This year my little two children - aged two and three years old are super excited for Christmas. This is the first year that they have both realised what is going on and it is so amazing watching the sheer joy on their face whenever they see a Christmas tree or sparkly lights. As this is the first year that they are understanding the magic of Christmas we are planning lots of day's out to really get them in the festive spirit and bring the magic of Christmas alive for them. If you have a young child and are wondering what to do with them this December, read on for some inspiration and to see what we have planned.
1.) Visit Santa
On Monday we visited Intu Metrocentre to visit Santa, visiting Santa was totally free and children receive a free gift during the visit. We visited on a Monday lunchtime and only had to queue for around 20 minutes to be seen, there was lots of colouring stations, games consoles and giant Playmobile characters to keep little ones occupied whilst you wait, which certainly kept my two entertained. When you get to the front of the queue an elf comes and greets you and takes your childs name and age and then you can go and meet Santa who is inside a giant Christmas tree, that is really cosy and festive inside. We got to see Santa for about five minutes and he was really lovely with the children and at the end they both got a good list certificate with their names on and a little Playmobile gift suitable to their age.
Visiting is totally free and you don't need to book you simply turn up and queue to be seen, you can visit anytime from now until Christmas eve (closes at 4pm Christmas eve). The grotto is open Monday- Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 11am-5pm. Visiting the Metrocentre is really lovely this time of year with all of the festive decorations and little stalls and getting there is super easy even if you don't drive with regular Stagecoach buses from Newcastle and tyneside.
2.) Fenwicks Window
If you are from Newcastle then you will know that visiting Fenwick's window is such a Christmas tradition. I love Fenwicks window and always remember as a child that as soon as the window was all festive that it would soon be Christmas. I have visited every single year since I was a child and it is something that I now do with own children each year too. At the weekend we took the children to see it and my three-year-old was totally amazed, she was pressing her little face up against the glass mesmerised.
This year the window is Beatrix potter themed and it is so lovely and will appeal to both adults and children alike. Fenwicks even have a special Miss Tiggywinkles pop-up cafe in store and they are selling lots of lovely Beatrix potter books and soft toys which would make a lovely gift.
We will be taking our children to see a pantomime for the first time this year now they are a little bit older. I always visited the pantomime as a child and loved it and my teen loved them too, so I am looking forward to taking my toddlers. We are going to see Aladdin at the Whitely Bay Playhouse starring Shane Lynch from Boyzone, prices start at just £14pp.
Other Pantomimes in the North East this year include Cinderella at the Theater Royal in Newcastle, Beauty & the Beast at the Tyne Theater Newcastle, Jack & the Beanstalk at the People's Theater in Heaton and also at the Gala Theater Durham, Sleeping Beauty at the Sunderland Empire and Dick Whittington at the Phoenix theatre in Blyth.
4.) Santa Train Ride
You can book to go on a Santa train ride at the Stephenson Railway museum at North Sheilds. You need to pre-book tickets which are £13 per person, price includes a ride on the heritage train, onboard entertainment and refreshments and children aged 1-12 years old will receive a gift from Santa. This is something that I know my children will love as they adore going on trains. You can book and find out the full details on the Stephenson Railway website.
5.) Ice skating at Life
This is something that I love doing with my teen and I am planning on taking my three-year-old too during December. Every year there is an outdoor ice rink outside of the centre for Life, near Central station in Newcastle. Open daily (except Christmas day, boxing day and new years day) from mid-November until 26th February 2017, Monday- Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday 10am-8pm and Sunday 11am-6pm. There is no need to book you simply turn up and pay on the day, although you do need to pre-book for Christmas Eve sessions. It costs £9 for an adult, children aged 5-17 £7 and children aged 4 and under costs £3, you can also buy family tickets for £25 for either 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children. Full details can be found on the Life website.
So this is what we have planned in the lead up to Christmas to keep our pre-schoolers entertained and excited for Christmas, what have you got planned? I would love to know in the comments below.