The Best Christmas Days Out In Central Scotland 2018

I know it’s waaay to early to be thinking about Christmas, but the truth of the matter is tickets for Christmas events sell out early.  Some may already be sold out!  I know I have been too late at booking tickets to visit Santa in the past and the boys missed out (I really need to make a decision for this year quick!).  So this list should hopefully help you get a head start on the Christmas days out booking.

Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway

My boys love visiting Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway at any time of year and Christmas is an extra special time.  You can book tickets to ride on the ‘Santa Train’, which runs 4 times a day for the first 4 weekends of December in 2018.

santa train scotland

The Santa train is a steam pulled train with a visit from Santa himself.  Each child receives an age appropriate gift from Santa and you can also visit the museum as usual too.  Adults get a free mince pie to collect from the platform too! Click here to check dates and book tickets.

Santa’s Woodland Experience

At North Ballochruin Farm by Balfron Station there is a fab Santa experience set in the woodland.  We visited last year and loved the whole experience.  You enter the cabin as a small group, which makes it a great visit for the children.

meeting santa

The experience begins with a short ride in a trailer pulled by a tractor through the woods to Santa’s cottage.  The children ran up and knocked on the door where they are greeted by Santa himself. The cosy cottage is warm and the children all seemed to immediately feel at home inside. The Santa was great and talked to each child individually and gave each a present.  We had two extremely happy children on the way back on the tractor!  Dates are available from 30th November to 24th December.

Some times are already sold out, so book here ASAP if you want to visit Santa in the woods.

Edinburgh’s Christmas

Edinburgh Christmas ferris wheel

Edinburgh has a fantastic Christmas programme.  From the Christmas market, to shows and ice skating, there is so much to see.  We love to visit the Christmas market and look at all the interesting gifts and decorations, go on some of the rides (the Ferris wheel has amazing views!) and watch the ice skaters.

You can eat all the usual Christmas market food and there are plenty of shows on for both families and adults only.  We’ve enjoyed some great family shows over the last few years.

If you are driving into Edinburgh remember that you can always use the park and ride on the tram from Ingliston.  This makes it a lot quicker to get out of the city again afterward.

Finlaystone Santa’s Grotto

Finlaystone Estate is a beautiful place for an explore on any day, but why not book a visit to see Santa too.  Follow the magical trail to find Santa in his very own grotto.

robin on twig in snow

Pre-booking is essential so that you are given your own time slot and no queuing is required.

Christmas At The Mills

New Lanark mills is located South of Glasgow, with two Christmas themed options to book.  First of all you can choose the Christmas At the Mills option, which includes The Spirit of Christmas ride, Santa’s grotto with a small gift for each child, a festive colouring in pack and entry to the rest of New Lanark’s attractions.

clyde walk

Alternatively you can book the Christmas pantomine option to see Beauty and The Beastie, a Scottish twist on the classic story.  This doesn’t include Santa’s Grotto or any entry to New Lanark’s other attractions, this would need to be paid for separately.

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is a stunning light display in a woodland near Pitlochry.  You park in Pitlochry and wait for your bus to take you to the forest at your tickets allotted time.  When you arrive in the dark forest you will be amazed at all the different light displays throughout the woodland and there are normally some acrobatics too.

Refreshments are available in the woodland, but you may well be too busy looking around in awe!  We love visiting the Enchanted Forest 3 years ago and are booked to visit again this year, I can’t wait!  Head over here to book tickets and find out more.

Santa Land Princes Garden

Edinburgh’s Christmas is great, although for the boys their favourite part is heading across to Santa Land.  In Santa Land there are lots of rides for the children to choose from, a miniature train around the perimeter and a maze of Christmas trees to explore.

Santas land edinburgh

Yes it can be expensive, but it’s also an amazing and magical day out for the children, so if you can visit it I would highly recommend it!  We usually set a limit to how much each child can spend, but they always want to go on the ‘Santa train’ and explore the Christmas tree maze.

santa land Edinburgh

Check out Edinburgh’s Christmas page to find out more.

Glasgow Pantomime

There are so many pantomimes throughout the country, but one of the biggest is to be Cinderella at Glasgow’s SEC Armadillo.

Cinderella will feature the much loved Krankies and Gavin Mitchell from Still Game, who will put on a hilarious show with many special effects, music and Scottish panto magic.

Santa On The Snow

The Snow Factor has a new Santa experience which includes a visit to Elf school before heading over to Santa’s workshop to make a Christmas decoration to take home with them.  After making the Christmas decoration the children will meet Santa (in a small group) and listen to a short story reading from Santa before receiving a gift.  They will exit out into the snow play are for a play in real snow.

Visiting Santa and getting to play in the snow sounds like a perfect Christmas experience to me.  I know both my two would love it and looking at the reviews the Santa is normally pretty good as well!

Dates are available from late November through to Christmas Eve, head over here to book at Snow Factor.

Irn Bru Carnival

The Irn Bru Carnival at Glasgow‘s SECC is Europe’s largest indoor funfair.  It’s open from 21st December until 14th January and there are rides for all ages.  Littlest ones can use the soft play area and a selection of smaller rides and bigger kids and adults have a whole host of adrenaline filled rides to test out.

fairground rides

Tickets include 10 vouchers which can be used for the rides and also the funfair stalls too.  My two had great time, although littlest was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t tall enough for some of the rides, so make sure you check the height restrictions to warn younger children beforehand.

Christmas At The Botanics

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens will be hosting a mile long trail after dark with a spectacular light display.  The trail is open at the end of November and throughout December.

Along the trail will be exciting illuminations, seasonal food and drink and late night shopping in the RBGE shop.  There is on street parking at by the West Gate, or you can arrive at the East Gate by public transport.

Tickets can be bought online here.

Santa’s at Almond Valley

During December Santa is back at Almond Valley near Livingston.  You can choose from simply visiting him in his cottage for a meeting and gift or breakfast with Santa, afternoon tea or a supper with Santa.  It’s a great way to see Santa and either play in Almond Valley or in the soft play are after supper.

almond valley

Santa will be in his cosy cottage in the forest waiting to hand out early Christmas presents to little ones who venture out to find him.  Almond Valley will be decorated for Christmas.

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