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December Days Out

North Yorkshire has so much to offer this season which can put you in that festive mood on the countdown to Christmas.   The nearby market towns of Pickering & Helmsley are great places to pick up that unusual gift...but if you want to leave the hustle & bustle of the Christmas Shopping behind, there is still so much to see & do.  


I have to put together a list of things to do in the area & the dates of you can catch those Carols at Rievulx Abbey or visit Castle Howard to see their decorations. Or maybe you want to know the best place to see Santa.....


 Be warned some of these places require you to buy tickets in advance, so best to prepare your days in advance.

Places to See Santa

Let's face it, if you are on holiday with a little one, you'll want to see the man in Red

Santa Claus at North Yorkshire Moors Railway!

Santa Claus at North Yorkshire Moors Railway!

Santa Claus is coming to the…

North Yorkshire Moors Railway!

Santa Special Dates departing from Pickering Station:

30 November, 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 & 22 December 2019.  

Santa Specials will depart from Pickering Station at:

9:35, 11:10, 13:55 & 15:30, lasting approximately 75 minutes


Join Santa and his special helpers on a magical adventure aboard the Santa Express, which will take you on a festive journey you won’t forget!

Departing from Pickering Station, the Santa Express brings Christmas to life and gives children the chance to meet the legendary man himself on board the train. They will be able to tell him what they would like to open on Christmas morning - providing they’ve managed to keep themselves off the naughty list this year!


Price Adult £23, Child £23 including present and activity bag.

Find out more at

An Audience with

Father Christmas

at Castle Howard

Audience with Father Christmas

Sat 23rd November 2019 to Mon 23rd December 2019


Make Christmas memories that will last a life time with a visit to see Father Christmas at our popular Fireside Audiences.  Gather around the fire with Father Christmas and his friends as he tells stories and sings songs before handing out personalised presents, with opportunities for pictures with Father Christmas too.

Child ticket includes:

- Visit to Father Christmas
- Access to House & Gardens
- Invitation from Father Christmas
- Personalised Gift

Each session will last approx 45 minutes at selected times throughout the day (please check the booking page for individual dates and times).

£27.50 per child, £22.50 per child for Friends of Castle Howard 

A Christmas Experience at

Flamingo Land

Santa’s Grotto 🎅
reindeer 🦌
an interactive show 🤩
Mrs Claus’s kitchen 🤶
Peter Rabbit 🐰
real life nativity 😍
Santa Express 🚂
and access to our. award winning zoo 🦓
incredible theme park 🎢
and so much more magical fun 🎄❄️☃️🎁

Thorton Le Dale Lights Switch on

with Santa!

Thorton Le Dale Christmas Light Switch on!

The Village Christmas Lights are switched on the first Saturday in December. This year switch on will be SATURDAY 7th December 

Santa will arrive at 5pm in his usual unique transport. The Lights will be switched on at 6.00 pm.


However things will be underway from around 4.30 pm. with a variety of seasonal stalls serving hot food and mulled wine in the area around The Green.  This year we are planning a new stall which will offer you the opportunity to play the most unusual games! There will also be the regular musical contributions from the E.A.S.Y. Band and the local school choir. Santa Claus will be arriving at 5pm and will be around for the rest of the evening with gifts for all the children who visit his grotto.

Festive Days Out

Ice factor and Yorkshire WinterWonderland


16th November 2019 – 5th January 2019 (excluds Xmas Day)


Where: York Designer Outlet or call 01653 619169 for more

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland continues to host the North of England’s largest and best-loved outdoor ice rink – The Ice Factor. With its giant 30ft Christmas tree as the centrepiece for the event, the rink is surrounded by an illuminated forest, log cabins, and café.

Selected as one of the Top 10 Christmas Ice Rinks nationwide by The Sun, The Guardian and The Times

And after your session, enjoy a warming drink beside the rink in Papa Hütte at The Ice Factor – offering rinkside refreshment within a heated alpine-themed chalet, complete with cosy furs, rustic wooden tables and benches and the warming scent of Glühwein.

Winners of York Tourism Award, Visitor Attraction (under 50,000) 2010, 2012, 2015 and most recently Family Friendly Experience 2017!

With more than 120 stores inside York Designer Outlet, as well as some speciality stalls outside, it’s the perfect place for Christmas shopping!

The funfair has excitement for everyone. Enjoy a thrilling ride on an original 1930’s speedway, traditional Carousel or Dodgems. Test your skills on the game stalls and win a prize every time or simply grab some candy floss and watch the fun around you.

And for the little ones, Father Christmas awaits in his grotto with a special gift.

At Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland – there’s something for everyone!

And remember, it’s made of 100% real ice.

Northern Lights




Northern Lights Express will operate:

30 November & 1, 7, 8, 12*, 13*, 14, 15, 19*, 20*, 21, 22 & 23* December, departing at 7pm.

*Two evening services will operate on highlighted dates departing at 5pm and 7pm.

Join us this winter for a trip on our new, Northern Lights Express! This truly spectacular illuminated journey starts at Pickering Station, where our train with heritage carriages awaits you – decorated with thousands of lights.

You will travel through a twinkling forest which is transformed by a multitude of lights and surprises. You will then arrive at Levisham Station, where a dazzling light show will begin. Experience a light extravaganza and a snow covered authentic heritage station, like you’ve never seen before!

  • See the Northern Lights Express illuminated at Pickering Station. 

  • Travel through a twinkling forest, transformed by a multitude of lights and surprises!

  • Experience a 60-minute journey on board the Northern Lights Express. 

  • Travel to Levisham Station, where you will see a dazzling light show, as our heritage steam engine prepares for the return journey

Christmas at

Castle Howard


New for Christmas 2019! Christmas opening will run into the new year - until Sunday 5th January 2020.

Enjoy a truly magical day out as Castle Howard is transformed for the festive season. Experience the magnificent decorations as you journey through the House’s grand state rooms. Open fires, candle light and live music evoke all that we love about this special time of year, with the iconic 25 foot Christmas tree adorned with over 3000 baubles providing a breath-taking highlight in the Great Hall.

The Castle Howard "Christmas Masquerade” celebrates the House’s theatrical roots and the influence of the Italian Baroque on its magnificent architecture and interiors. The House prepares for a grand masked ball inspired by the Venetian Carnival to be held in the Long Gallery spectacularly adorned as the Grand Canal. Amongst the sumptuous decorations and awe inspiring costumes, a troupe of travelling players prepare festive entertainments for the guests. These ebullient, mischievous characters - Harlequin, Colombine, Pierrot and the Zanni Clown are part of the famous Commedia dell Arte who became the much-loved characters of the pantomimes that remain one of our best beloved Christmas traditions. A magical immersive experience that will embody the spirit of the season in true Castle Howard style.

Visit on one of our Twilight Evenings and discover Castle Howard in a new light as night falls as we stay open in to the Evening. Witness it adorned by candlelight with the smell of burning log fires and entertainment throughout the evening. Last entry to the House will be at 7pm (twilight admission included in a regular admission ticket).

It is easy to spend a full day here as you soak up the jovial atmosphere, enjoy an array of indulgent winter warmers across our catering outlets and complete your Christmas shopping in our Gift Shops, Farm Shop and Garden Centre. And don’t miss the opportunity to meet the big man himself as Father Christmas will be making some very special visits.

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