There are just a couple of weeks until Christmas! (And we’ve found something wonderful for you to do every day between now and then.)
The New Forest is made for this time of the year. Not just because we’re the perfect place to see real Christmas trees while you wander over our frosty acres – but because we’re blessed with so many amazing places putting on spectacular events specially for this magical season. Your only difficulty will be deciding what to do so, with that in mind, we’ve hunted down the very best ways to enjoy yourself over Yuletide.
GAZE - upon a real nativity scene – at Longdown Activity Farm.
Children and adults alike will delight in the festive atmosphere of the Longdown Farm Christmas Barn with its traditional theme and real live animals. Twinkling lights, Christmas trees and festive decorations set the scene where fluffy baby chicks and lots of other favourite farm animals will be waiting to meet the children and share their excitement.
The peaceful Nativity is watched over by gentle donkeys and provides a serene reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. Look out for Santa’s tractor sleigh, which he has carefully parked outside the Farmhouse Grotto. Father Christmas will be waiting inside to greet the children and their parents; he will be looking forward to giving every child a special Christmas gift to take home.
Admission for the Christmas Barn: Children 3 – 14 : £14.50 each, Under 3s and child season ticket holders: £7.50 each, Assisted Needs Children: £7.50 each, Paying Adults: £5.50 each – includes a free hot drink (from the choice on offer), Adult season ticket holder : Free. *Price includes entrance to Barn, Grotto, and an age-appropriate gift for each child from Father Christmas.
ENJOY - a Victorian Christmas – at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.
When Christmas comes, historical Palace House comes into its own.
Montagu family rehearsals for a Cinderella pantomime will be part of Beaulieu’s Victorian Christmas celebrations, bringing the ancestral home of Palace House to life for the festive season on the weekends of December 7-8, 14-15 and 21 and January 1.
Experience the beauty of a traditionally decorated country home at Beaulieu.
There’ll be Christmas trees in every room of Palace House, with a towering 20ft-tall specimen in the main hall. Sip a warming glass of mulled punch by the welcoming glow of a roaring log fire and gather around the grand piano to join in with carol singing.
There’ll also be festive craft activities, Victorian toys and dressing up and a trail to find Christmas mice around Palace House.
Beaulieu is open every day except Christmas day. All Christmas activities are included in a general admission ticket. Tickets can be bought in advance online. For tickets please visit their website or call 01590 612345.
MEET - Father Christmas – at Furzey Gardens
What could be more traditional than greeting Santa in his Grotto?
If you go to Furzey on Saturday 7, Sunday 8, Saturday 14 or Sunday 15 December you will be able to do just that. And there’s plenty of additional fun to be had, too. Follow the rock nativity trail, get busy with a Christmas craft activity and enjoy the special North Pole menu in the Tea Rooms whilst children can enjoy the Christmas tales in story corner. Tickets for this ever-popular event are available on their website.
WATCH - A Christmas Carol – at Hanger Farm Arts Centre.
It’s the ultimate Christmas tale and it’s being brought to life on Sunday December 8.
GreenMatthews: A Christmas Carol in Concert, is a retelling of the classic story in song. Or join Liam and Tony White for their Christmas Spectacular on Saturday December 21 – a evening of some of the most classic music of all time, guaranteed to get your Christmas going with a swing.
For entertainment for all the family, Malcolm the Magician will be at Hanger Farm on Sunday December 22 with an exciting and entertaining performance. Tickets available from their website.
As part of Lyndhurst's ever successful Christmas Fun Day, join New Forest Heritage Centre for some festive treats on December 7 from 10am-3pm. Can you find all the objects in their Christmas trail hidden around the Museum? Which of their Christmas crafts will you try? Museum is free entry but donations are very welcome. Donations per activity, suggested £1.
Meanwhile over at Eling Tide Mill in the Forest’s east they’ve flung themselves into the festive season! Drop into their activity room from 1.30pm-3.30pm on Saturday December 14 and make a decoration for your Christmas Tree. Suitable for all accompanied children with grown-ups happy to help their little ones. Suggested donation £1 per child.
They have festive wreath-making on Saturday December 14 and during the late afternoon there will be a performance of What the Dickens from 4pm-6pm where the audience can enjoy atmospheric readings from the celebrated author performed by the Portsmouth Dickens Fellowship. You can book online, or in person in advance.
DRINK - mulled wine at Setthorns Campsite, a wonderful camping location open throughout the year, nestled in the secluded and beautiful New Forest woodland.
On December 20 from 2pm-4pm they’ll be offering mulled wine, mince pies and festive music for campers. On Christmas Day itself, Santa will be touring the site with his helpers spreading Christmas cheer and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and dropping a small gift to each child.
EAT – your way through a festive family afternoon tea to celebrate the release of the Frozen 2 movie at New Park Manor.
Inspired by the release of Disney’s Frozen 2, Luxury Family Hotels is launching a special ‘Winter Wonderland’ family afternoon tea.
Fit for princes and princesses of all ages, the delicious tea will tantalise the taste buds with Siberian chocolate and raspberry bombs, frosty vanilla macaroons, blueberry ice mountain cupcakes, aerated chocolate snowflakes and marshmallow snow cubes.
It's available until January 4.
Join the Windmill Band at 5.45pm on Friday December 6 and listen to the choir before joining the full service at 6.30pm, prior to Santa’s arrival by sleigh at 7pm. Then enjoy yourself with a late-night shopping evening in this seaside village.
RIDE - the Festive Express at Exbury Gardens.
On the Festive Express, you will find real-life elves greeting passengers and interacting with children. They'll guide families on a festive journey through the gardens, pointing out all the fantastic decorations that line the tracks and leading carol-singing as you steam along. Festive decorations will be strung up from floor to ceiling, creating a cosy and festive atmosphere for you to take part in Christmas crafts inside the engine shed. You can write your Christmas wish-list, create glittery cards and make paper straw trees guided by the Exbury elves. Then meet Father Christmas in his very special 'royal' train carriage reserved just for your family, and take home a special Christmas gift.
WALK – it all off at Buckler’s Hard.
Escape the stresses of the festive season by wrapping up and enjoying a crisp winter walk at the historic village of Buckler’s Hard. Soak up the tranquillity of the Beaulieu River, then head inside to discover the story of this 18th century shipbuilding village in the Maritime Museum. Finally, treat yourself to a steaming hot chocolate in the Captain’s Cabin Tea Rooms and indulge in some retail therapy in the gift shop; with stylish homeware and quirky nautical gifts, it’s the perfect place to find unique Christmas presents.
ESCAPE – to Marwell Zoo
Less than 40 minutes away near Winchester, this Zoological Park always puts on a Christmas spectacular, taking place until December 24.This year’s ‘Christmas at Marwell’ takes families into a curious world of topsy-turvy delights with a fairy tale Alice in Wonderland theme.
Marwell Hall will be turned into a wonderland of whacky delights. There’ll be a tea party with Mother Christmas as she recounts a curious tale, and an elf workshop in a ‘garden of fun’ where little ones create a ‘magical’ elf door. To finish, children mustn’t be late for a very important date to meet Father Christmas and receive a surprise gift.
Available on selected dates from November 16 to December 24, prices start from £7.50 for infants, £15.50 for toddlers, £29 for children (up to 16 years old) and £25.50 for adults.
THRILL – on the rides at Paulton’s Park
The UK’s favourite family theme park’s festive season is in full swing! Meet Santa in his magical Grotto, experience Peppa Pig World in a festive setting and enjoy selected rides and attractions whilst being surrounded by beautiful decorations.
STAY – in the magical New Forest this Christmas
And if all this sounds like too much for a day, why not treat yourself to an overnight stay? It means not having to rush home, more time in the New Forest and a chance to sample yet more seasonal delights.
These wonderful New Forest accommodation providers are all doing special offers and deals in the run-up to Christmas:
Cottage Lodge Hotel
Give a little bit back to the New Forest during a break at Cottage Lodge Hotel this Christmas. Enjoy a break this December and the hotel will gift 10% of your stay to the New Forest Trust.
And if you’re still looking for that perfect gift, Cottage Lodge Hotel have created a wonderful new design for their gift vouchers, just in time for Christmas.
Woodlands Lodge Hotel
Escape the stress and strains of organising Christmas this year and let Woodlands Lodge Hotel do all the cooking and washing up! All that’s left is for you to put your feet up and have a great time at this beautiful country house hotel over the Christmas period. Starting with Afternoon Tea on Christmas Eve, ending with a delicious Full English Breakfast on the 27th December, with loads of festive entertainment, food and fun in the middle, this is the perfect break this Christmas. Prices from just £1000 per couple in a standard room. Call now to book 02380 29 22 57.
Forester’s and Keeper’s Cottages
Forester's & Keeper's Self Catering Cottages are close to Moors Valley Country Park, where they have Special Santa Trips on the Steam Railway and Christmas Family trails, which makes the cottages a great place to stay this Christmas. Christmas : 4 nights from Monday 23 December - £560 each cottage.
Christmas : Week from Monday 23 December - £790 each cottage.
Friday 27 December : 3 night weekend - £420 each cottage.
New Year : 4 nights from Monday 30 December - £560 each cottage.
All the above prices are to 4 guests per cottage, including full central heating, gas, electricity, linen, towels, free wi-fi and lots of essentials.
Book Direct - no booking fees, vat, meters or security deposit.
PARTY – the night away
The Master Builder’s House Hotel
Make the run up to Christmas extra special by joining in with the festivities at The Master Builder’s Hotel! Join their shared party nights at only £35pp - Friday December 13 and 20 are still available. For information on availability contact our events team directly: 01590 611122 or email@example.com
Forest Park Hotel
The perfect place to enjoy your Christmas celebrations, from their Michael Buble Christmas Tribute Night on 20th December, to a Christmas Eve Candlelit Dinner and there is still space for you and your family to spend your Christmas Day Lunch at Forest Park Hotel too. Head to their website for more information.