20+ Christmas Events for Kids across North East England (with no pre-booking required)

I've been asked a few times where my November What's On Guide is but the truth is, I found it too difficult to write. There is so much overlap with events between November and December and the same events run across many weekends so it was kind of getting repetitive. So my What's On Guides will be on holiday until January 2019 and instead, I've written this post which will hopefully give you a few ideas for places to visit over the next few weeks.

20+ Christmas Events for Kids across North East England (with no pre-booking required)

With so much hype and some Christmas events selling out within minutes this year, I thought it would be nice to put together a post featuring events that don't need to be pre-booked and where you can simply turn up. These are perfect for those quiet weekends where you have nothing planned and fancy a spontaneous day out or if you're the type of person who leaves everything until the last minute, you should find some inspiration here.

Ice Skating

Ice Skating generally doesn't need to be booked ahead and is a perfect festive family activity for kids and grown-ups. Our favourite ice rink is the one in Times Square (as it's real ice) but you can also skate at Beamish, Woodhorn, Alnwick Garden, Keel Square in Sunderland or  Wynyard Hall.

A Hot Chocolate Date in Hadrian's Tipi

You'll find Hadrian's Tipi in Keel Square, Sunderland or STACK Newcastle. This giant Tipi is both dog and family-friendly. Filled with fire pits and live or festive music, it's the perfect place to stop for a festive hot chocolate date with the kids. No booking is required. Find out more here. 

Christmas Farms

Whitehouse Farm is running two Christmas events this year. Their Winter Wonderland is always magical and does not require pre-booking (pay on arrival). If you visit mid-week, you can visit Father Christmas without booking ahead between 10:30am-2pm (ideal for pre-schoolers or home-schoolers) but if you're visiting over the weekend and would like to visit Father Christmas, pre-booking is required. There's lots going on including Santa tractor rides, elf school, letter writing, cookie decorating and more.  Find out more here.  (from £9.86 per adult and £8.87 per child, Under 2s free)

Santa Weekends are also running at Hall Hill Farm and although you can pre-book tickets, this isn't essential and you can simply turn up on the day too. There's the chance to visit Santa, sing carols around the Christmas tree, watch a Christmas puppet show and more. Find out more here.  (from £29.95 per family)

20+ Christmas Events for Kids across North East England (with no pre-booking required)

Indoor Events 

intu Metrocentre's FREE Santa's Grotto will return from 17 November - 24 December. Each child will receive a free gift from Santa. Pre-booking is not required but it may be busy during peak times. Find out more here.

Woodhorn is hosting a special light installation exhibition this Winter. The 'Coal Forest' will transform the site into thought-provoking art and light installations which I bet is magical as the sun starts to set. Visit from 1st December and children will be able to create their own gem light too (included with admission). There's no pre-booking required and while you're there you can try some skating on Woodhorn's rink too. Find out more here. (from £6.50 per adult per annual pass, under 16s are free. Free if you're already an annual pass holder).

On 9 December, The Bridges is hosting their very own reindeer dash with Dick from Dick and Dom making a special appearance. Entry costs £3/£5 on the day and includes a reindeer nose and antlers, a warm-up with Santa and his reindeer plus a fun run around the centre, carols and a medal ceremony. All to raise money for local charity CHUF. Find out more here. 

The Polar Express at Life Science Centre is always a nice festive treat. This 6-minute festive journey to the North Pole is suitable for those over 1.2 metres tall and is included with regular admission/does not need to be pre-booked. Perfect when combined with ice-skating in Times Square. Find out more here. Prices from £36 per family (includes full admission to Life Science Centre) or included if you're an annual pass holder.

Fancy taking part in a random act of kindness? Check out this special event at Seven Stories running from 3 December - 27 January. You can drop in and create stories, letters, pictures and performances to say thank you to someone for the help you've received this year and you can help the Seven Stories team gift-wrap books to give away locally. Included with regular admission. Find out more here. 

How about joining in with some carols at The Word? They have put together a fab programme of performances which are free to attend - simply turn up. Find out more here. The Word will also be hosting drop-in Christmas crafts on 15 and 22 December between 11am-1pm. Crafts are charged at £1 each and there's no need to book - simply drop-in. Find out more here. 

If you're looking for some Christmas crafts, Preston Park is running Christmas-themed crafts every weekend throughout December. Activities include Christmas Cards, Reindeer Food and Decorations. Crafts are included with admission or free if you're an annual pass holder. Preston Park and Museum is always nice and festive at this time of year too. Find out more here.

20+ Christmas Events for Kids across North East England (with no pre-booking required)

Visit a Garden Centre 

Garden Centres are such a fab way to get into the Christmas Spirit without spending a fortune. I love wondering around the lights and pretty displays (and treating myself to a new bauble) and many now have visiting reindeer too.

Help a charity 

If you're at a loose end, how about spending time with the family helping out a local charity? You could pop to the supermarket or go through your cupboards and donate or volunteer in a local food bank, sort through old toys (which are still in good condition) and take them to a charity shop or make crafts with the kids to sell to friends and family and donate the cash to charity.

Santa Trains 

On Sunday 2 December (11am-3pm) you can hop aboard the FREE mini Santa Train next to Wylam Brewery in Exhibition Park. No pre-booking required. Donations are welcome. Find out more here.

Outdoor Events 

There's a cute little Elf Trail at Wharton Park in Durham running from 1 December - 6 January. Trails cost just £1 and you'll be rewarded with a small Christmas treat on completion. Trails are available from the cafe daily from 10am-4pm. Find out more here.

There's also a Snowman Park Trail at Hardwick Park. Again, trails are just £1 and can be collected from the cafe. The trail runs from 1 December - 6 January. Find out more here

Alnwick garden is running lots of festive events throughout November and December including activities that don't need to be pre-booked and are included with regular admission or your annual pass. These include street theatre and walkabouts from Olaf, The Christmas Belles, The Snow Lion and Winter Wonderland Birds, weekend Christmas markets and a Winter Trail and Garden Crafts. Find out more and check activity dates here.

7 December is the date for this year's Camel Parade in South Shields. With actual camels, Spark! Drummers and a fireworks finale. The event is FREE to attend and you simply need to turn up near Haven point (starts at 5pm). Find out more here. 

If you love Christmas lights, Illumination the Gardens at Washington Old Hall may be the event for you. They are staying open later and the hall's garden will be brought to life with ribbons of light and decorations. This event runs from 1-24 December and is included with regular National Trust admission (or free for members). No pre-booking required. Find out more here. 

How about the Mrs Claus Christmas Trail at Gibside? Use the trail to find your way around the gardens and find out all that Mrs Claus has been up to in the run-up to the big day. Trail runs from 1-23 December and is included with National Trust admission (or free for members). No pre-booking required. Find out more here.

50 Christmas Trees Celebrating 50 Years at Wallington looks like a lovely event. Discover 50 trees in the hall and grounds which have each been decorated by staff and volunteers with something that has special meaning to the estate. This trail runs from 24 November - 23 December and is included with regular National Trust admission (or free for members). No pre-booking required. Find out more here.

20+ Christmas Events for Kids across North East England (with no pre-booking required)

Fenwick's Window and Snowman Cafe 

Fenwick's Window is always free to visit with no booking required and will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit. This year, you can pop into the Snowman Cafe on the lower ground floor for tea and a snowman-themed cupcake too (again, no booking required). Make sure you don't push in though! 

Newcastle Christmas Village 

I am so excited that Newcastle finally has our own Christmas Village. Located in Times Square and free to drop in at any time, you'll find a Bavarian Beer Hall, Live Oompah Bands, Log Cabins, German Food Village, Craft Market, Christmas Tree, Fire Pits, Carousel, Outdoor Ice Rink and more. Find out more here. 

Visit Reindeer 

There are lots of places across the North East where you can turn up and visit/feed reindeer, in fact, I have a whole post dedicated to just that here.  Azure Garden Centre in Cramlington also has a special Reindeer Retreat Cafe this year. You can't book - simply turn up and enjoy a turkey sandwich or hot chocolate after visiting their reindeer. Find out full details over on this Facebook post. 

20+ Christmas Events for Kids across North East England (with no pre-booking required)

Christmas at Beamish

Christmas at Beamish runs from 17 November - 24 December. There's lots going on including Santa's grotto, Beamish Bazaar, Ice Skating, Winter Fun Fair and of course lots of festive decorations and baking. A time slot to visit Santa in his grotto can be booked on arrival. Find out more here.  Admission charges are from £49.50 per family (with access across the year) and under 5s go free.

Visit a Christmas Market 

There are hundreds of Christmas Markets taking place across North East England again this year and most are either free to visit or don't require pre-booking. You can check out a full list of Christmas Markets here.

Watch a Christmas Movie at the Cinema 

The Grinch is out now and as it's certified U and only 90 minutes in length, it's the perfect festive film for the whole family. If you avoid peak times, you shouldn't need to pre-book. Cinemas often show older Christmas Kids Films on Saturday and Sunday mornings throughout December at a discounted price too - keep an eye on your local cinema for details.

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  1. You're a life saver, we've no events booked in the diary yet and this is so helpful. I fancy a few of these for us!

  2. Ahh! What a fab post! There is so much going on up here over the festive season. I am wanting to go to a Christmas market and take the kids ice skating :)


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