Best family Christmas breaks and experiences in the UK for 2023
Take a look at some of the UK's best attractions hosting festive events and Santa Sleepovers for a Christmas family break, including LEGOLAND, Warwick Castle, Paultons Park and more
Christmas is all about making memories with your family – maybe more so this year than ever before. If you're looking make this year extra special, a family-focused Christmas experience could be just the ticket to get your little ones in the seasonal spirit.
To help you find the best experience for your family, we've taken a look at some of the UK's top attractions offering family Christmas experiences with an overnight stay. Our list highlights some of the best available this year, with a breakdown of what's included and an example package price for a family of 4 so you can easily see the cost.
These packages are designed to be short and sweet, combining an overnight stay with Santa-themed fun to make it a mini-break to remember. They're not cheap, but if your budget can stretch this year then worth considering for the chance to make special family memories that will last a lifetime.
The Santa Sleepovers are probably best suited for younger children but our list has experiences suited for all types of families.
MFM tip: Be aware that these experiences do get booked up very quickly so we suggest you book as far in advance as possible. And if the dates you want are fully booked for this year, you may find some can be booked ahead for next year to secure your break.
More like this
Day tripping only? If you're looking for a 1-day experience without an overnight stay, we have listed a selection at the bottom of this article, including some great options for older kids too. And if you're looking for great family days out throughout the year, check out our family days out reviews, based on parenting journalists' experiences with their own families.
Best Christmas events for kids at a glance
- Best Christmas experience for LEGO lovers: Santa Sleepover at LEGOLAND, from £397
- Best educational Christmas experience: Santa Sleepovers at Warwick Castle, from £189
- Best Christmas experience for animal lovers: Father Christmas Sleepovers at Chessington World of Adventures, from £289
- Best Christmas experience for an activity-packed package: Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers, from £415
- Best Christmas experience for Peppa Pig fans: Christmas at Paultons Park, from £221
- Best Christmas experience for value: Christmas Sleepover at Gulliver's World, from £217
Our pick of the best Christmas events and sleepovers for kids for 2022
1. Santa Sleepover at LEGOLAND, Windsor
– Best for LEGO lovers
Package price for a family of 4: From £397 for a family of 4 for 1-Day Santa Sleepover, overnight stay and breakfast, including 1-day entry to Legoland | Age suitability: 4-11 | Parking info: Free at Resort Hotel | Nearest train station: Windsor & Eaton Central (LEGOLAND shuttle), Windsor & Eaton Riverside (10 minute walk) | Dates available: 25th Nov - 23rd Dec
LEGOLAND is being transformed into a winter wonderland this Christmas. From the 25th November until the 23rd December you can book a festive stay to create unforgettable Christmas memories. Enjoy the rides and wave to Father Christmas as he makes his way through the park on his sleigh.
The festive staycation package includes 1-day entry to the Theme Park, which will be fully decked out for Christmas, a complimentary breakfast and an overnight stay in a LEGO themed room or nearby partner hotel.
If you upgrade and stay at a resort hotel, you will receive additional benefits such as a free LEGO gift in your room, a Christmas gift and letter and evening entertainment, including Storytime with Santa.
You can pay an extra £20 per a child to visit Santa in his festive cabin, this is only available for people staying in the resort.
To find out more about LEGOLAND – not just at Christmas – read our full LEGOLAND review.
Pros: Good rides, free gifts and benefits
Cons: Extra cost to visit Santa
Book Santa Sleepover at LEGOLAND at: LEGOLAND Holidays
2. Santa Sleepovers at Warwick Castle, Warwick
– Best for an educational visit
Package price for a family of 4: From £189 for a family of 4 for 1-day entry, Christmas at the Castle, off-resort overnight stay & Breakfast OR from £439 for 2-day entry, Santa Sleepover, on-resort overnight stay & breakfast | Age suitability: 1-10 | Parking info: Free on resort | Nearest train station: Warwick Station (1 mile) | Dates available: 25th Nov - 23rd Dec
Warwick Castle are hosting Santa Sleepovers, full of festive activities. Explore the castle and be wowed by the gorgeous festive lights and scenery.
The basic package offers 1-day access to Christmas at Warwick Castle, an overnight stay at a nearby hotel and breakfast. For an upgraded trip away you can stay at the Knight's Village or Tower Suites. Stay here and you will get an overnight stay within the Castle grounds, 2-day access to Christmas at Warwick Castle, evening entertainment in the Knight's Village, an 'elf wake up call' where elves will come to visit you in your lodge, waking you up to the sound of sleigh bells and delivering a gift to your child. You also get to experience Stories with Santa on your second day at the Castle. Much like the smaller package, you will get a free breakfast and free parking too.
There are additional purchases to enjoy during your time at Warwick Castle. You can buy tickets to the Light Trail and ice skate around the castle walls to festive tunes. If you're staying at Warwick castle you can receive 20% off the usual ticket price for these attractions.
There's also the option to book for the day and enjoy Christmas at the Castle, without an overnight stay. Running from 26th November to 2nd January you can explore the castle and grounds, complete with festive decorations, stunning trees and a tasty Christmas food market. At an extra cost you can include Stories with Santa, where you'll go to meet the big man himself, a 45-minute ice skating slot on the open-air ice rink right next to the castle and the after-dark illuminated light trail through the grounds, making for a really magical day out.
For more details about the Castle all year round, read our full Warwick Castle review.
Pros: Educational, lots of festive activities included
Cons: Extra costs for ice skating and lights show
Book Santa Sleepover at Warwick Castle at: Warwick Castle Breaks
3. Father Christmas Sleepovers at Chessington World of Adventures, Chessington
– Best for animal lovers
Package price for a family of 4: From £289 for a family of 4 for 1-day entry to the zoo/SEA LIFE Centre and Winters Tail Event, Father Christmas Meet & Greet, overnight stay & breakfast | Age suitability: 8-13 | Parking info: Free | Nearest train station: Chessington South Station (10 minute walk) | Dates available: 25th Nov - 23rd Dec
Chessington World of Adventures is another theme park hosting a Santa Sleepover. However, unlike LEGOLAND you don't get access to the whole park, but you do get to explore the Winter's Tail event at Chessington and get free access to the zoo, as well as the SEA LIFE Centre.
Although not all of the rides are included, there's still so much to do during your fun-packed stay. Included in your package is an overnight stay in a themed Resort Hotel, 1-day entry to the Winters Tail Event, zoo and SEA LIFE Centre, a Father Christmas Meet & Greet, access to the Savannah Splash Pool and breakfast.
If you stay at the resort you get free parking and hotel entertainment.
If whilst you're there you want to explore the whole of Chessington World of Adventures and want to find our more about the park in general, read our full review.
Pros: Get access to the zoo, Winter Tail Event and SEA LIFE Centre
Cons: Doesn't include full access to the theme park
Book Santa Sleepover at Warwick Castle at: Chessington World of Adventures Resort
4. Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers, Stoke-on-Trent
– Best for an activity-packed package
Package price for a family of 4: From £415 for a family of 4 for 1-day entry to selection of rides, Santa's Grotto, lights show, Christmas Market, evening meal, overnight stay in resort hotel, buffet breakfast, waterpark session & crazy golf | Age suitability: 4-11 | Parking info: Free at resort | Nearest train station: Uttoxeter Station (10 miles) | Available dates: 25th Nov - 23rd Dec
Alton Towers offers a fantastic Santa Sleepover, similar to LEGOLAND. There is so much included and around the park you can find carol singers, and Christmas characters to boost your Christmas spirit.
On the day of your arrival you will get 1-day entry to a selection of family rides and attractions at Alton Towers, a visit to Santa's Grotto, entry into the Fantastical Lightopia Seasonal Wonderland Light and Lantern Trail, entry to the Towers Christmas Market, a festive evening meal and seasonal entertainment. To end the evening you can stay in one of Alton Tower's themed hotels.
The festive fun doesn't end there, in the morning you can enjoy a buffet breakfast and go for a session in the Caribbean-themed waterpark and compete with your family in 9 holes of crazy golf.
Although Alton Towers has rides for older kids this experience is best suited for younger due to the selection of rides and activities included in the package.
For extra details about Alton Towers, check our our full review.
Pros: Lots included in package, evening meal and breakfast included
Cons: Only limited access to theme park rides included
Book Santa Sleepover at Alton Towers at: Alton Towers Holidays
5. Christmas at Paultons Park, Romsey
– Best for Peppa Pig fans
Package price for a family of 4: From £221 for a family of 4 for 2-day entry to park, overnight stay in nearby hotel and breakfast | Age suitability: 2-8| Parking info: Free | Nearest train station: Southampton Central (10 miles) | Available dates: 3rd Dec - 23rd Dec
Little ones will love celebrating Christmas with Peppa Pig and her family at Paultons Park, where Peppa Pig World is decorated for Christmas. Join Santa's Christmas Wish Show for some festive tunes and dancing, then visit the big fella himself at Santa's Storytime.
Although seeing their favourite cartoon characters will be a huge draw for the kids, it's a special experience for the whole family. Be wowed by the Magical Illuminations all around the park, and take a look at the Musical Christmas Tree which has its own light show every 15 minutes. On your adventure, you will meet Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Reindeer and Billy and Belinda the Elves.
While some of the rides at Paultons will be closed for winter maintenance, there are plenty running as usual during the event including those in Tornado Springs and Lost Kingdom.
If that's not enough to put you in the festive spirit you can stay overnight at a nearby hotel and do it all over again with the second day ticket absolutely free. Fill up on a complimentary breakfast before heading out to the park for day 2.
Read our full review of Paultons Park to discover more.
Pros: 2-day park tickets, great value
Cons: Hotel is not on the resort itself
Book Christmas at Paultons Park at: Paultons Park
6. Christmas Sleepover at Gulliver's World, Milton Keynes
– Best for value
Package price for a family of 4: From £217 for a family of 4 for an overnight stay in a nearby hotel, entry to the park, Winter Wonderland experience, dinner and breakfast | Age suitability: 4-10| Parking info: Free | Nearest train station: Milton Keynes (3 miles) | Available dates: 2nd Dec - 22nd Dec
You can enjoy a great value overnight stay at Gulliver's World in Milton Keynes. Arrive at 4pm for check-in and watch the Gully's Christmas show. Then, the whole family will have a light festive evening meal followed by some evening entertainment.
The next day, after a great night's sleep you will get a bacon roll ahead of a festive fun-packed day. First on the itinerary is the Winter Wonderland & Santa's Grotto experience. Then, children can choose their own little gift from the Elf Workshop.
Finally, you have the rest of the day to explore all the Christmas rides and attractions open at Gulliver's World.
Pros: Great value, dinner and breakfast included, suitable for slightly older children too
Cons: Hotel is not on the resort itself
Book a Christmas sleepover at Gulliver's World at: Gulliver's Land Resort
How we chose these Christmas Experiences
When choosing the Christmas Experiences we looked at value, what's included and of course, festive fun!
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-6, instead it is a carefully selected group of experiences, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
Pic credits: Product website and press imagery
If you don't want to stay overnight, here are a few standout 1-day festive experiences.
- Hogwarts In The Snow – From the 12th September to the 15th January you can visit the Warner Brother Studios in Watford to see the iconic Harry Potter sets decorated for Christmas. Some of the festive scenes from the films will be recreated too, such as the Yule Ball. You will also see the behind the scenes of festive film making. Book now at Warner Bros Studio, £160 for a family of 4. If you do want to make it an overnight stay, Holiday Extras has nearby hotels and ticket packages.
- Christmas at Kew – From the 16th November to the 8th January you can visit Kew Gardens for their brilliant illuminations. It's a lovely family day out with market stalls all around and beautiful scenery to behold. From £65 for a family of 4 on See Tickets. If you do wish to stay over night, there are plenty of hotels nearby on Booking.com.
- Lapland UK – There's no need to travel all the way to Lapland for the fully immersive experience, Lapland UK has it all in a 3.5 hour day out. There are interactive sessions in the Enchanted Forest, Toy Factory and Mother Christmas Kitchen followed by a visit to The Elven Village and finally, the chance to meet Father Christmas himself. The toy your child makes at the toy factory will be handed straight to you (secretly) to gift on Christmas morning and keep the magic of Santa alive. From £59 per person, book at Lapland UK.
About the author
Chloe is a Digital Reviews Writer and Coordinator for Immediate Media's Parenting team. She researches and writes articles, recommending the best products for parents, ranging from best sleep aids to best playpens. She has a First-Class Honours Psychology degree where she developed a strong interest in child development.
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