We have visited lots of garden centres and a few shopping centres this season to enjoy the festive displays. So I thought I would write a round-up of some free places to visit this season. Ideas range from places to pop to briefly when you are short on time, to places where you could easily spend several hours, or even make it a whole day out… and it won’t cost you a penny! (Except parking in some cases).
Please note additional activities such as ice skating, grottos etc… mentioned are NOT free, there is generally a charge for these activities.
So here are our suggestions…
This is a whole row of garden centres, most of which have some festivities. One in particular has a large display, an ice rink, snow globe, grotto with train ride and real reindeer. Crews Hill is somewhere that you can easily spend most of the day if you wanted. You can also soak in the atmosphere in an hour or two though if you are pushed for time.
This is another of the larger garden centres. It has an ice rink (bookable in advance), grotto and lots to see generally. It also has an animal garden onsite too.
Great for popping into briefly if you are passing or are nearby. The giant snowman is fab! Have tea or breakfast with Santa has a fun alternative to a grotto. (Book in advance, costs apply).
We visited this garden centre for the first time recently. There is a mini funfair and a huge Christmas shop, plus a grotto and winter wonderland (entry charges apply). Even if you don’t pay to go into the wonderland, as we didn’t, it is still worth a visit. It has a nice Christmassy feel generally.
This is a fun place to pop to if you have a short time to spare for a quick whizz around. There is a woodland train ride too.
We popped here for the first time a couple of days ago. Cute displays, worth a brief visit for a little while.
This has lovely displays and some nice little interactive activities too. It is perfect for soaking in the festive atmosphere while on a time limit.
St Albans centre has a nice little display in Christopher Place, a traditional style Christmas Market in the Vintry Gardens next to Abbey Cathedral (with a timetable of events and activities), and there is a fun Nutcracker Trail across the city too.
Whilst many of the activities here are at additional cost, such as carousel, train rides, grotto and helter skelter, there are also some pretty displays and a brilliant festive atmosphere generally. Plus a little snow area!
I have saved the best until last! This is my top pick this season because I love the theme; Santa’s Waste-Not Workshop focuses on recycling and green living. With awesome displays and cool activities that educate and inspire during what can be a very consumer-based and wasteful time of year, I think this is genius! Squiggle loved lighting up the tree using energy she generated from cycling – such a clever idea. Well done to whoever came up with this, it gets a big thumbs up from us!
Seasons Geetings everyone!
Where is your favourite festive place to visit?