Since having children I’ve realised Christmas is the one time of year that kids’ activities and adult activities merge as I regress to a childlike elf. So as I tuck into another selection box and raid the Advent Calendar here’s Tots2Travel’s Top 5 Family Days out in Scotland.1 Christmas Markets – twinkling lights, mulled wine, hot cider, bratworst, toys, gifts, skating, magic. Every year the Scottish Christmas markets get more shimmer, shine and sparkle. The capital, Edinburgh, is well established with many facets to their festive fling (Santa Land, Children’s Market and a European Christmas Market, not to mention its new Street of Light). But if you fancy heading further north this year Aberdeen has pushed the baubles out with a new Christmas Village in the city centre so wrestle your tots into their hats, scarves and gloves and go forth!
2 Ythanbank Reindeer Centre, Ellon – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without those reindeer chaps so let your tot meet Santa’s reindeer, visit his sleigh barn and sit on his sleigh, drop by his grotto and post him a letter. Santa himself won’t be there (he’s a bit busy right now- work commitments) but it might be possible to hand-feed the reindeer if they are inquisitive and approach you. [There’s also a fab reindeer centre in Aviemore if that location suits you better.]
3 Meet Santa aboard a real steam engine at the Caledonian Railway, Brechin. The Santa Special leaves Brechin station for its eight mile, one hour round trip stopping for a ten minute break at Bridge of Dun.
It’s described as a ‘festive steam hauled train journey through the picturesque Angus countryside on Strathmore’s historic branch line. All paying passengers will get to meet the man himself and will receive a gift from one of his very helpful elves!’ What more could you want?
The trips puff away on Sunday 6 December, Saturday 12 December, Sunday 13 December, Saturday 19 December and Sunday 20 December at 1100, 1215, 1330 and 1445.
[Another festive steam option is the Strathspey Steam Railway in Aviemore – this December it’s offering a Santa Express, Mince Pie Specials and Christmas Lunch/Dinner Specials – so much steam to choose from. And in Milton of Crathes in Aberdeenshire the Royal Deeside Railway runs Santa Specials so there’s something for little train spotters across the country.]
4 Snow Factor, Braehead, Glasgow – If you want guaranteed snow when you meet Mr Claus then Snow Factor in Braehead has nailed it. Santa waits in his grotto on the slope, ready to welcome children and offer a small present. There’s also the option for brunch, lunch or dinner with Santa Claus – this package includes 30 minutes of sledging, a present and a short story group reading from Santa himself. A memorable option when your snow angel fancies some festive après ski.
5 Cinderella by Scottish Ballet – Many families jump at the Panto each Christmas but for any budding Billy Elliot an afternoon at the ballet would get them in a spin. This year Scottish Ballet is razzle dazzling us with Cinderella. We all know the story but the promised lavish costumes and extravagant sets will also be a draw for theatrical tots, and cultured musical tots can appreciate the Prokofiev score. The ballet runs in Edinburgh 5-31 December 2015, in Glasgow 12-16 January 2016, in Aberdeen 20-23 January 2016, and in Inverness 27-30 January 2016.