 Finish your experience with a traditional Christmas Disco with complimentary hot chocolate for the kids and mulled wine for the grown ups.

The experience lasts around 60 minutes. You can find out more and book here:

Nightfall A Steller Rainbow Winter Light Trail 

This trail takes place at Stewart Park in Middlesbrough from 2-5 December. Expect a magical family-friendly outdoor event with beautiful coloured light artworks around the park, an interactive children's train, storytelling, music, creative workshops and food and drinks stalls. 

Relaxed sessions are available 4-4:30pm and pathways around the park are fully accessible for wheelchair users and pushchairs. Find out more and book your tickets here. 


How to Spend 24 Hours in Liverpool with Tweens

During our half-term road-trip, we spent 24 hours in Liverpool. It was my first ever visit to the city and definitely a place where I left wanting more. I loved how much there was to do and the abundance of independent businesses and restaurants. I have a feeling it won't be long before we're back. We only brushed the surface but I'd love to share with you what we got up to and hopefully inspire you to book a trip of your own.

How to Spend 24 Hours in Liverpool with Tweens - The Royal Albert Dock

10 Reasons to Stay at Matfen Hall in Northumberland with Kids

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We fancied something a little different as a treat to end half term this year so packed ourselves and the kids up to spend a night at Matfen Hall in Northumberland in celebration of our 12th wedding anniversary. We had the absolute best time and I can't wait to share it with you. Matfen Hall is a grand 4* resort and it does feel pretty fancy but on the other hand, it is super warm and welcoming and not the kind of place you feel like you have to keep your children seen but not heard. If you're looking for a luxury family staycation in Northumberland, Matfen Hall really delivers. Here are 10 reasons to stay here with kids: 

10 Reasons to Stay at Matfen Hall in Northumberland with Kids  - Par 3 Golf Course with kids

Where to Visit & Feed Reindeer across North East England this Christmas 2021

Where to Visit & Feed Reindeer across North East England this Christmas

Visiting reindeer is always on of our Christmas highlights. Here is a quick guide to where you can visit them across North East England this festive season. Feeding will not be available at all venues so please do check this before you visit if it's important to you. 

Please let me know if you know of anywhere else - This post is a work in progress and will be updated regularly. 

Looking for other Christmas content? Check our these posts: 

20+ Christmas events for kids across North East England


Pirates Village Santa Ponsa | Jet 2 Holidays Review

We stayed at Pirates Village during the first week of October in 2018. The holiday was to celebrate my brother's 30th birthday (and first holiday abroad in 5 years!) plus it was my toddler nephew's first holiday abroad.

We travelled in term time as it's the only time Mark could get off work. Steve and Harry stayed at home for this trip (I'm not planning on taking Harry out of Secondary school to go on holiday) and I took Heidi and Jack out of school for the trip (I don't mind taking kids out of Primary School to go on holiday for 5 days).

My mam also came along with us so there were 6 of us in total. Pirates Village is such a fun hotel for kids and definitely a place I'd recommend to visit with children in Spain. 

Pirates Village Santa Ponsa | Jet 2 Holidays Review  - Hotel exterior
Pirates Village Exterior

10 Magical Christmas Events to Book Now

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10 Magical Christmas events to book in Gateshead now

Has anyone noticed that as soon as we hit November 1, Christmas has hit us in full-force? I'm actually surprised at how quickly it's come around and now that the kids are back to school after half term, my planning is in full-force. Many Christmas events have already sold out (some as much as a year in advance) so today I am bringing you 10 Christmas events across Gateshead which either don't require pre-booking or still have tickets available (at time of publication). There are some fantastic events on the list - let me know if you fancy any.......

The Big Blue Hotel Blackpool | Pleasure Beach Package & Deluxe Family Room Review

Blackpool is generally somewhere you love or hate. For me, I can take it or leave it but I am always drawn to the fact that it's not far to drive and there's absolutely loads to do for families there. I also enjoy visiting the illuminations. We've visited Blackpool as a family 3-4 times now and have previously stayed at the Premier Inn Bispham (good if you're on a budget), the Hilton (lovely) and a couple of B&Bs. I've always wanted to visit The Big Blue Hotel which is joined onto the Pleasure Beach so this October half term, I treated us all to an overnight stay. 

The Big Blue Hotel Blackpool | Pleasure Beach Package & Deluxe Family Room Review  - exterior photo

Santa on the Rooftop at Fenwick Newcastle | A Review

Please note, I do not know when tickets for 2019 will go on sale. Last year it was early October. As soon as I know, I will post in my North East Christmas Facebook group. Please join here if you'd like to keep in the loop. 

Yes, we are that family who visited Father Christmas before Bonfire Night but when my friend messaged me to ask if I wanted her spare tickets to see Santa on the Rooftop at Fenwick Newcastle, how could I resist? We sadly missed out on Fenwick Window's launch this year as we had already booked into Matfen Hall that night to celebrate our wedding anniversary and a trip to visit Santa on the Rooftop seemed like a very good alternative way to experience some of that special Fenwick Christmas magic.

Santa on the Rooftop at Fenwick Newcastle | A Review  - elves on roof

The Snowman at Fenwick's window 2018, etiquette and why I hate people who push in

Visiting Fenwick's Christmas Window is a tradition most families around the North East will carry out across the festive season and this year's window is nice and traditional - The Snowman. We tend to visit on launch night but couldn't make it this year so instead, visited on opening weekend. Perfectly paired with a trip to see Santa on Fenwick's Rooftop.

The Snowman at Fenwick's window 2018, etiquette and why I hate people who push in

Visiting the Adventure Playground & Outdoor Play Areas at Wallington Hall

Wallington Hall is a National Trust property in Northumberland. We've visited lots of times now but always tend to stick to the areas around the parks. They're just so tempting with kids and you're really spoilt for choice with not one, not two but three play parks within easy walking distance of the entrance. I'm hoping to explore the wider estate soon but this post is going to focus on Wallington Hall's wonderful parks. 

Visiting the Adventure Playground & Outdoor Play Areas at Wallington Hall
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