We know that things are looking a little different this year, but the excitement of Christmas will always stay the same. To help you out over the holidays, we’ve rounded up some of the best activities that you can still enjoy as a family to keep the festive spirit alive!

Getting out and about 

Salford 

Take a stroll around the twinkling MediaCity UK as it’s lit up into a winter wonderland throughout December and grab a takeaway hot chocolate at one of the many cafes situated around the plaza.

Pay a visit to the pop-up Christmas craft market in Eccles Shopping Centre on December 19 for unique gifts and local treats. Car parking for the centre is free to encourage visitors.

Spot the Elves on a special trail through Walkden Town Centre up until December 23. Grab a free map from The Dispensary or Clouds shop and answer festive-themed questions for a chance to win locally sourced prizes.

Oldham  

Look out for the Reindeer Parade Trail situated around Oldham Town. Each sculpture has been specially designed by a local community group and will be hanging around for you to spot and snap up until January 4.

And while you’re there- check out the Winter Wonderland project which has transformed café and shop windows into magical galleries. It’s an art exhibition not to be missed!

Meet Santa and friends in his Grotto at Lancaster Park and Animal Farm for a specially adapted outdoor experience running up until December 24. Children will receive a gift and a letter to write, as well as being able to enjoy all the fun on the farm, such as mini quads, swings, and zips lines. Tickets cost £6 for adults and babies under one and £8 for children and must be booked online.

Bolton 

Get exploring at Moss Bank Park in Bolton. Find much loved Christmas Characters using a map to navigate your way around. Children will win a certificate and a cup of hot chocolate on this Covid-safe outdoor adventure, which costs £3 per pack. Wellies recommended and four-legged friends allowed!

Book onto a Steam Train ride and enjoy some mince pies on East Lancashire Railway. Hop on at Bolton Street Station and take a full tour of the line on December 26, 27 or 28. Adults £13 and children £8.50.

Manchester 

Pay a visit to Santa’s Post Office and let the kids send their letters off at the special post box set up in the Manchester Arndale shopping centre. Print your letter template here and post them up until 12pm on Christmas Eve. Note that letters sent will receive an email reply.

Lightopia has returned to Heaton Park. Enjoy magical trails and immersive light installations after dark. The new route has been adapted to accommodate social distancing. Adults pay £20, children aged 3-16 pay £13 and under 3’s go free. Tickets run up until January 10.

Park up, get the popcorn out, and enjoy a film at the ChristmasCity Drive-In Cinema. Slots cost £40 per car (plus booking fees) and tickets run up until December 31.

 

Cheshire 

Wonder beneath the Christmas light trail at Dunham Massey and discover giant colour changing luminescent sculptures twinkling after dark. Tickets run up until January 10, but are selling fast.

Or embark on a special Peter Rabbit winter adventure activity trail through the grounds. Which friends will you spot? Find items and solve clues to earn a special badge and certificate. Extra £2 on admission to the grounds.

Staying in and get cosy- activity and craft ideas 

 

  1. The Lowry may be closed but they’re offering online downloadable activities for older children. Faina and The Snow Beast audiobook blends storytelling and science and costs just under £6

  1. Jingle all the way! Thread bells onto thick ribbon and tie or glue them onto lolly sticks and make some noise

  1. Write and decorate a special letter to Santa or craft handmade cards to pop in post for family and friends

  1. Create some fake snow sensory play using only baking soda. Add small quantities of water until you get the right consistency. Put into a big tray or box and add toys to dig up. Feeling messy? Why not add some glitter too!

  1. Create your own festive window display at home. Why not cut out some classic paper snowflakes using scissors (the ones we all know and love)

  1. Easy toilet roll and tissue paper trees can be crafted out of items you may already have at home. Here is a slightly easier version.

  1. Set up a DIY magical reindeer food station. Grab oats, seeds, sprinkles… whatever you can find, and let the kids create their own pot to leave out on Christmas Eve for Rudolf and friends

  1. Bake your own cookies (inspiration here) or decorate biscuits with icing and marshmallows to create melted snowmen

  1. Take the most festive family photo that you possibly stage! Pop on your best jumpers, wrap up in tinsel and create some memories. Self-timer comes in handy here!

  1. Track Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. Norad and Google Santa Tracker will both show where in the world he is… and of course, he comes back later if you’re still awake…