Family events

Hever Castle will be playing homage to traditional Christmas tales and rooms of the Castle will be decorated and themed around stories including the Nutcracker, The Tailor of Gloucester and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Outside visitors explore a festive interactive trail themed around Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Christmas Carol. After dusk the gardens will be illuminated with up-lighting and colour washes. Visitors will be able to visit Father Christmas in his snow-dusted grotto, ride the carousel, enjoy vintage fairground stalls (£1 per go) and roast chestnuts, and pose for a picture with a husky (suggested £2 donation towards Siberian Husky Welfare Association). Daytime prices: adult £17.25, child £9.75. (Wednesday’s to Sunday’s from 24 November and daily from 10 to 24 December). Father Christmas visits £11.95 (pre-booking only). www.hevercastle.co.uk                                                      

Victorian Christmas at Osborne, Isle of Wight, will feature traditional games, a traditional carousel, jovial entertainers, a Victorian falconer and toy making workshops . Visitors can meet Father Christmas and some familiar Dickensian characters in the festively dressed rooms. NEW magical festival lights will light up the grounds. Tickets adult £15.90 child £9.50. Additional charge applies to see Father Christmas. (1 and 2 December).  www.english-heritage.org.uk

The festive Santa Special steam train carriage offers a magical trip on The Watercress Line in Hampshire. Santa and his jolly helpers will visit children in their seat with a gift. Grown-ups will be treated to white wine and mince pies, whilst children enjoy a soft drink and a gingerbread man. Each child will also receive an activity pack to keep them entertained on an enchanting one hour journey and everyone is encouraged to join in with favourite Christmas songs. Advanced booking essential (1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 19 to 24 December). Prices from adult £18, baby under 1 year £10. www.watercressline.co.uk 

Legoland® at Christmas, Windsor Resort will be offering over 30 rides, shows and attractions. At Miniland, guests will be able to spot special LEGO additions to London and Scotland, including a Christmas market in Covent Garden, magical lighting and LEGO Father Christmas delivering his gifts. Families will be able to build together, adding to a festive LEGO scene, marvel at the stunning eight metre high LEGO Christmas Tree and take part in a LEGO scavenger hunt. Elves will be looking for little helpers to help build LEGO gifts to take home and write letters to Father Christmas. Children will be able to meet Father Christmas in his magical grotto and receive a LEGO gift. Tickets £36 per person. (1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 – 23 December) www.legoland.co.uk

Visit Gilbert White’s House Museum at Selborne in Hampshire for a Mulled Wine Weekend and enjoy the house dressed for Christmas cheer with live entertainment, wassailing, children’s crafts, Christmas shopping. (1 December).  FREE gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk

A Christmas Carol celebrating the 175th anniversary (Saturday 24 November to Sunday 23 December) Eastgate House, Rochester. Adults £5.50, Under 5s Free. www.visitmedway.org/eastgate-house

Festive festivals

The Dickens Festival of Christmas at the Historic Dockyard Portsmouth is back this year bigger and better than before, with the return of all the family favourites too. Fagin’s Tavern is back in the Spiegeltent, our traditional Father Christmas dressed in green and street performers galore. This year there is a NEW Gin & Prosecco Parlour for the grown-ups.  Adult £15.50, child £13.50. Concessions available. (30 November to 2 December). www.historicdockyard.co.uk

A Christmas Festival in Southampton city will be themed around a traditional German market with stalls selling festive gifts and treats and daily entertainment including a ‘Flying Santa’. FREE entry (16 November to 23 December). The Grade I Listed Tudor House offers a step back in time to meet the Victorian-costumed staff, meet Father Christmas and take a cellar light tour.  Children will be able to enjoy a craft workshop and complete a festive mini-trail. (8 to 9 December). FREE entrance, charges apply for some activities. www.tudorhouseandgarden.com.

The Biggest Christmas Ever at Blenheim Palace runs from 23 November to 6 January. The programme for the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site will include a NEW Christmas Market in the Great Court (23 November to 16 December). During the day a NEW Cinderella: The Fairytale Experience will take over the Palace State Rooms dressed to depict the Stepmother’s drawing room, the Ugly Sisters’ room, and Cinderella’s room, the crystal world of the Fairy Godmother, the Prince’s charmingly grand room and on to the Long Library, transformed into a glass-inspired Ballroom. In the evening, The Illuminated Trail will light the Capability Brown landscaped parkland with, NEW for 2018, over a million pea-lights, lasers and projections (23 November to 1 January). Prices: The Cinderella Experience admission is from Advance adult £27.00, child £15.50. The Illuminated Trail £18 Adult, £12.50 Child. Combined tickets are available. blenheimpalace.com/christmas

Kick-start the festive period at Cholderton Farm near Salisbury. The Christmas Craft Fair will feature stallholders displaying a range of beautifully handcrafted goods. Tickets £2.50 per person by online advance booking only (24 November). Breakfast with Santa in the Ewe Tree Cafe with a tasty breakfast served by the elves, a small wrapped gift per child. Join the elves after breakfast for an animal handling session. Children must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult, free of charge, with adult breakfasts available to purchase from the café on the day. (15 to 23 December) £9.95 per child. Santa’s Grotto (15 to 23 December) £8.50 per child to include a small gift and craft activities in the Grotto & Activity Barn. Book a timed slot at choldertoncharliesfarm.com.

TOP ICE RINKS

A NEW winter attraction,  Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland will provide a festive trail featuring spectacular Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes from around the world. The illuminated trees will run throughout the historic Victorian gardens and onto the award-winning seafront. A 60ft feature tree will host light and sound shows throughout the festive period. Further entertainment will include live music around the resort, as well as an alpine market, ice skating under the stars and Santa’s Grotto. (16 November to 2 January). christmastreewonderland.co.uk.

Windsor On Ice at the Alexander Gardens will feature two ice rinks one fully covered and a smaller open air rink (17 November to 6 January). Adult £12.50, child £10.50 www.windsoronice.com

The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink in its atmospheric setting at Brighton. (3 November to 13 January) royalpavilionicerink.co.uk

Tunbridge Wells Ice Rink takes place in the natural amphitheatre at Calverly Grounds (16 November to– 1 January, closed Christmas Day). Pre-book tickets at www.tunbridgewellsatchristmas.com.

The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market and Ice Rink situated in the historic Inner Close, is widely regarded as one of the best Christmas Markets in the UK (Christmas Market 17 November to 3 January). Ticket bookings from 1 September. www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk