Last year we published a list far in excess of 100 things to do at Christmas, sadly this will be a little different, and by no means as long. After the year we’ve all been through, and still living, it’ll be nice to have a festive season with some sort of normality.

So here we go with the SOUTH WALES LIFE feature on things to do this Christmas. I suppose we should put the ‘bah humbug’ warning right at the top here. These events are all subject to any lockdown or COVID restrictions. The organisers are all working really hard to make them safe and guideline friendly, but they could well be subject to change or cancellation.

But let’s hope Santa is kind to us this year and we can at least enjoy some of the great events which are still running.

Bookmark this page as we will be adding to it daily and we have our team designing a whole load of festive things for the kids to make and do.

BRECON

BRECON SANTA SPECIAL

This is like the real life version of the Tom Hanks movie The Polar Express. You get to visit Santa this Christmas and ride the railway to Santa’s grotto. Seriously, this is the perfect experience for families with children, and one we are really pleased they have been able to continue.

They’ve been doing these a little while now, 32 years in fact and they are more popular than ever. Which means you need to get in and book ASAP.


All Children and Babies get a present from Santa. Mulled Wine and Mince Pies are served to the Adults. Best of all though, you get to travel by Steam Hauled Train from Pant Station to Santa’s Grotto in Pontsticill where everyone will receive a present from Father Christmas. 

The SANTA SPECIALS are really popular so if you want to book it’s best to call on 01685-722988. The timetable isn’t published yet but to keep a check on it, just go here BRECON

MAGICAL WINTER WONDERLAND

Cantref Adventure Park is located in Brecon, so just under an hours drive from Cardiff. If you’ve not been before it’s a massive adventure farm and park, with loads to do for the whole family.

This year, at their MAGICAL WINTER WONDERLAND you can meet the elves and have fun in the workshop. They’ll then take you to meet Santa. Obviously he’ll check his official Naughty and Nice list, but we know you’ve all been very good – haven’t you? We’re referring to Mummy and Daddy here by the way. If you have been very good, Santa will present you with his magical golden key which opens the Present Room where you can choose your own gift!

There is so much more to do at Cantref Adventure Park which is great as your MAGICAL WINTER WONDERLAND ticket includes Farm Park entry from 10am to 5pm. For more details just go here CANTREF

BRIDGEND

THE CHRISTMAS VISIT

The Christmas Visit brings Snowflake the elf and Father Christmas to the homes of families through an enchanting theatrical experience full of rich story-telling and magical wonderment.

What is special about this is that each visit will be personalised to the children, who will also receive a gift and Good List certificate.

You do need to book for Father Christmas as he is exceptionally busy this year.

Laura Brind is Principal of The Vale Academy of Performing Arts, she told us……

“As a mum of two boys, I was really disappointed when the Christmas events we had planned to attend started to be cancelled because of coronavirus. This, coupled with the fact that so many talented actors are out of work because of the impact of this pandemic, led me to the idea of ‘The Christmas Visit’.”

Co-director Matthew Brind, a composer and conductor for film, television and West End shows, said……

“This pandemic has brought a total shockwave throughout my industry. It has been tough seeing so many brilliant colleagues having such a difficult time. Equally, it has been great to see how other industries such as mobile hairdressers, cleaners, tradespeople, have adapted their offering and followed strict and careful guidelines so they can continue to work safely at people’s homes.”

The visits will happen between the 1st and 24th December throughout Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend, with more locations to be added soon.

Although these will follow strict Covid-19 safety measures, The Christmas Visit gives families a magical Christmas experience in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

If you’d like more details and to get your family book in, just go here. VISIT

CARDIFF

ICE WALK AT CARDIFF CASTLE

Christmas is coming to Cardiff Castle this year and the main attraction will be the 200m, open air Ice Walk!

We did think skating would be tricky this year but those imaginative folk at Cardiff Castle have come up trumps. To skate you must be 3 years or older. Children’s tickets are available for skaters from 3 years old to 16 years old (inclusive).

Anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied on the ice by someone over the age of 18.

Don’t worry if you find it a little difficult on skates, penguins are available to people under 1.2m in height (when wearing shoes). You do need to pre-book online or they can be bought on site. This height limit is set by the manufacturer to ensure the safety of the person using the penguin – they are unable to allow anyone over 1.2m to use a penguin.

Please be aware they have limited penguins available for sale on site, these are offered on a first come first served basis.

The cost is………..

Adult£11.0017+
Child*£9.003-16
Student**£9.00All
Family***£35.00All

There are lots of guidelines in place, which you can check on their site below.

The Ice Walk at Cardiff Castle runs from 12th November to 3rd January 2021 between 10am and 10pm. You can’t miss the Castle and if you’ve not visited before, it’s on Castle Street (appropriately). For more details and to make a booking, go here CASTLE

SANTA’S PRIVATE VICTORIAN TOURS

Father Christmas will be visiting the again this year but just as 2020 has brought a lot of changes for us, even for Santa Claus there is no exception.

All tickets will need to be be pre-booked, with limited availability.

Dates are……..

29 Nov01 Dec03 Dec
04 Dec06 Dec08 Dec
09 Dec11 Dec13 Dec
14 Dec16 Dec18 Dec
19 Dec21 Dec23 Dec

With the following time slots…..

15:4016:0016:2016:4017:00
17:2017:4018:0018:2018:40
19:0019:20

The tours will run at Cardiff Castle from the 29th November through to 23rd December. Full details will be announced soo. For more information, go here CASTLE TOURS

CARDIFF CHRISTMAS MARKET

The Cardiff Christmas Market will return to the pedestrian streets of Cardiff City Centre in St John Street, Working Street, Hills Street, Trinity Street and the Hayes with yet another exciting and eclectic mix. There are both new and returning exhibitors as their original, hand made products are the essence of what makes our market so different and special every year.

This year will be very different but the organisers have plans in place to make it COVID safe.

This well established Christmas Market sited in the heart of Cardiff City Centre has been organised and successfully in excess of 20 years. It is a unique visitor attraction and offers an alternative shopping experience as you are buying original work directly from the makers themselves. Each year they have an extensive rolling programme of over 200 individual businesses selling a wide variety of diverse arts and crafts interspersed with seasonal food and drink.

CARDIFF CHRISTMAS MARKET runs from Thursday 12th November until Wednesday 23rd December. The trading hours will be: Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm. If you’re in town, especially in the evening, it’s always worth a visit. To find out more, go here. MARKET

FESTIVE FUNFAIR RIDES

There may not be the regular Winter Wonderland this year but you can still enjoy the family friendly funfair on Castle Street which includes a range of games and rides. You can expect to see familiar favourites such as the santacoaster

The rides will be on Castle Street in Cardiff until the 3rd January 2021.

THE RED DRAGON CENTRE AT CHRISTMAS

This festive season when you visit the Red Dragon Centre, you’ll be greeted by twinkling lights, giant Christmas puddings, seasonal light projections, the centre’s famous Christmas tree. Explore the centre and discover Blizzard the Snow Dragon; a state-of-the-art augmented reality creation which will be visible to anyone with a smart phone – brand new for 2020.

For more details on what’s happening at the Centre, go here. RED DRAGON

To download a copy of the Cardiff Christmas Map, just click on the link below…….

CARDIFF CHRISTMAS MAP

NEWPORT

BELLE VUE PARK TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS FAYRE

Belle Vue Park is the place to buy all you will need for your Christmas food and gift ideas.

The weekend will start at 11.00am Saturday and last until Sunday at 4.00pm with over 50 stalls full of delicious, hand made and locally produced goodies. Gifts from local crafters as well as artists and creators will be on hand to take your Christmas orders. You can then pick up at Belle Vue later if you like.

Get your Christmas tree on the weekend and you can order your turkey with all of the trimmings. Both locally produced.

They will have music for all tastes on the bandstand.

Elves are going to be busy telling stories and taking children around the park. Who knows, Santa may come along to help feed the real reindeers who are going to be in the orangery separated from the huddle and bustle of the market. tickets to see them are additional and available separately.

They will observe all Covid 19 rules and regulations.

A limited number of tickets are available on the day. However, buying guarantees you entry into the raffle and will include a taste of mulled wine and Welsh cake

There are three types of ticket to enter the event:

  • Saturday Morning 11.00am – 1.00pm
  • Saturday afternoon 1.00 pm – 6.00pm
  • Sunday 10.00am – 4.00pm

Entry into the Park is free to the general public but without tickets, access to the Christmas Fayre will be unavailable. Incidentally, tickets are only £1.50.

Belle Vue Park is on Waterloo Road in Newport. If you’d like to book yourself in, just go here BELLE VUE

CHRISTMAS AT TREDEGAR HOUSE

Things are very different at Tredegar House this year but you can still get into the Christmas spirit as they’ve dressed the house and gardens in traditional decorations for a truly festive experience.

They have all have our favourite ways to ring in the festive cheer of the holidays. This year things have been a little different, but they are still celebrating Christmas traditions – those from days gone by and those we still follow today.

You get to travel through time in the beautifully adorned 17th century mansion house in traditional decorations, from garlands to wreaths and a twinkling Christmas tree in almost every corner.

The Christmas Experience

This year they have decorated throughout the gardens and mansion house, which are full of festive cheer.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation they aren’t able to offer the Father Christmas experience, or some other elements including Scrooge, craft activities, singalongs and school visits.

On Saturday 12th December Cotyledon Markets will have their craft and food market. Tickets are not required to attend the market.

What you need to know

Dates: 27th – 29th November, 4th – 6th, 11th – 13th, 18th – 21st December

Opening times: Garden open 10.30am – 4pm, mansion house open 11.00am – 3.30pm. Last entry to house 3.00pm. Brewhouse café open 10am to 4pm.

Prices: Normal admission charges apply, National Trust members free. They recommend booking your tickets in advance as numbers are limited to ensure social distancing. Tickets are released on a Friday morning for the following week.

Extras: Prams are not permitted into the house due to the historic floors. Pram parking is available at the entrance to the house.

Winter family adventures

They’ve also picked some of their favourite 50 Things activities to complete over Winter in the gardens and parklands. In the parkland you can also take part in the reindeer trail – see you many you can spot!

For more details on what is going on, just head here. TREDEGAR

PORTHCAWL

The Hi-Tide is a well know venue during the annual Elvis Festival, this year it’ll be showing some festive movies thanks to the guys at Firefly Cinema Club.

As you can imagine it will be a “safe and Covid-secure” event and it will work under any local lockdown restrictions in Bridgend County Borough.

As for the movies, they are all our favourites. Elf, Home Alone, Muppets Christmas Carol, Nightmare before Christmas and The Polar Express and you get to watch them from the comfort, and warmth of your own car.

You can also treat yourself to popcorn, hot dogs and burgers.

The DRIVE-IN MOVIES will be at the Hi-Tide for one week only from  Monday 7th to Friday 11th December. For more details, go here. MOVIES

SWANSEA

Swansea are putting on a COVID safe and festive Christmas with new lights, a Christmas Market, Christmas trees in the city centre and a virtual Christmas parade.

The Christmas Market will be around Oxford Street with stalls selling a variety of festive gifts, treats, food and drink.

Partners Sayers Events will be laying on a festive Alpine Village with festive food available – which will be at Museum Park where Waterfront Winterland usually is.

This will include an ice skating path through a festive woodland instead of the usual ice rink as well as the centre-piece giant wheel which is being set up this coming weekend.

A Swansea Christmas is underway right now.

USK

USK WINTER SWIMS

This may not be your traditional festive event but it’ll be fun, if you don’t mind getting your Jingle Bells in the cold water…..

This swim session will take in the glorious surroundings of the River Usk from the banks of the river before swimming downstream. The organise Angela will share swimming and safety techniques and advice and guidance on winter swimming to help you enjoy swimming wild.

What’s included:

  • Event led by highly qualified & fully insured wild swim specialist Angela Jones
  • Angela has over 30 years experience swimming the river Wye and Usk
  • Welcome & safety briefing
  • Advice on reading the river
  • Water entry and acclimatisation techniques
  • Guidance on swim techniques
  • Safety and event support team
  • 1K wild walk along banks of river Usk
  • 1K guided wild swim downstream
  • Hot drink and cake
  • Wetsuit and tow floats available to hire
  • Goggles, swim hats, water shoes and tow floats available to purchase at event

Equipment & What you need to take part

  • Arrive in your swim suit with casual training clothes over the top
  • Wetsuit (essential)
  • Towfloat (essential)
  • Suitable water shoes with a good grip (essential)
  • Swim hat (essential)
  • Goggles
  • Towel
  • Warm clothes and bobble hat for after swim
  • Wetsuits & towfloats available to hire at the event
  • Change robes, towel robes, towfloats, water shoes, swim hats and goggles available to purchase at the event

Meeting Time & Location

  • 2pm
  • Usk Island Car Park, Pontypool Road, Usk

The USK WINTER SWIMS will be ld on a variety of dates and we’ve linked each of them below…..

The evening swims meet at the same location at 6pm on the following dates…..

PANTOMIMES

PETER PAN ON THE BIG SCREEN

OWEN MONEY will be presenting Peter Pan on the BIG SCREEN!

This is Rainbow Valley Productions very own version of the J.M Barrie classic! With songs, adventure, romance and laughter and even a giant Crocodile! get your family booked in before all the places are SNAPPED up!

Owen Money will be there to open the showing! and they also have some little treats in store OH YES THEY DO!!!

​There are stacks of dates scheduled and if you’d like to get your family off for this Drive-In Panto experience, check the time, dates and tickets right here. PETER PAN

There will be showings on

  • Christmas Eve
  • Boxing Day
  • New Years Eve
  • No screening on Christmas Day

The venue dates are…….

  • Porthcawl – Hi Tide car park from 12th to 31st December
  • Cardiff City Stadium – away car park from 14th to 31st December 
  • Ffos Las Racecourse from 18th to 31st December
  • Merthyr’s Cyfartha Castle from 18th to 31st December

They will also be screening the wonderful adult Pantomime Buttons Undone! (At Porthcawl only).

This is a pre-recording of the production which will be projected onto our big screen, just like our drive-through movies. However Owen Money will be at the venue, as well as surprise experiences, merchandise and other fun excitements!

PARKING LOT SOCIAL WINTER FESTIVAL

Now, before we go any further, we need to tell you one of the dates is already sold out, so you need to get in fast. They do however have a waiting list and so many other things going on as well as the panto.

The Pantomime itself will be an enchanted evening of entertainment beneath the glow of a 60ft tall rainbow-coloured Christmas tree as you get to watch a brand new, 2020 drive-in version of panto classic Cinderella! A troupe of nine professional actors will melt hearts as audiences follow Cinders on her adventures, helped by the Fairy Godmother. The specially written show has song and dance routines a-plenty, audience participation galore and a script that takes a light-hearted dig at some of the challenges thrown up by this strangest of years.

The show will be broadcast across two massive screens, there’s not a bad seat in the house with the stage and cast visible from all spaces. And let’s be honest about this, you don’t have any worries about parking spaces, keeping everyone together on your way to the venue. You’ll be in your own car, with your own parking spot.

You don’t even have to worry about food. There’ll be hearty, seasonal fayre from some of the best local food trucks around. Classic gourmet burgers, loaded fries, wood-fired pizzas and hot dogs alongside sweet winter warmers including hot chocolate, donuts, toasted nuts, gingerbread men & more.

But we did say it’s a complete festival………

They have so much more going on than just the Panto. To read our full feature, go here. PARKING LOT

20 THINGS TO DO ON CHRISTMAS EVE

  • Spend Time With Loved Ones
  • Sing Christmas Carols
  • Go For a Walk To Look at Christmas Lights
  • Close The Curtains and Turn On The Christmas Lights
  • Take Pictures and Post Them
  • Open ONE Pressie
  • Make a Special Meal
  • Dress Up Like It’s a Special Evening (which it is)
  • Get Snuggled Up On The Sofa
  • Watch A Festive Movie
  • Follow Santa – There are Apps Which Let You Track His Progress
  • TV Off, Christmas Music On
  • Leave a Mince Pie For Santa & Carrot For Rudolph
  • Drop In On The Neighbours
  • Bake. Whatever You Make, It’s A Great Time to Get in the Kitchen With the Kids
  • Go To Church – If That’s What You Do, Plan It Into Your Evening
  • Make A Hot Chocolate With All The Extras. It’s Christmas After All.
  • Build A Snowman (If We Have Any Snow That Is)
  • Prepare What You Can For Christmas Dinner
  • Go To Bed Early

ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS DAY

Go For a Dip In The Sea

On Christmas Day, all across South Wales and indeed up and down the country, people are putting on their Santa hats, maybe fancy dress, or unbelievably, a swimming costume (may not happen this year, we’ll let you know). They then race into the freezing sea for fun and charity. Like the lovely folk in Tenby.

Get Out On Your Bike

If you get a bike off Santa, or maybe you have one collecting dust in the shed, Christmas Day (weather permitting) is the perfect time to take your two-wheeler out on the streets.

Go To A Christmas Service or Concert

If you’ve had enough of the TV and kitchen, then one of the many services and Christmas concerts are a really good thing to do. It’s sociable and incredibly festive. And really no one minds if you can’t sing, just join in.

Help Others

There are so many charities in need volunteers all year round, but especially at Christmas. If you have a few hours free and want to do something different and very good, why not offer to lend a hand. It could even be dropping in to a neighbour who is alone on the day.

Tour South Wales

I know what you’re thinking, how ridiculous. Actually, there is no better day to tour this amazing region of ours. Very few cars, relatively empty streets, what’s not to enjoy? Our parks, beaches and countryside are all yours (almost).

Borrow a Dog

If you don’t have your own, trust us, a friend will gladly lend you theirs. While they veg-out, you can lead-up their pet and get out for a long walk in the fresh air. The dog will love you for it and you’ll probably love yourself enough to have another mince pie.

Pamper Yourself

This is precisely what it says on the tin. If you don’t want to leave the house why not flip things on their head and instead of pigging out in front of the TV, pamper yourself. Nice bath, music, candles, the whole works. All day Christmas PJ’s are so last year.

A LETTER FROM YOU KNOW WHO

We don’t know if this will help but it’s here for you to do as you please. We’re sure you know what we mean………

MAKE A SNOW GLOBE

The shimmering magic of snowfall is always transfixing, whether it’s outside your window or inside this classic toy. Homemade globes let you create a wintry scene straight out of your own imagination. Thanks to Martha Stewart, here’s a simple way that you and the kids can make your own globes. They are really easy too.

FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS SONGS

CHRISTMAS TOP TEN

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a good old festive tune. Noddy Holder has made a pension out of it for goodness sake. We walk into a shop and the same old favourites will be ringing out, but no matter what you think, I can guarantee you’ll be singing along to every one of them.

Mariah Carey continues to keep the Number One slot. Unbelievably though, her festive song never made it to the actual top slot in the charts on release. It played second fiddle to East 17 – Stay Another Day.

Strangely enough, in a list of the WORST Christmas songs, both Mariah Carey and Band Aid make it into the Top Ten there too. Number One by the way is the truly awful Proper Crimbo – Bo Selecta.

Here at SOUTH WALES LIFE we’ve been around the music game for a lot of years, and I mean a lot. While we would never disagree with the list, we think there are a few Top Ten omissions…….

And to finish off, here are 20 Christmas Favourites to enjoy….

CHRISTMAS RECIPES

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