Christmas is coming to The National Forest | Visit National Forest

Christmas is coming to The National Forest

Posted on Wednesday 16th November

Wrap yourselves up warm this December and make your way to The National Forest to experience the magic of Christmas. From the moment you step into the Forest, you’ll be able to hear the sound of sleigh bells and join in the search for Santa Clause. Just like the twelve days of Christmas, we’ve pulled together our top 12 activities to get you into the Christmas spirit in The National Forest this year.


1. Meet Santa at Winter Wonderland


Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a magical winter wonderland experience for the whole family to enjoy, and this year is no exception. Conker’s  have pulled together a team of elves who will accompany you through the forest before arriving at the beautifully lit Woodland Grotto. Children will get the chance to meet the reindeers and the adults can enjoy the rich mulled wine and mince pies.

It’s best to book and evening slot to take full advantage of the magical Christmas lights, but whichever slot you choose, visitors are encouraged to book early for this, to avoid disappointment.

There are 12 dates available to choose from starting from the 3rd December which can be booked here


2. Pay a visit to our resident reindeer

There’s plenty going on at The National Forest Adventure Farm this Christmas for the family to get involved in. Is your child taking part in a Nativity play this year?  Well at The National Forest Adventure Farm children will get the opportunity to dress up as their favourite Nativity character and join in with the interactive play with real animals!

Don’t worry the fun doesn’t stop there! Remember to reindeerkeep your eye out for Santa and elf workshops, elf shows, winter wonderland crafts and pay a visit to the adventure farm’s resident reindeer in the animal barn where you can learn about how the friendly animals are looked after.

Christmas fun at The Adventure Farm runs from 26 November – 24 December 2016 including weekends & school holidays.


3. Rosliston Forestry Centre – Santa Fun Run


Christmas is coming and that can only mean one thing… the Santa Fun Run at Rosliston Forestry Centre is back! Now in its fifth year the annual fun-filled event is returning to reunite scores of Santa’s in a two-mile run.

On December 3rd get dressed up and meet at 10.45am for what promises to be an entertaining morning! Previous years have seen more than 200 people turn up for the event, so make sure you sign up before it’s too late.

For more information, visit the website:



4. Try some tasty treats at the Christmas Fair


The annual Christmas Fair will be returning to Bradgate Park this year with an array of stalls for you to peruse. On Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December from 10am until 4pm, you’ll have the chance to browse a number of arts and crafts stalls, taste and purchase local produce, search for gifts, watch demonstrations and of course, meet Santa in his cosy Woodland Grotto.

Entry to the Bradgate Park Christmas Fair and Santa’s Grotto is completely free!


5. Experience the echoes of Calke’s Christmas past


This Christmas, wonder down to Calke Abbey and listen closely for whispers that bring alive the story of Calke’s Christmas past. You’ll be lucky enough to explore through the dimly lit tunnels, catching a glimpse of the house itself. When darkness falls the magic awakes and Calke will reveal its true beauty. Surrounded by lanterns and a candle-lit church, you can spend the evening discovering the pleasure grounds in a festive Christmas light.

Father Christmas will be waiting in his stable grotto for his visitors, but be sure too book online as he’s pretty popular this time of year!


6. Improve your Christmas tree decorating skills


The team at East Staffordshire Borough Council have been busy this year making final preparations for their Christmas in Burton programme. Christmas will officially kick off on 20th November when the lights are switched on in Burton Market Place and events will take place throughout December to mark the festive season.

Pay a visit to the Market Hall on Saturday 3rd December, where you can practise your tree decorating skills, spend the day exploring the Christmas Craft Market, and take home some goodies to put on your own Christmas tree.


7. Get festive at the National Memorial Arboretum

The National Memorial Arboretum is playing host to a number of activities that are sure to get you into the Christmas spirit, if you aren’t already! On the 3rd and 4th December workshops will be held to help you create your very own Christmas Holly Wreath to dress your front door. Due to the popularity of this event, advanced booking is essential, and visitors are advised to bring suitable gloves!

Don’t miss out on a traditional Christmas Carol Concert on 17th December from 5.30pm. Come along with family and friends and enjoy singing a number of your favourite carols in the beautiful surroundings of the National Memorial Arboretum.


8. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without any… pantomimes!


If you’re looking for a pantomime fix this year, head down to The Century Theatre in Coalville from Thursday 1st December – Sunday 4th December, where the Panto Company will present the all-time family favourite, Dick Whittington. There’s something for everyone in this feel good panto, which combines chart songs and slapstick humour with romance and a daring adventure!

The fun continues at The Brewhouse Arts Centre on Tuesday 13th December, where Santa needs your helps to find his stolen naughty list! When the pirates of the good ship ‘Christmas Cheer’ offer to help him, Santa needs to decide which children have been good and which have been naughty. But with a lost Rudolph and Santa all at sea, the fight to save Christmas is on!


9. Treat your family and friends to some unique Christmas gifts

It’s that time of year when the panic starts to set in and you find yourself wondering what ‘different’ gifts you can buy for your loved ones, but don’t worry, here at The National Forest we’ve got you covered!


Ashby De La Zouch houses the Ferrer’s Centre for Arts and Crafts, which was first established in 1974 but has now grown to home 16 businesses in the centre. Fill up your hamper by paying a visit to the artisan baker and deli, or why not call into the artistic studios to browse through upholstery, textiles and wildlife paintings. There is also a bespoke framing service available to visitors, to find the perfect frame to suit your loved one.

If you’re heading towards Willington in Derbyshire, pop into the Mercia Marina which hosts a suite of boutiques including furniture, gifts, clothing and accessories. The 74 acre site also houses tea rooms, boat sales and waterside lodges – so there’s plenty of exploring to do!




Why not try something a little different this Christmas? The National Forest provides the opportunity for you to give a gift that will last a lifetime.  Gift a tree to the person of your choice and receive a welcoming invite to the next tree planting event. At The National Forest, we ensure that our trees are looked after so that year on year you can return and see your gift grow and grow.


Find out more about our tree gifting here:


10. Join Santa for a very special train journey


Each year, The Battlefield Line railway offers a special service for those who choose to travel on the Santa train. A deluxe and classic service is provided depending on what you so fancy, but both include food, drinks and a visit to Santa’s Grotto – if you decide to choose the deluxe version you’ll receive your very own personal visit from Santa himself in your own family compartment!

New to 2016, there will be a Santa Evening Train Special on Saturday 10th December, leaving Shackerstone at approximately 6.15pm. This is an exciting trip for the whole family, where you can enjoy a trip in your own compartment, indulge in a delicious Christmas Hamper before receiving a visit from Santa.

The Santa Special Train service runs from Saturday 26th November – 24th December, please book your tickets online here:


11. Enjoy a festive family fun day at a Castle

Turn up whenever you like on Sunday 4th December, between 10am and 3pm to soak up the Christmas spirit at Elvaston Castle. Spend the day browsing for stocking fillers, tasting festive food, writing a letter to Father Christmas and making decorations perfect for the season. What’s more, you can even join Father Christmas in the Gothic Hall to hear Christmas tales.

Visitors are asked to meet at the tops of the castle steps on East Avenue, and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information, please call; 01629 533 870


12. Don’t miss out on the Christmas light switch on!

Watch The National Forest come alive this Christmas, as we prepare for the festive season with our Christmas light switch on.  All across the forest, the venues are celebrating the festive season by switching on pretty lights, accompanied by music and cheer to ensure you leave feeling just that little more christmassy. To ensure you don’t miss out on your closest switch on, we’ve included The National Forest 2016 dates to look out for below:

  • Swadlincote – Friday 25th November
  • Coalville – Saturday  3rd December
  • Ibstock – Saturday 3rd December
  • Melbourne – Friday 2nd December
  • Burton upon Trent – Sunday 20th November

As you make your Christmas memories this year, share your favourite moments with us using #forestlife and @NatForestCo on Twitter or tag us in on Facebook.