11 Best Days Out at Christmas in Northumberland

Christmas in Northumberland is something truly special and not to be missed. Spending a day out during the festive season will bring joy and wonder to any age, as well as getting you into that festive spirit! 

Christmas in Northumberland

From the dazzling light displays at Alnwick Gardens to wreath making classes with a glass of fizz, this guide offers a range of experiences for families and adults only. We’ve put together 11 of the best days out at Christmas in Northumberland so you can easily see what’s on, and start planning. 

All times, dates and confirmations for these Northumberland Christmas events are correct at date of last update (October 2023). 

Please double check and pre-book where necessary before you leave the house!

Days out for Christmas in Northumberland

Christmas events in Northumberland

1. Visit the Christmas Kingdom at Bamburgh Castle

Open to the public from Saturday 11th November 2023 – admission is included with general admission tickets.

Every year Bamburgh Castle puts on some sort of Christmas spectacular, and starting Saturday November 11th 2023 it’s The Christmas Kingdom. The Charlotte Lloyd Webber Event Design team are back at the castle with another festive event that is the castle’s “most dazzling Christmas experience yet”… sign us up!

what to do at christmas in northumberland

Northumberland has many myths and legends, and some have inspired this event. You’ll make your way through the staterooms taking in all the stories and folklore along the way, complete with a sprinkling of fairy magic for good measure. Feast your eyes on fantastical creatures, frosted forests, mermaids and selkies, and much more.

This experience will suit all ages, and there’s even a Meet Father Christmas experience for the ultimate day out (although keep in mind this must be booked separately through the Bamburgh Castle website). If you’re looking for a magical day out this Christmas then put this top of your list, and don’t forget to check out the castle’s wreath making workshops and Christmas carol singing too.

2. Explore the grounds at Cragside

Open to the public from Saturday 2nd December – admission to the Merry Maze and the Mischievous Mice at Cragside is included with general admission tickets. No need to book. Check event times for Christmas at Cragside on the National Trust website.

Beautiful all year round, Cragside National Trust property in Rothbury, is hosting a Christmas treat for families to enjoy. 

Christmas in Cragside

The House is closed this winter but there are still lots of festive things to do at Cragside that will make your visit extra special. Follow the twists and turns of the Merry Maze and take part in the quiz questions at different junctions to guide you to the selfie props in the centre (perfect for your Christmas family portrait!).

The mice are causing mischief at Cragside this year, so look out for them climbing the tree in the stables, and creating mayhem in the tea rooms. There’s also festive decoration making, lovely wintry walks around the grounds, and in the stables you can help decorate the Wish Tree and write your hopes and dreams for 2024 on one of the tags. A really lovely idea!

The best part is, if you are already a National Trust member, this makes for a free day out.  

3. Hop on board with Santa at the Aln Valley Railway 

Santa Special dates: 9th/10th December and 16th/17th December 2023. Tickets on sale now at a cost of £25 per child and £7 per adult, which includes a hot drink and a mince pie. Pre booked tickets only. Bookings made via the Aln Valley website.

Northumberland’s answer to the Polar Express is the Aln Valley Railway. Travel with Santa and his elves on the festive train this December. An enchanting journey that starts at the Lionheart Station, where you will be greeted by the friendly staff and served a hot drink and mince pie, or a cookie for the children. 

The train makes a short journey with the whole ride lasting approximately half an hour. Once on board the festive train, every child will receive a visit from Santa himself and his elves. 

A child’s ticket includes:

  • A drink and cookie on arrival
  • A train ride with Santa and his elves 
  • A goody bag
  • A present
  • Festive crafts in the cafe

4. Experience breakfast with Santa at Dobbies Morpeth

Bookings being taken now via the Breakfast with Santa page on the Dobbies website. Breakfast with Santa served from Saturday 2nd December up until Christmas Eve. 

This is a lovely event where adults and children can enjoy a cooked breakfast before meeting Santa and his helpful elves. Situated in the main restaurant at Dobbies Morpeth, breakfast with Santa has been a popular event for many years now. 

Breakfast with Santa is £8.60 for an adult’s menu, and £13.99 for a child’s menu, which includes a gift from the man himself.

Santa at Dobbies garden centre
Image Credit: Dobbies Facebook Page

After having breakfast with Santa, enjoy a slow wander through the garden centre, perhaps picking up a gift or two or visit the food hall for further Christmas inspiration. 

Located a short drive north of Morpeth, Dobbies has free parking as well as its very own shopping village to meet all your Christmas preparation needs. 

5. Browse the independent shops during Alnwick’s Christmas light switch-on

Often held in the Market Place, Alnwick. 2023 dates TBD.

A favourite Christmas tradition for many is to go and see the Christmas light switch-on. Each year, Alnwick hosts an evening of festive entertainment from market stalls to fairground rides. It is also a great opportunity for local businesses to open their doors and welcome customers looking to get ahead with their Christmas shopping. 

There are no dates announced yet for 2023, but fingers crossed there will be some sort of Christmas extravaganza as in previous years. Santa often makes an appearance after the switch-on so this is always a great day/evening out for young children.

Whether the lights are switched on or not this year, head to Carlo’s Fish and Chip shop for tea where you can sit upstairs and look out the window at all the Christmas lights and festivities.

Alnwick is a popular spot within Northumberland and witnessing it come alive in the winter months as well as the summer is very exciting. Afternoon tea in Northumberland is also a great indoor activity to get in the Christmas spirit.

For more Christmas shopping ideas in England, check out these wonderful Christmas markets.

6. Be dazzled by the wondrous light display at Alnwick Garden

From November 13th to January 7th, tickets must be purchased online via the Alnwick Garden website. Time slots allocated on a first come first served basis. 

Back by popular demand, the Alnwick Garden Light Trail is definitely not one to be missed when planning your Christmas in Northumberland. Don’t just take our word for it, the light trail won a ‘GOLD’ award at the 2022 North East Tourism Awards for ‘Experience of The Year’, and it’s bound to dazzle once more in 2023.

The trail returns to Alnwick Gardens with new installations and is quickly becoming a must-see for everyone in the North East. You can also book for a Father Christmas visit when you’re there, so this promises to be a really magical day out for the whole family. If you prefer to see the lights in all their glory, book the Lilidorei Evening Lights.

Alnwick Garden tickets start from £13.20 for adults and Lilidorei tickets start at £16.50 for adults, or you can book both together.   

Follow your trip up with an evening out at a pub in Northumberland – you won’t regret it!

7. An audience with Father Christmas at Belsay Hall

Weekends only between December 2nd and December 23rd. Tickets can be purchased alongside admission tickets and time slots to be pre-booked. Head to the website for Belsay Hall for more information. 

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens is one of Northumberland’s top days out. This English Heritage site is not one to be missed when visiting Northumberland at Christmas. Escape into a magical winter wonderland, and meet Father Christmas as he tells festive tales seated amongst the yuletide decorations. 

Santa writing a list

It’s worth noting an additional charge of £9.50 per child applies to see Father Christmas, and the price includes a small present. When booking select the ‘An audience with Father Christmas’ add-on for the time you wish to attend.

8. Enjoy a Christmas performance at the Alnwick Playhouse

Shows run from Wednesday 13th December up until Saturday 30th December 2023, with BSL performances on Wednesday 27th December. Book your tickets via the Alnwick Playhouse website.

Set in the heart of the market town of Alnwick, the Playhouse always hosts a family friendly Christmas show each December. This year ‘Snow White’ is coming to Alnwick Playhouse, and once again it’s suitable for all the family.

This classic story is turned on its head with the addition of an eighth dwarf, talking dog, nasty frog, exploding chicken, and a few other unexpected treats.  It will suit children ages 4 and up, plus adults will love it too – a great day out!

Also at the Playhouse this festive season is A Musical Christmas At The Playhouse from Friday 15th December to Saturday 30th December 2023, which promises to bring festive delights from some of the world’s best loved musicals.

READ MORE: How to Have the Best Day Out in Seahouses in Northumberland

9. Christmas Wreath Making and Festive Fizz 

Saturday 2nd December 5pm – 7pm. Location: The Creative Studio, Morpeth. Tickets cost £40 and can be booked on the All Events website.

A gorgeous way to kick-start your festivities, with a wreath making workshop and festive glass of fizz! Join The Creative Studio to create a beautiful Christmas wreath for your home, with all materials provided as well as festive refreshments. 

Christmas wreath making workshop

Free Prosecco is available to over 18s attending this event, and other beverages will be available including soft drinks. They say ‘you just need to bring yourself and a sprinkle of creativity’, so it promises to be a lovely, relaxing evening out for anyone who’s into crafts or Christmas. Bonus points if you love both!

Please be aware that the studio is only accessible by stairs. 

READ MORE: The Best Beaches in Northumberland

10. Festive workshops at the Kielder Winter Wonderland

Selected dates between 19th November and 23rd December 2023. Location: Kielder Waterside in the Kielder Forest Park. Tickets for Winter Wonderland cost £5 for visitors under the age of two and £33.50 for visitors aged two years and above. 

For a family Christmas in Northumberland, take the kids to the Kielder Winter Wonderland, where festive activities include elf workshops and forest walks.  

Meetings with reindeer at Christmas in Northumberland

The kids can venture through the enchanted forest in search of Father Christmas and help Mrs Christmas prepare for the festive season. You can also pop by and say hello to Santa’s reindeer.  

Lodges are available in the heart of the forest for those who want to extend their stay at this winter wonderland. This is a top day out for Christmas in Northumberland for kids who like a hands-on experience, and they always pull out all the stops to make it extra magical!

11. Visit one of these Northumberland spas

If you’re looking for a wonderful Christmas day out in Northumberland, how about a day pass or an overnight stay at one of these Northumberland spas?

Christmas at a spa

A spa may not be the kids’ idea of a Christmassy day out, but if it’s what you want from Santa this year (and you’ve been good!) then treat yourself and relax ahead of a busy festive season – you won’t be short on activities to keep you entertained all Christmas long thanks to this list, so take a few hours to yourself to prepare!

A Northumberland Christmas

Northumberland Christmas

With so much on offer for a magical Christmas in Northumberland, it’s time to start booking those events and planning a winter of festivities. Whether you’re looking for family friendly events or something just for the adults, this post has shared some of the best Christmas days out in Northumberland. 

Northumberland comes alive at this time of year and it is a great opportunity to support local businesses and explore more of the area. It’s also a great opportunity to try some of the best Northumberland coastal walks the area has to offer.

Let us know if you’ve been to any other exciting events in the run up to Christmas in Northumberland, in the comments below…

Quick List: 11 Best Days Out at Christmas in Northumberland

  • 1. Visit the Christmas Kingdom at Bamburgh Castle
  • 2. Explore the grounds at Cragside
  • 3. Hop on board with Santa at the Aln Valley Railway 
  • 4. Experience breakfast with Santa at Dobbies Morpeth
  • 5. Browse the independent shops during Alnwick’s Christmas light switch-on
  • 6. Be dazzled by the wondrous light display at Alnwick Garden
  • 7. An audience with Father Christmas at Belsay Hall
  • 8. Enjoy a Christmas performance at the Alnwick Playhouse
  • 9. Christmas Wreath Making and Festive Fizz 
  • 10. Festive workshops at the Kielder Winter Wonderland
  • 11. Visit one of these Northumberland spas

Beth Wardell

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