Thursday Photo #136

21 West Midlands Christmas days out

Update: Check out my new post for Best West Midlands Christmas days out 2019.

Here in the West Midlands, Christmas events for 2017 are selling out incredibly quickly. So, I make no apologies for publishing this so early and I would recommend purchasing tickets relatively soon. I’ve linked to all relevant websites, plus comprehensive reviews where available. If I couldn’t find a blog review, I have linked to the relevant page on Trip Advisor.

Thursday Photo #136

1. Santa’s Winter Wonderland – SnowDome, Tamworth

If you dream of a white Christmas, the Snowdome might just be the place for you. Follow the Christmas snow trail with walks, slides, sledges, snowball fights and snow tubes. If you’d prefer something a bit more solid underfoot, you can enjoy the atmosphere from a snow-free walkway.

The Winter Wonderland Christmas stage show sees Santa trying to create the best Christmas song ever with the help of his friends. You can also meet real reindeer in the animal village, and leave a letter for Santa in his talking post box.

From what I’ve read about previous years’ events at the SnowDome, children don’t actually meet Santa although they will see him on stage. So, if you’re hoping for a grotto experience this isn’t it. However, it does sound like great fun and probably the only way to experience a white Christmas in the UK!

Event dates: 17th November to 31st December 2017.



2. Polar Express – Telford Steam Railway, Shropshire

We were huddled together on the station platform when we heard it. A distant rumbling, accompanied by the sound of sleigh bells.

Before the train even arrives, you are submersed in the Polar Express experience. The soundtrack from the film plays on the platform and at the appropriate moment, the train arrives. The familiar conductor shouts, “All aboard!” And pyjama-clad passengers board the train, where the story continues.

Chefs dance through the carriages handing out hot chocolate and cookies. The staff take time to chat to the children, showing pictures from the storybook and bringing the Polar Express to life.

When the train arrives at the North Pole, Santa boards to give each child the first gift of Christmas – a bell from his sleigh. Passengers sing Christmas carols on the return journey to Santa’s workshop where children can get involved in craft activities before and after the journey.

This is my favourite Christmas experience that we’ve taken the children to. Santa was incredibly authentic and the staff totally bought into it. This event is now sold out for 2017. Tickets go on sale in the Spring and sell out by August, I would highly recommend booking early for next year if you haven’t managed to get a ticket this year.

Event dates: Selected dates from 1st to 23rd December 2017.



21 West Midlands Christmas days out 2017 Telford Steam Railway Polar Express

3. Christmas at Blithbury Reindeer Lodge, Rugeley

Blithbury Reindeer Lodge takes on the style of a Scandinavian winter wonderland ready for the festive experience. Visitors can experience a sleigh ride and a barn decorated with Christmas lights and a log fire. But of course, the main attraction is a visit to the beautiful reindeer that make up the largest working herd in England.

Take a lesson in elf school and meet Santa at Blithbury. On weekdays, the experience is aimed at pre-school aged children and in the evenings, there is an event for adults who can visit reindeer by night.

Do check the reviews on this one, it sounds like a magical experience but some of the trip advisor reviews from last year are a little scathing so it’s worth having a read to make up your own mind before booking. However, there is also a very positive review (below) from Otis and Us blog, who visited last Christmas Eve and loved it.

Event dates: Selected dates from 10th November to 24th December 2017.



4. Meet Santa – National Sea Life Centre, Birmingham

The National Sea Life Centre have recreated the North Pole in Birmingham but with a twist – there are penguins! Here, children can meet Santa in an Antarctic Grotto known as the Ice Adventure area. It is located next to the Gentoo penguin enclosure, where Father Christmas will hand out a gift to each child.

This experience is included in the Sea Life Centre admission price. There will also be a festive film in the 4D cinema and an underwater Christmas tree in the Ocean Tunnel. We have visited Santa in his Antarctic Grotto for the past few years and it is always a fun and educational day out.

Event dates: 25th November to 23rd December 2017.



National Sea Life Centre Birmingham Meet Santa

5. Santa Safari – Hawkstone Park, Shropshire

At Hawkstone Park, Santa’s grotto is located at the end of a network of festively decorated caves.

On arrival at the Hawkstone Park Hotel, visitors can have a hot drink before climbing into a Land Rover to head across the park. You drive under a Wishing Arch and head up the hill to the caves. Santa’s elves provide the entertainment in the tunnels and caverns before reaching the grotto.

Guests can also meet real reindeer and walk through a woodland fantasy that is lit up by illuminations.

Event dates: Selected dates from 1st to 23rd December 2017.



6. Christmas at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle host a very special and exclusive breakfast with Santa event in their imposing Great Hall. In the State Dining Room, guests can enjoy continental pastries before Santa arrives and waiters bring your full English cooked breakfast. Once everyone has eaten, the elves and Mrs Claus tell stories and entertain the children, while Santa gives each child a hand-picked gift.

Santa’s storytelling continues throughout the day, with both Mrs Claus and Santa entertaining guests with festive tales. The Great Hall is decked out for Christmas and the Princess Tower story takes on a festive twist. You will need to book in advance for breakfast with Santa, and book a slot on the day for both storytelling and the Princess Tower.

Event dates: Selected dates from 25th November to 24th December 2017.



Wars of the Roses at Warwick Castle, Warwickshire UK | The Wars of the Roses event at Warwick Castle is one of the most exciting battle reenactments you will see. With horses, actors and special effects, the whole thing is full of excitement for adults and children alike. Families will love staying in the Knight's Lodge at Warwick Castle in the West Midlands, UK for a full medieval experience.

7. Victorian Christmas – Blists Hill Victorian Town, Shropshire

If you yearn for a more traditional Christmas, look no further than Blists Hill Victorian Town. The celebrations and entertainment are based on the 1800s and of course, Father Christmas will be in his grotto to meet visiting children.

There will also be craft activities, a Christmas party and a pantomime. Visitors can watch a Punch and Judy show and ride in a horse and carriage or on a donkey. You can even take lessons in a Victorian school.

Event dates: 9th and 10th December; 16th and 17th December 2017.



8. Drayton’s Magical Christmas – Drayton Manor, Tamworth

This year is the 10th anniversary of the magical Christmas event at Drayton Manor. There are Christmas carols, light shows and a gift from Santa for all the children. His grotto is located in the Castle of Dreams, which is the centre point of the experience along with the Slide and Glide ice rink.

Selected rides within Thomas Land are open, along with the zoo and 4D cinema which is showing Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas. Each day ends with a short fireworks display and there will be extra treats for visitors on the 23rd and 24th December.

Event dates: Selected dates between 18th November and 31st December 2017.


Review: or watch our brief video below for a summary of the event.


9. Christmas Celebration Weekends – Cadbury World, Birmingham

This year’s Cadbury World pantomime is Aladdin, and Santa himself has his own stage show too. Every child receives a gift  from Santa after his short show, and he asks children to tell him what they want whilst on the stage.

There is an outdoor play area where hot drinks are available, and indoors visitors can enjoy the Cadbury chocolate tour and the rest of the attraction. The Christmas festivities are included in the admission price.

Event dates: Selected dates between 18th November and 23rd December 2017.



10. Real Ice Rink – Webbs of Wychbold, Worcestershire

Christmas at Webbs is a lovely experience, where families can ice skate together under a clear roof before warming up with a hot chocolate in the café. Skaters can hire skating aids including some that children can sit on.

There is also a Santa’s grotto with some festively decorated walkways leading to the room where Santa is waiting. The elves show you in to chat with Santa and have a photograph taken. After this, children can choose their own gift from a large selection.

Event dates: TBA



11. Magic Lantern Festival – Kings Heath Park, Birmingham

The Magic Lantern Festival will illuminate Kings Heath Park with vibrant colours. It is a dual culture festival with enormous lanterns and sculptures from a recreation of the Birmingham Central Library to a gingerbread house.

The lantern trail leads visitors through vividly lit paths adorned with hand made lanterns in all shapes and sizes. After completing the trail, visitors can head to the entertainment area where there  is food and drink, a Nordic Tipi bar, fairground rides and of course Santa’s grotto. Please note that the review is for last year’s event, which was held in a different location.

Event dates: 24th November 2017 to 1st January 2018.



12. Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham city centre

Every year, the Frankfurt Christmas Market signifies the start of the festivities in Birmingham. It is the largest German Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria with over 120 stalls ranging from traditional gifts and crafts to delicious food and drink. Gluhwein, mulled cider and weissbeer are all served and there is live music in Victoria Square.

The market is often accompanied by a big wheel and outdoor ice rink in Centenary Square. Details of this have not yet been released for 2017. If you’re heading into the city shopping, you can’t miss the Frankfurt market. It becomes very busy later in the day, particularly in the run-up to Christmas but there is always a fun, festive atmosphere.

Event dates: 16th November to 24th December 2017.



HIBS100 Homesense Christmas Party Birmingham

13. Santa Steam Specials – Severn Valley Railway, Worcestershire

Board the steam train at Kidderminster and travel to Arley, where elves will take you to meet Father Christmas in his grotto. Children will receive a gift from him and families are free to explore the festivities at the station. Enjoy seasonal music, hot roasted chestnuts and other Christmassy treats.

This year, the Severn Valley Railway are also hosting the Santa Sleigh Express. On this service, passengers travel from Kidderminster to Highley, where Santa boards the train and chats to each child individually.

There are a range of other Christmas experiences available on the Severn Valley Railway, including Christmas Carol trains, the Santa Herald and the festive service which sees the train running between Boxing Day and 2nd January.

Event dates: Selected dates between 2nd December 2017 and 2nd January 2018.



14. Santa Hunts – Black Country Living Museum, Dudley

Families unite towards a common goal at the Black Country Living Museum: finding Santa. Solve the clues to find Santa’s workshop, meeting characters from the past along the way. Children will receive a gift from Santa at the workshop.

During the search, you’ll come across mischievous gingerbread men, sprinkle magic dust and write a letter to Santa at the Victorian school. You can even send your letter up the chimney to him, then ask him whether he received it when you see him.

Event dates: Selected dates from 25th November to 24th December 2017.


Review: Please note, I can’t find a recent review of the Christmas experience so this is an overall review of the BCLM.

12 tips for a brilliant day out at the Black Country Living Museum near Dudley in the West Midlands. This is a living history museum that is perfect for visitors of all ages from small children to adults. It is an excellent, full day out with both food outlets and picnic areas available. Includes the Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust.

15. Enchanted Christmas Kingdom – Hatton Adventure World, Warwickshire

Children can visit Father Christmas in his grotto and tell him about their Christmas wish list. They’ll then receive a golden key, which will let them into the secret toy shop to choose a gift.

Festive entertainment includes the Christmas Cracker magic show and a celebrity Christmas quiz. There will be arts and crafts, a puppet show and a quest to find lost reindeer. In the festive farmyard, there will be carolling, a guinea pig village, funfair rides and adventure play.

Event dates: Selected dates from 25th November to 24th December 2017.



16. Santa Safari – West Midlands Safari Park, Worcestershire

Visitors arrive to see Father Christmas at an allocated time, to be greeted by Santa’s elves. They will take you to a magical sleigh, which will transport you to the North Pole. From there, you can walk along the festive path to Santa’s Grotto in a cozy log cabin. After visiting Santa, children can go into the elves’ workshop and choose their own gift.

There is a Winter Wonderland featuring penguin cove, a pantomime starring a sea lion and a Christmas animal encounter. Visitors can also drive around the safari route as usual to see all the animals.

Event dates: Selected dates from 11th November to 24th December 2017.



West Midlands Safari Park: An honest review - I was not asked to review this attraction and I have shared the negative points as well as the positive.

17. Santa’s Grotto – Dudley Zoo, Dudley

Santa’s grotto is set inside the walls of Dudley’s 11th century castle. Father Christmas has a special gift for the children, and after that they can head to see his reindeer preparing for Christmas Eve.

Admission to the festive event includes admission to the attraction itself, so after seeing the reindeer you can enjoy the rest of the zoo and gardens. You can find out what all the animals are doing for Christmas.

Event dates: 1st to 24th December 2017.



18. Breakfast with Santa – Wyevale Garden Centres, nationwide

Wyevale Garden Centres across the country host both breakfast and tea with Santa. There are several venues available across the West Midlands. The whole family can sit down to a freshly cooked breakfast, with smaller portions for the children. Later in the day, children can choose between a hot or cold meal, whilst adults enjoy an afternoon tea.

There are plenty of activities for children including colouring and decorating their own biscuit. Santa has a small grotto in the café and after their meal, children can go and chat to him. He has a selection of toys available, so children can choose their own gift.

Event dates: 18th November to 24th December 2017.



19. Winter Wonderland – Town Park, Telford

Visitors will find Santa in his snow-topped log cabin. There is an ice mountain to walk through, a winter carousel and a sleigh ride. You can visit both Gepetto’s Christmas toy shop and the elves’ mailroom to see Santa’s reindeers in the Winter village.

Families can also enjoy the rest of the woodland, exploring the fairytale themed areas and discovering favourite characters and their houses. There are some small rides, a maze, crazy golf and an ice rink. All of this is included in the admission price.

Event dates: Selected dates from 18th November to 23rd December 2017.



20. Santa’s Sleepover – Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Alton Towers offers a choice of three Santa sleepover experiences.

The classic Santa stay is for guests staying in the cBeebies hotel or the moon voyager rooms at the Alton Towers hotel. Children follow the elves through mistletoe land into the heart of cBeebies land. There, they will find Santa’s woodland grotto, where they can spend some time with Santa and have their photo taken with him.

The Explorer’s Santa Escape offers guests a morning feast of Mrs Claus’ home made food. Santa’s elves will entertain with their songs and there are tales of Sir Algenon’s North Pole adventures. The experience ends with a visit from Santa himself.

Enchanted Santa breaks are for guests staying in an Enchanted Village woodland lodge. The visit to Santa takes place in a magic teepee. Adults are greeted with a mulled wine, whilst children enjoy a hot chocolate. Mrs Claus leads the carol singing, whilst the elves entertain with Christmas crafts and Santa enchants visitors with storytelling.

Event dates: Selected dates from 26th November to 23rd December 2017.



Putting our Konfidence swim jackets to the test at Alton Towers waterpark

21. Christmas at the Botanical Gardens, Birmingham

The Christmas experience at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens takes place after dark. A coloured trail meanders between hedgerows and under trees, with festive colours and melodies creating a Christmassy atmosphere.

Trees are adorned with giant crystals, there is a flickering fire garden and a cedar coppice full of carol singing. The trail finishes on the lawn, where the aviary springs to life and dances to classic Christmas songs.

The experience ends with mulled wine, spiced cider or hot chocolate with roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows. There is a Victorian carousel and steam boat swing and a giant Christmas tree. Guests should look out for Santa and his elves along the route.

Event dates: 29th November 2017 to 1st January 2018.



Christmas in the West Midlands | There are some incredible events and days out going on in the West Midlands this Christmas. Children and their families will enjoy these experiences. Most of them involve a visit to Santa. There are real reindeer, festive lanterns and exciting decorations. Do check out these amazing experiences in Central England.

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  1. I LOVE Christmas and this has made me so excited about it. It’s ok to talk about Christmas because X Factor has started and that is the official countdown to Christmas! I’ve heard such lovely things about the Polar Express, I might look into this for the girls. And I would love to do a visit to Alton Towers at Christmas x

  2. LOADS of brilliant Christmas events going on near you this year! The Polar Express looks like my boys favourite from the list, but everything is so magical looking! 🙂

  3. Oh I LOVE Christmas in the UK. We’ll be in Bangalore this Christmas and although it will be interesting, a bit different, nothing beats Christmas at home. This is a fantastic list. It always surprises me how quickly things get booked up! #FamilyTravelTips

  4. What a great list! We love Christmas activities too. Meeting Santa and having those delicious season food and drinks are our family’s favorite.

  5. So many Christmas events! How wonderful! I try not to think about Christmas until at least after Halloween, yet thanks to travel plans we are almost done all our shopping for this year! #familytraveltips

  6. We love Christmas. Last year was spent in Australia so very different eating Christmas dinner in the heat! Very much looking forward to being back in the UK this year. What a great lisy of things to do in and around the Midlands. It always amazes me that people are so organised in getting things booked up! #familytraveltips

  7. I live in NY and all of this kind of stuff sells out so early.. like end of summer! Good reminder to check to see if we can still get a polar express experience… probably too late! I wish we had Christmas markets around here. There are some in NYC but its not like Europe. Plus nothing says Merry Christmas, quite like a zebra! Happy Holidays!

  8. Polar Express is my favourite Christmas movie, I’d love to take the kids to experience it in person! What a fab round-up! #familytraveltips

  9. There are an amazing list of Christmas events here!!!! these all sound so Christmassy!!! makes me think we should spend time in the UK one Xmas! #familytraveltips