There’s loads of festive things and cheap days out you can do with the kids before Christmas that don’t have to cost the earth, but will get you in the mood for the big day. Here’s my pick of the best ones. Do remember though that some places will get very busy and some activities may be subject to availability / queuing.
Victorian Christmas at Milton Keynes Museum.
Hands down it’s one of the best value days out you can do with the kids locally, but at Christmas it’s especially worth it. In addition to the awesome telephone gallery (try and get the kids away), cooking toast on a real fire, transport area, old school and toy room, they put on special activities for a Victorian style Christmas that you get included. They include, snow in the indoor high street, free mulled wine (I loved this!), free hot chestnuts, Christmas crafts and bell ringers. It only costs £9 for an adult, £6 for a child and it’s free for under 5s but that gets you in for the WHOLE YEAR and includes all their other special events too. It’s a no-brainer. You need to go quick though to experience Christmas. 15th, 16th Dec 1.30pm-6pm and 14th December, 4.30pm-7pm. They have a Santa too which is £7 but best to call ahead and book. MK12 5EL. You can read my previous review of what the museum is like on a normal day here.
Crazy Christmas Houses
We are fortunate to live in Milton Keynes where we have some of the best Christmas streets and houses in the whole country. You must go! At the time of writing I’ve visited both Kennington Close in Newport Pagnell and Summerhayes in Great Linford and they are both bigger and better than last year. They all do it to raise money for charity. Just take along a couple of pounds – or more if you’re feeling generous – and have a cheap evening out with the children. Please don’t leave it too late. Every year I get messages from people in January who are disappointed when they find out the lights have been taken down. I’ve put together this guide to the best Christmas houses so there’s no excuse.
See a free Santa
Some of the most popular Santas like the one at Frosts in Woburn Sands get booked up really quickly and you may be worrying that you’ve left it too late to book a good one. Well never fear, a couple of big places in Milton Keynes really want to get you in their shops and spending money so they’re offering free ones. Ikea has one on weekends, 11am-5pm. Just turn up. MK1 1QB. Nikki says “Very realistic and took the time to have a chat. You get a free badge and cookie too”. And Xscape (where the snow dome is) also has one 11am – 5pm. You can’t prebook it anymore but you can turn up on the day and queue – weekends 10th Nov – 23rd Dec as well as 20, 21, 24 Dec. Milton Keynes Kids facebook group member Lisa says “We didn’t prebook. We went about 2.30pm and waited 15 mins to see him. The kids loved it and was given a good present each. He asked my oldest how to get in the house and he said chimney so santa make sure it’s not hot as I burnt my bottom last year and my little one cracked up. Really worth a visit” The top picture is Xscape and the bottom one is Ikea.
Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands
Frosts looks beautiful and there are quite a few things the kids will enjoy seeing including singing reindeer, big artificial grass animals, a miniature Christmas scene and a huge lit up reindeer outside. Go outside where the plants are and there’s a big circular Santa they can stand in, a sleigh and a couple of displays. The only problem is they do sell lovely things so you’ll probably be tempted to buy stuff. There is a very small area for kids to play in which is at the back of the cafe which has several wooden puzzles. If you’re travelling from outside of the area, you may as well go to Wyevale (see below) which is down the road. Frosts postcode is MK17 8UE.
Wyevale Garden Centre, Woburn Sands
Not worth going out of your way for on a weekday, but if you’re going to Frosts you may as well go to Wyevale too. There’s an animatronic polar bear and a reindeer that my 3 year old likes. Whilst you’re there, there’s a charity crazy golf outside which is raising money for Marie Curie; you can see the big fish (there’s one that looks like a shark) and there’s a decent small soft play there which costs £1.75 for an hour and is suitable for under 5s. If however you go at a weekend then they have some extra free Christmas activities on before Christmas – see their facebook page for details. MK17 8UF.
Fairy Trail, Rushmere Country Park
One of our favourite cheap outdoor places to go is Rushmere Country Park in Bedfordshire – only a short drive from Milton Keynes. It has a really cool big slide, smaller play area for toddlers, a giant’s chair, giant spider and fairy doors to find. Over the festive period they have a number of extra fairy sculptures to see too. You pay £3 to park and the trail is £2. It’s on until 6th January. Pictures are from a couple of years ago. LU7 0EB
Winter Wonderland, Wyevale, World’s End, Wendover
We haven’t been, but it’s come recommended two years running – there’s a Winter Wonderland walk through at Wyevale World’s End Garden Centre in Wendover. It costs £3. Apparently it can get busy at weekends so may be worth seeing if you can go in the week if you have young children. HP22 6BD
Bletchley Park, home of the Codebreakers, one of the cultural jewels in Milton Keynes’ crown. If you haven’t been, go now. There’s the mansion house to explore, the huts and the most awesome history of radio building which includes a fab working display of amateur radio. I love the projections of people in the huts – my eldest son finds them a bit to real. He does however like the tablet and headphones you get to walk around with. It’s a bit more sophisticated than Milton Keynes Museum in its hands-on exhibits so my 5 year old got more out of it than my 3 year old did. That said under 12s go free – so you have nothing to lose by taking children of any age. Why I say go now is that it’s relatively good value anyway in that you pay once and can go all year. But residents with one of theses postcodes can pay just £9.25 before 31st December if you can prove where you live and have some ID with you – HP22, LU5-7, LU95, MK1, MK1-19, MK43, MK45, MK46, MK77, MK98 and NN12. On the spur of the moment we also paid to see Santa. It was £7. My son did some good crafts and listened to festive tunes from a man on a guitar whilst we waited. It was coming up for 45 mins before we were seen – so my son was just at that point when he was asking when it was his turn. Santa was great – as many pictures as you like, big grotto, lovely with my 5 year old – he got a yo-yo which he was delighted with. MK3 6EB
Want more ideas of days out?
There are so many places you can take the children. Have a look at my Ultimate Days Out Guide which features the best indoor days out, summer days out (may be good for winter walks) and all the best parks.
I'm Laura, mum of a 6 year old and a 4 year old. Do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contact me. Don't forget to follow all of our latest adventures on facebook, instagram and twitter and have a look at all of the videos of the places we visit on my new Milton Keynes Kids YouTube Channel - subscribe to it for notifications every time I add a new place.