10 festive family experiences to enjoy in the North West this Christmas

10 festive family experiences to enjoy in the North West this Christmas

Many of the North West’s family activities are the envy of the entire country, and no wonder! With a rich cultural heritage and beautiful local scenery, there’s all sorts of sights, sounds and experiences to enjoy with your family this Christmas. They might not all be right on your doorstep, but happily that’s where we can help. With the best prices on daily car hire, at Intack Self Drive you can get yourself on the road for a quick day trip to some of the North West’s most memorable Christmas events. Below, we’ve rounded up a couple of our favourites!

1. Wander round the Manchester Christmas Markets

Manchester christmas markets

Recently voted the best in the UK, Manchester’s Christmas Markets are a highly anticipated annual event that never fails to disappoint. Between November 8th and December 21st, a total of over 300 stalls will pop up in the city, with people flocking to them in their thousands. But it’s worth braving the crowds, since the markets have tonnes to offer - you can find everything from sumptuous food and drink to beautiful handmade gifts that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else. Jewellery, liqueurs and other artisan products are perhaps the most highly valued of the market’s wares, so it’s easy to see why after so many years, they’re still the pride of the city. 

2. All aboard for Santa Specials at the East Lancashire Railway

Santa Claus train

If your gaze has ever been drawn to the steam trains that occasionally toot their way past the level crossings in market towns like Ramsbottom, this one’s for you. A highly popular event, the Santa Specials at the East Lancashire Railway give you and your family the chance to embark upon an enchanting journey on one of these beautiful steam trains, taking you from Rawtenstall and back through to the Irwell Valley. There’s plenty of entertainment on the journey too, with decorated stations, brass bands and carol sings, costumed characters and even a magician! 

3. Breakfast with Santa (all over the North West)

Breakfast with santa

As everybody knows, it’s a particularly busy time of year for Father Christmas, but he’s still found time to appear at multiple Breakfast with Santa events at locations all over the North West. That means if you and the family want to meet him, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to do so! He’ll be making appearances throughout December at a Breakfast with Santa event in Burnley, as well as Bents Garden and Home centre in Warrington. Meanwhile, he’ll also be making a particularly magical appearance at the Chapel in Lyme, which will be transformed into a beautiful, comfortable space just for the event! Wherever you go to see that jolly old fellow, you can expect a cheerful festive breakfast and party atmosphere, plenty of nibbles, and even a little something for the kids to take home from Santa! Even though December is a few weeks away though, don’t leave it to look to book - as you might expect, the places fill up fast! 

4. See a perfect performance of Mr Popper’s Penguins at Waterside Arts in Sale


Whether you recognise the story from the original 1938 book, or the Jim Carrey film of the same name, you’re in for a treat with the performance of this whimsical play, which tells the story of a family man who unexpectedly finds himself caring for 10 boisterous penguins. (Who doesn’t, every now and again?) You can expect a little bit of laughter, a little bit of melancholy, and a whole heap of family fun. Make sure not to leave it too late to book your tickets!

5. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colours of Lightopia 

And now, as the saying goes, for something a little different. Lightopia is a brand new festival taking place this year in Manchester’s Heaton Park - it promises a visually dramatic experience that ‘fuses beautiful art installations with the human experience’. It’s certainly got our attention! Six key interactive installations are all united with the theme of harmony, ranging from the appealingly named Happy Valley to the more mysterious Two Moons Eagle. Don’t wait too long to book your tickets, because one thing’s for sure - you’re not likely to find anything else like it this Christmas!

6. Embark on a magical steam train trip at the Santa Express on Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway


If you’ve got your heart set on a Christmas train journey experience this Christmas, the East Lancashire Railway isn’t your only option! The captivating scenery surrounding the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway promises an unforgettable experience as you take your family on a steam train journey up or down the valley - and you’ll even be joined by a very special red-suited guest! When you reach Dalegarth, there’ll be an opportunity to meet Santa and his happy elves in his grotto to receive a gift and snap a quick picture as a memento of this special day! You can head on over to the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway website to find out more information, or book your places

7. Lose yourself in the Lanterns at Chester Zoo


A trip to Chester Zoo is a wonderful experience all year round, but it’s an especially memorable experience at Christmas. Everyone is given a lantern to carry as you wander through nine different illuminated settings, decorated with enchanting animal illuminations (and ‘just a sprinkling of snow’). The first walks begin on the 22nd of November, and it’s open until the 23rd of December, but as you might expect for such a distinctive experience, the places will be limited. Don’t wait too long to book your places!

8. Experience 'The Snowman’ at Liverpool Cathedral


Based on a wordless children’s picture book by Raymond Briggs, today the Snowman is a true animated Christmas classic. First released in 1982, its appeal is timeless and universal, which means parents and children alike can enjoy the innocent adventures of a boy and his snowman. It’s a brilliant encapsulation of the magic of Christmas, and there can be few more fitting venues for such a story than Liverpool Cathedral. The music for the film will be performed by a live orchestra, making for an absolutely spellbinding experience. You can get your tickets here! 

9. Get your skates on for the Liverpool Ice Festival

Ice rink

Undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s most popular festive celebrations, the Ice Festival opened on the 13th of November, and has transformed Pier Head on the Waterfront with a thrilling ice slide and an ice rink for all the family to enjoy. If you or your family aren’t too confident on the ice, don’t worry - penguin skate aids will be available at the rink to help you stay on your feet. As well as the slide and the ice rink, there’s plenty more to enjoy besides, including a range of stalls in the Bavarian Food Court, so you can grab yourself a bit of festive fare!

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Manchester Opera House

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

If you’re a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, you might recognise the star of this year’s production - the legendary Craig Revel Horwood stars as the Wicked Queen! He’s joined by Eric Potts (of Coronation Street fame) as Dame Nora Crumble, as well as Zoe George as Snow White herself. The producers promise a night of side-splitting comedy, as well as some incredible dance and musical numbers. If you’re a keen panto fan, this one’s not to be missed - get your tickets here

If you miss out on any of them, don’t worry - the North West is chock full of Christmas events, and we’re sure you’ll find something you love! As for getting there, that’s where we can help - our daily car hire prices start from just £14.14 per day, so you can easily take a quick day trip without having to worry about having a surplus car sitting in your driveway for several days afterwards. Feel free to visit us at our site in Blackburn, or give us a call on 01254 57811 - we’re always happy to help!

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