Where to see Father Christmas in York this year.

For parents today, taking their children to meet Santa is somewhat removed from the shopping centre grottos of yesteryear, and York is aiming to secure its reputation as the most festive city in the UK by offering the most remarkable Santa experiences in the country – from sweet adventures with the great man to magical encounters on a steam train.

“Christmas is the most magical time of the year, and for a generation brought up on a world of mobile gaming and tablet computers, anyone wishing to experience that kind of magic in the real life  has a huge challenge,” comments head of marketing and communications at Visit York, Paul Whiting. “York has risen to this challenge in remarkable fashion, with attractions throughout the city and beyond devising the most incredible set of Santa encounters anywhere in the country – creating fairytale fantasy visits with the great man that children will remember their whole lives.”

Sweet adventures

Santa’s Sweet Adventure at York’s Chocolate Story, from Saturday 23 November to Tuesday 24 December invites guests to meet Santa on special themed tours, in which they complete a mission to help him save Christmas!  On the way, children will experience Christmas games and learn festive facts about iconic confectionery brands and how chocolate was involved in Christmases past.  There will also be an opportunity to make Christmas-themed lollies and watch special festive demonstrations with the talented chocolatiers. 

Santa’s Sweet Adventure includes meeting Santa, commemorative photo, festive chocolate making activity: child: £17.50, child under 4-years-old: £6.00, adult: £9:50.  yorkschocolatestory.com

Baby’s first Christmas

A perfect way to celebrate a baby’s first Christmas, Baby Meets Santa at Web Adventure Park is a relaxing, sensory, two-hour Christmas experience that gently introduces little ones to Santa in a festive environment, with activities and Christmas songs led by elves. There is also the chance for individual family time with Father Christmas in his grotto to capture that all-important first baby and Santa photo.  Selected dates from Thursday 12 – Friday 20 December from 10am to 12 noon

Ticket prices: £10 child, £1.75 adults, available in person or by calling 01904 692221.  webadventurepark.co.uk

Enchanting Evenings at Castle Howard

Taking the experience to another level Castle Howard’s exclusive evenings with Father Christmas start with a festive tea party in the Grecian Hall before setting off on a candle-lit trail around the beautifully decorated historic house, before they find Father Christmas and his friends in the magnificent Great Hall, which is filled with one of the largest indoor Christmas trees in the country!  Children are invited to gather by the tree and join in with music and stories before receiving their personalised present from Father Christmas, with photo opportunities too. 

The event runs from 6pm to 8pm (approximately) on selected dates from Sunday 1 December to Monday 23 December.  Please note: accompanying adult tickets must be purchased upon booking and will include admission into the event and refreshments. Evening with Father Christmas tickets do not include admission to the house and grounds during the day. £75.00 per child, £15.00 per accompanying adult.

Castle Howard is also hosting two other Father Christmas experiences – for the Audience with Father Christmas, the big man and his friends gather round the fire, telling stories and singing songs before handing out personalised presents and posing for photos.  For those looking for a more ‘spur of the moment visit’, the drop-in Santa’s Grotto in the Courtyard Grotto offers an easy way to meet Father Christmas and his elves in the Courtyard Café.

Audience with Father Christmas: Child ticket includes: visit to Father Christmas, access to House & Gardens, invitation from Father Christmas and a personalised gift.  Each session lasts approx 45 minutes at selected times throughout the day from Saturday 23 November to Monday 23 December 2019 (please check the booking page for individual dates and times).  £27.50 per child. NB: Adults accompanying children are required to purchase either an inclusive (House & Gardens) or Gardens only ticket.   Drop-in Santa’s Grotto is just £8 per child, with timed slots available each day and no booking necessary.  castlehoward.co.uk

Better than the Polar Express!

For a festive journey with a difference, join Santa and his special helpers on a magical adventure aboard the Santa Express, which runs on selected dates in December.  Departing from Pickering, Grosmont and Whitby Stations, these Santa Specials bring Christmas to life and give children the chance to meet the legendary man in his grotto on board the train. Children will also receive a fun activity sheet with colouring pencils and a juice drink when they visit Santa plus an age appropriate present along with a North Yorkshire Moors Railway Santa hat.  The festive round trip lasts approximately one hour from the departure station and each Santa Express Ticket includes a delicious mince pie and a warming hot drink for everyone with a little alcoholic tipple for the adults.  Tickets cost £20 each and pre-booking is essential to guarantee the time slot and date – please visit nymr.co.uk.

Float to Santa’s secret grotto

The Santa Cruise experience takes to the River Ouse on Saturday 30 November until Monday 23 December.  The one-hour trip includes a welcome to the Grotto, cleverly hidden away underneath Lendal Bridge, a personalised present from Santa hand delivered to each child, face painting, refreshments, fun and surprises. 

From £13.00 per person.  citycruisesyork.com

Tales with Father Christmas at Treasurer’s House

Visit this beautiful National Trust property next to York Minster for a behind-the-scenes hard hat visit across the roof tops to the attics where Father Christmas has been set up with a special grotto, and is telling stories and handing out presents.   Ages 4+. 

£8.50 per person plus entry into house, booking essential.  Call 01904 624247 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk Sunday 1 December – Saturday 21 December weekends only.

Polar Explorer breakfast

Feed themselves and make some reindeer food!  Children can enjoy a scrumptious North Pole breakfast and time to meet Father Christmas in his grotto at the Web Adventure Park.  Ticket includes making reindeer food, Christmas crafts to take home, a gift from Father Christmas and unlimited time to play afterwards in the Web Adventure Park.  Places are limited, so early booking is advised.  

Ticket prices: £12 child, adults £2.25, available in person or by calling 01904 692221.  Selected dates from 14 – 24 December. Times: 10am to 12 noon, stay and play afterwards.  webadventurepark.co.uk

A timeless classic

Fans of a traditional Santa’s Grotto are in for a treat at Stockeld Park where a cosy, rustic wooden cabin, decked with twinkling lights, awaits Santa’s arrival from Lapland from 16 November until 24 December, as part of Stockeld Park’s famous adventure season, which includes The Snowflake Maze, Winter illuminations in the award-winning Enchanted Forest, a Nordic Ski Trail and ice skating. Tickets available on site on the day but for best prices book online www.stockeldpark.co.uk

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Stratford-upon-Avon is preparing for tens of thousands of visitors as its Victorian Christmas Market returns in a matter of weeks.

A major tourist destination and hometown of William Shakespeare is gearing up for its annual Christmas celebration.

A partnership between Stratford-on-Avon District Council, Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council and LSD Promotions, the 2019 event will be taking place on December 6, 7 and 8 and Mr Shakespeare himself paid a visit to the town to make sure it was ready for the Yuletide proceedings.

Now in its third year, the seasonal spectacular is a huge hit for the tourist destination as the number of people that have turned out has increased year on year from around 58,000 visitors in 2017 to more than 102,000 in 2018.

The Mayor of the Town, Councillor Kate Rolfe, said: “We are thrilled that Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas Market is returning once again.
“The event has proved increasingly popular each year with more visitors coming to town, making it the destination to visit during the holidays.
“The whole town is going to be a hive of activity and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone over the three days.”

There will be around 300 stalls selling a whole host of products perfect for the season or as presents for loved ones and the reindeers that were so popular last year will be coming back once again.


Councillor Ian Shenton, Operations Portfolio Stratford District Council said: There is plenty to see and do during the weekend. Performers will be also be taking to the stage that will be set up in Henley Street, with a number of acts entertaining the crowds. Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas Market has something for all the family to enjoy. It’s a lovely way to celebrate the season and get into the festive spirit.”

Entertainment will be hosted throughout the town, and there will be a stage in Henley Street hosting an array of performances for all the family to enjoy.

A traditional funfair, which will include a carousel, will be situated at the bottom of Wood Street and on the Rother Street market area.

This year will see the introduction of a Community Craft Fair located in the Town Hall on Sheep Street. A selection of refreshments will be on sale and entertainment will also be provided during the weekend.

The Christmas market will be located on Waterside, Bridge Street, Henley Street, High Street and Meer Street, and there will be an abundance of stalls selling street food and drinks positioned on Wood Street.

The market will be open between 11 am and 8 pm on the Friday, 10 am until 8 pm on the Saturday and then 10 am until 5 pm on the Sunday.

For further updates about the event visit www.stratford.gov.uk/markets/stratford-upon-avon-victorian-christmas-market.cfm

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The top 20 best-selling Toys and Games in the UK for Saturday 12th October 2019

These are the unofficial top 20 best-selling Toys and Games in the UK for the week ending Saturday 12th October 2019. Judging by what’s in this weeks top 20, it looks like people are buying things in preparation for Halloween parties.

Picture Name Price*
1 LEGO 75964 Harry Potter Advent Calendar 2019 with 7 Minifigures, Micro Hogwarts Express Train and Hedwig Figure
Only suitable for 7 years and over.
Click here for more details
£23.93
2 Snazaroo Face and Body Paint
Only suitable for 1 years and over.
Click here for more details
Out of stock
3 Uno Card Game
Only suitable for 7 years and over.
Click here for more details
£4.89
4 Asmodee Dobble Card Game
Only suitable for 6 years and over.
Click here for more details
£10.99
5 LEGO 75957 Harry Potter Knight Bus Toy, Triple-decker Collectible Set with Minifigures
Only suitable for 8 years and over.
Click here for more details
£26.00
6 Orchard Toys Match and Spell Game
Only suitable for 4 years and over.
Click here for more details
£5.62
7 Tomy Play to Learn Hide n Squeak Eggs
Only suitable for 0 years and over.
Click here for more details
£7.49
8 No Picture Available Pop Up Pirate Children’s Preschool Action Game
Only suitable for 4 years and over.
Click here for more details
£7.26
9 Crayola My First Easy Grip Jumbo Crayons designed for Toddlers, Pack of 24
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£3.99
10 Natural History Museum N5130 Dinosaur Torch & Projector
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£6.55
11 L.O.L. Surprise! 560296 L.O.L Sparkle Series with Glitter Finish and 7 Surprises, Multi
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£10.99
12 Temporary Tattoos (5 sheets) – Nitefall(TM) Wounds
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£4.49
13 LEGO 60235 City Advent Calendar 2019 Set with 24 Buildable Gift Toys, Father Christmas Santa and 6 Minifigures plus Husky Dog Figure
Only suitable for 5 years and over.
Click here for more details
£20.00
14 15 Assorted Halloween Balloons / 23cm / Halloween Trick Or Treat Scary Party Fun
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£1.18
15 Cards Against Humanity: UK edition
Only suitable for 17 years and over.
Click here for more details
£20.00
16 Smiffys 45879 Crawling Spider Tattoo Transfers, Black, One Size
Only suitable for 16 years and over.
Click here for more details
£3.75
17 Smiffys Kids Unisex Vampire Bat Costume, Wings, Black, One Size, 44414
Only suitable for 7 years and over.
Click here for more details
£3.10
18 Scratch Magic Note Cubes (3279)
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£6.99
19 HENBRANDT 48 x Spooky Halloween Vampire Pumpkin Bats Kids Pretend Transfers Tattoos
Only suitable for 6 years and over.
Click here for more details
£1.15
20 Halloween Bloody Hands Window Stickers – Bloody designs HAND PRINTS with Blood Splatter
Only suitable for 8 years and over.
Click here for more details
£1.60

* Price as of publication, click through for live pricing.

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The top 20 best selling Toys and Games in the UK for Saturday 5th October 2019

These are the unofficial top 20 best-selling Toys and Games in the UK for the week ending Saturday 5th October 2019.

Picture Name Price*
1 LEGO 75957 Harry Potter Knight Bus Toy, Triple-decker Collectible Set with Minifigures
Only suitable for 8 years and over.
Click here for more details
£26.00
2 Asmodee Dobble Card Game
Only suitable for 6 years and over.
Click here for more details
£10.99
3 GRANDI GIOCHI Great Games LLD21000, Watch LOL Surprise Jewelry Accessories, Designs and Assorted Colours, Multi-Colour
Only suitable for 6 months
Click here for more details
£8.99
4 LEGO 75955 Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Train Toy, Wizarding World Fan Gift, Building Sets for Kids, Various
Only suitable for 8 years and over.
Click here for more details
£59.99
5 LEGO 75964 Harry Potter Advent Calendar 2019 with 7 Minifigures, Micro Hogwarts Express Train and Hedwig Figure
Only suitable for 7 years and over.
Click here for more details
£23.93
6 Tomy Play to Learn Hide n Squeak Eggs
Only suitable for 0 years and over.
Click here for more details
£7.49
7 Uno Card Game
Only suitable for 7 years and over.
Click here for more details
£4.89
8 Snazaroo Face and Body Paint
Only suitable for 1 years and over.
Click here for more details
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9 Draw With Light Fun And Developing Toy Drawing Board Magic Draw Educational (A3 33*1.5*45CM)
Click here for more details
£6.05
10 No picture available Pop Up Pirate Children’s Preschool Action Game
Only suitable for 4 years and over.
Click here for more details
£7.26
11 Orchard Toys Match and Spell Game
Only suitable for 4 years and over.
Click here for more details
£5.62
12 L.O.L. Surprise! 560296 L.O.L Sparkle Series with Glitter Finish and 7 Surprises, Multi
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£10.99
13 LEGO 42073 Technic BASH Racing Car Toy with Powerful Pull-Back Motor, High-Speed Action Vehicles Building Set,
Only suitable for 7 years and over.
Click here for more details
£12.00
14 LEGO 10894 DUPLO Toy Story 4 Train for Toddler with Buzz and Woody Figures
Only suitable for 2 years and over.
Click here for more details
£13.99
15 Crayola My First Easy Grip Jumbo Crayons designed for Toddlers, Pack of 24
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£3.99
16 L.O.L Surprise! 561828 L.O.L. Surprise O.M.G. Winter Disco Snowlicious Fashion Doll & Sister, Multi
Only suitable for 6 years and over.
Click here for more details
£34.99
17 Natural History Museum N5130 Dinosaur Torch & Projector
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£6.55
18 Scratch Magic Note Cubes (3279)
Only suitable for 3 years and over.
Click here for more details
£6.99
19 Halloween Bloody Hands Window Stickers – Bloody designs HAND PRINTS with Blood Splatter
Only suitable for 8 years and over.
Click here for more details
£1.60
20 LEGO 75947 Harry Potter Hagrid’s Hut: Buckbeak’s Rescue Playset with Hippogriff Figure, Gift Idea for Wizarding World Fans, Multicolour
Only suitable for 8 years and over.
Click here for more details
£39.99

* Price as of publication, click through for live pricing. This is an unofficial top 20 best-selling Toys and Games in the UK

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123 Days until Christmas: August 24th 2019

The Bank Holiday weekend in England marks 123 days until Christmas 2019. On what is going to be one of the hottest weekends of the year so far for many of us, Christmas is probably the last thing anyone is really thinking about today. But most children return back to school in the next week or two and will before you know it be preparing for Harvest Festival and then straight into learning their lines for the Christmas Nativity. For those of us who have to do the shopping, you won’t be pleased to hear there are just 18 weekends left before Christmas 2019.

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