By now, the holiday build-up is in full swing. As soon as the Halloween decorations went away, out came the John Lewis Christmas advert on TV, mince pies in the supermarket, and Christmas trees everywhere. The kids are already obsessing about their presents, so you’d better come up with some winter activities that will keep them busy and in high spirits while they count down the days until Father Christmas arrives. Here are three great spots to find holiday cheer in the run-up to the big day.
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
One of the most festive days out has to be to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, which is open from 21 November until 4 January 2015 (closing only on Christmas Day – when Santa and his elves are busy, obviously). Jump on the 60-metre-high Giant Observation Wheel to enjoy spectacular views of Hyde Park, wander around Santa Land, and while you’re at it, pick up some tree decorations at the bustling Christmas markets. For a truly arctic experience, take a stroll through real ice and snow at The Magical Ice Kingdom, where the temperature plummets to -8°C. At Bar Ice, the grownups can don special cloaks and gloves and enjoy a festive cocktail (in an ice glass, of course). Once it’s time to thaw out, head to the Famous Bavarian Village for a bratwurst and a seat by the fire. Soon you’ll be whistling Christmas songs along with everyone else.
The Natural History Museum Ice Rink
When the kids just want to skate, head to The Natural History Museum Ice Rink in South Kensington. The setting is picture-perfect: You’ll be surrounded by ornate Victorian architecture and sparkling Christmas trees with an Instagram-worthy moment at every turn. Pluck up the courage to hit the large ice rink, or take hands with your little ones on the smaller family space – at least until you get your ice legs back. Or, if you don’t have any under-12s to accompany, you can always warm up on the sidelines with a hot chocolate and get a bird’s-eye view of their figure-eights from the Café Bar balcony. If the kids have any energy left afterwards, combine your trip with a visit to The Natural History Museum to see the world’s most complete stegosaurus skeleton. No, it’s not exactly holiday-themed, but they’ll love it all the same.
The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre
If you loved Raymond Briggs’ book The Snowman as a child and the subsequent film starring David Bowie (yes, really), then you’ll be more than happy to take the family to the stage adaptation of The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre in Holborn. The show tells the magical story of a blossoming friendship between a boy and a snowman, and the theatre will be crammed full of entranced children and adults. Wordless scenes are half-mimed and half-danced, and there are plenty of cuddly costumes for small kids to get excited about. Best of all are the falling snow and awe-inspiring flying sequences, which will leave your mouths agape. The whole family will be singing “Walking in the Air” into their scarves all the way home.