Cinderella’s Castle and Winter Wonderlands

Step into the magic of Cinderella at Belvoir Castle from 18 November 2022 to 1 January 2023. The Castle will be transformed by award-winning interior designer, Charlotte Lloyd-Webber of CLW Event Design. Wander round the lavishly decorated spaces and admire the exquisite gardens adorned with twinkling lights which line the route to the Engine Yard which will be full of Christmas cheer, shopping, festive food and more. Little ones can look forward to Father Christmas at the Castle where the famous Belvoir elves will guide them to Santa’s grotto, while Mrs Claus will be on hand to read a Christmas tale.

Families can enjoy a great day out at Conkers’ Winter Wonderland near Ashby-de-la-Zouch. The elf adventure will run on 26 and 27 November and on selected dates in December up till Christmas Eve. Adults will receive mulled wine with a special treat, while children will be given a delicious treat during the Winter Wonderland Walk. Santa’s Chief Elf and his team will introduce the little ones to Barny Owl’s storytime, the Singing Reindeer trio and the snowman band, before heading through the Watersides Enchanted Forest and the Valley of Christmas Lights to discover Santa’s Woodland Grotto.

Discover the history of Christmas at the beautiful Whatton House in Loughborough, set within 15 acres of beautiful English countryside. A Yuletide Tale is a 30-minute interactive experience, with plenty of festive fun and fayre on offer. Unearth the origins of Midwinter Magic while meeting the mischievous Lord of Misrule as he ventures through time to reveal The Holly King, the first St Nicholas, Krampus and more.

Twinlakes family theme park in Melton Mowbray is hosting a Winter Wonderland. Packed with gingerbread decorating workshops, meet and greet sessions, competitions and character events, step inside the grotto to experience the fairy tale forest and ride the Christmas Train through thousands of festive lights and sights. After this, you will be greeted by Santa’s elves who will introduce you to the main man himself in his Christmas grotto!


Christmas on the rails and animal experiences

Steam into Christmas at the Great Central Railway where Santa swaps his sleigh for a fun-filled ride on the award winning Santa Specials, where you can meet and chat with the man himself! The Winter Wonderlights trains inspired by Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus also return this year, as Charnwood’s picturesque countryside shines brightly on this ride soundtracked by the music of The Christmasaurus! Look out for special guests and join in a sing-along at Rothley Station. Visitors can also buy the book with their tickets at a special discount price. And from the 30 November through to the 23 November, stop at the Quorn and Woodhouse station for the Woodhouse Winter Fair! There will be a Synthetic Ice Skating Rink, Fun Fair and a selection of festive food stalls!

Twycross Zoo is taking you to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas from 17 December to 3 January. Snowy trees and festooned lighting will immerse you in an unforgettable winter experience, and a chance to see the Zoo’s beautiful snow leopards up close. Get your skates on at the Zoo’s first-ever ice skating rink, then warm up at Après Zoo, an alpine-style hut serving mulled wine, hot chocolate and tasty festive snacks. The Zoo’s View restaurant will be transformed into a cosy Alpine Lodge, and from 20-24 December, get your Santa Selfie, as the man in red stops by for a special meet and greet and festive sing-along! There are a limited number of £10 tickets available so don’t miss out!

Out in Desford, Tropical Birdland have a Christmas Winter Wonderland where you can meet Santa and take a Fairy Walk to the wonderful Snow Queen. Then meet all their beautiful free-roaming birds and feed them for an unforgettable Christmas experience. Book your Tropical Winter experience here!


Turning on the lights

Loughborough will light up on Sunday 20 November with a day full of performances from local musicians and theatrical groups. The Sock Christmas Art and Crafts Fair will run from 11am and 5pm and offers handmade products from local makers alongside a food court, fairground rides and charity market.

The lights go on in Hinckley on Friday 18 November alongside the annual Tin Hat Fair. There will be market stalls along Castle Street and The Borough selling crafts and favourite festive treats and tipples. The shops will be open for late night shopping, too.

Also on the 18th is the Market Harborough Lights Switch On. With a food and drink festival from 10am, rock choir, and everyone's favourite panto dame, BBC Leicester's Martin Ballard, Harborough is set to be rocking as they light up for Christmas. 

Oadby lights up the parade on 19th November as the road is closed and stalls and rides take over as the town celebrates Christmas. And just down the road in Wigston, they’re switching on the lights on Saturday 26 November with market stalls, fairground rides and food!


Fairs and events

On Saturday 19 November join The Bosworth Battlefield Christmas Fair. They'll have your Christmas gift shopping sorted in no time with a range of artisan, boutique style homeware, gift, and handmade craft stalls. Find out more here.

The 1620s House is the perfect historic place to celebrate Christmas, and you can find out just what it was like to celebrate a Jacobean Yule. See how preparations were made to celebrate the full 12 days of Christmas by the Digby Family in the 1620s Manor House.

The 1620s House will also be showcasing the best of classical and historic music with two special concerts. On the 25 November Ayres and Graces will be performing songs, solos and poems on the themes of Winter and Christmas from the late 16th and early 17th Century and a couple of more modern ones too! Then on the 16 December join them for a festive treat as you sing your way around the ancient house by candlelight. Find out more here.

Hinckley is hosting a Festive Feast and Craft market on 11 December where you can enjoy a range of street food stalls, warm Glühwein and craft stalls whilst enjoying live Christmas music in front of the Town Centre Christmas Tree. Check out the details here.


Grottoes and Garden Centres

There are so many places to meet Santa around the county, so here’s a small selection of the best. Loughborough Town Hall’s Grotto has a load of Christmas activities including making reindeer food, writing and posting your letter to Santa and festive arts and crafts! Experience the amazing festive surroundings of Gates Garden Centre, which is an experience in itself with their decorated trees and Christmas model village. You'll definitely get some inspiration if you're looking to shake up your home Christmas displays. Plus they have a special festive experience where the little ones can have breakfast or lunch with Santa!

It’s always great to wander round a garden centre at Christmas and Palmers in Enderby always outdoes themselves with their displays, with this year’s including a mini decked with Christmas lights! Wistow’s Rural Centre is the perfect place to pick up a unique gift, whether you are a dog owner, into idiosyncratic garden scultures or are looking for some home decorations, their range of shops will have something for you. And if you need festive blooms, then the garden Centre is deal. Stop off at the on-site Mediterranean deli and farm shop when you leave for some spectacular snacks and home grown produce.

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