With Christmas fast approaching we round up where’s best to take the kids for the annual trip to see Father Christmas plus other family festive fun.
** EDIT – additional info. The Marston Vale Community Partnership Santa Special is full steam ahead after RMT strike action has been cancelled meaning there will be a normal train service on 14th December, book your space here . So hop on the train to Santa’s Grotto where you find face painting, balloon modelling, festive crafts team (small charge applies) plus a model railway or two. Refreshments available.
Santa lit up the town on Sunday 24 November and now he’s installed in his grotto in the Harpur Centre until Christmas Eve. If you’re planning a visit, you can get 20% off by quoting ‘BI1’ – Merry Christmas!
The Forest of Marston Vale is hosting a Christmas Tree Festival and Elf Trail on 7-8 December. Eric and Elsie the elves are trying to make mince pies but they’ve muddled up the recipe and they need your help (£3 per child). Santa will also be in his grotto and there is no need to book (£5 per child). There will also be lots of gift and craft stalls for your Christmas shopping. Free entry and parking.
They are also hosting a Christmas party for the children on 20 December, 4pm. Music, food, party games, prizes and a trip to Santa’s Grotto. Pre-booking is essential. Parking charges apply however if you become a Friend of the Forest, one of the many benefits is free parking all year round.
Moggerhanger Park is hosting a selection of Christmas events and the ones currently not sold out are the free Christmas Elf Woodland Trail. Snowball and Snowflake the elves have knocked over a Christmas tree and all the baubles have zoomed across the park and they need your help to find them. Runs daily (Mon-Fri 11.30am-4pm and Sat-Sun 10-4pm), no need to book and pick up a sheet from the cafe.
Father Christmas will also be at the Herrings Green Farm and no booking is required. He will be there from 21-23 December from 10.30am-3pm. £10.50 for children which includes admission into Christmas ‘animal antics’, ‘make your own’ reindeer food and Christmas crafts.
They are also hosting a festive ‘Evening with Owls’ on the 7 December, which includes soup and mince pies, a chance to meet and handle their owls culminating in a torchlight flying display. They are also hosting Christmas Encounters and Afternoon.
A firm favourite is Santa’s Grotto at Frosts Willington which runs from 9 November – 24 December. Santa’s Head Elf will greet you for singing and dancing before moving onto the Toy workshop where every child chooses their own cuddly toy. Then it’s onto a ‘magical’ story from the man himself and photo opportunity, before reindeer food making. Book here.
Watch Santa land at the Shuttleworth Aerodrome at 10am on the 7 and 14 December. Although the Santa’s Grotto at the Swiss Gardens is already fully booked!
Santa will also be popping into Bedford to enjoy breakfast at Beales. Sunday 15 and 22 December for breakfast and a gift (£9). Extra breakfasts are either £5.95 for a full cooked breakfast or £3.95 for a Danish and a coffee. Get your tickets from the second floor of Beales in the town centre.
More Festive Fun
Gallone’s Ice Cream Parlour in Bedford’s old arcade is hosting a Christmas crafting session on December 8, 10am-1pm. Contact them to book your space.
Rogan’s Books on Castle Lane will be opening late on Thursday 28 November. There is a book out there for everyone. Fashionista? Literary heavyweight? Gaming obsessive? General knowledge buff? Scientist? Comic lover? Artist? There is LITERALLY a book for everyone. There will also be refreshments on offer.
Another firm favourite is the Christmas Tree Festival at St Paul’s Church in Bedford. Our community pulls out the stops to decorate many trees to raise money for the Bedford Hosptial Charity. £2.50 entry for adults and children free.
Story Drawy returns to The Art Centre and Gallery Saturday 7 December for children age 6-10. There will be a range of art materials so them to create their Christmas Owl. Booking essential.
Christmas Theatre – oh yes it is!
The Quarry Theatre is hosting a fun-filled, sugar-fuelled, family-friendly pantomime adventure that reminds us ALL not to take candy from strangers. Hansel and Gretel the pantomime runs from 14 to 22 December
Head on to The Place Theatre for Jackastory (10 December) for young children, Moon on a Stick (13 December) for tiny ones (6-18 months) and one of our favourites, The Pantaloons are performing Cinderalla (17-28 December)
On the 17 December bring children 2-7 years to The Bedford Corn Exchange who are hosting 2 performances (1pm and 4pm) of Santa’s Christmas Countdown. A festive musical with not only Santa but Dasher the reindeer, Jack Frost and Dotty the Elf. Children can post their letter to Santa from here and after the show children will get to meet Santa and receive a present from him
Or for older children the Bedford Panto Company are bringing ‘Tangled’ – the story of Rapunzel – from 21 December to 1 January at the Corn Exchange.
Christmas is also a great time to do something for those left fortunate.
Look out for The Wishing Tree at The Harpur Centre, choose a tag and donate a new toy/gift and make a child’s Christmas.
Another great festive activity is a tour of the local houses who put on fantastic displays, with many raising money for charity. In Cardington on Southill Road, they will be lit up from 1 December to 5 January raising money for The Smart Prebend Centre and you can donate here. In Brickhill on Swindale, most of the houses light up to raise money for their chosen charity and whilst you are in the area, there are usually houses on Dove Road and Kimbolton Road (top end) who have awesome displays.