Christmas activities in the North East, that don’t need to be pre-booked!
You can enjoy some fantastic socially distanced Christmas trails and activities in & around Gateshead with no booking required. There are some great options below that are free (or just a few pounds), to help get the whole family in the festive spirit without breaking the bank.
Details are subject to change, please check for the latest updates using the links below.Always follow the latest Government guidelines on social distancing and protective measures. Check the latest Government guidelines and updates here. Parking charges may apply. If somewhere appears busy, consider visiting at a different time.
Allensford Park Christmas Elf Trail 📌 Pemberton Rd, Allensford, Consett, Co Durham, DH8 9BA 📆 Sat 19th – Tues 22nd Dec 2020 🎅 See if you can spot Santa’s elves around the park and complete the trail sheet with the elves names. Children will receive a kid’s hot chocolate for taking part. All entries will be entered into a prize draw for a Christmas Eve treat box. 👉 £1 per trail sheet, available from Allensford Cafe
The Auckland Project Reindeer Trail 📆 7th-16th Dec 2020 📌 Auckland Castle Deer House and Park, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, DL14 7QJ 🎅 A woodland trail with a special mission to find nine escaped reindeer. The mini reindeer made from tree-trunks are spread around the deer park along a 0.9 kilometre trail. If you spot Rudolph you could win a reindeer to take home by emailing here (closing date 13th Dec). 👉 Download free map.
Blaydon & Winlaton Mobile Santa & Elves 📆 24th Dec 2020 📌 Blaydon & Winlaton, details of route here(look out for updates here). 🎅 True Colours Theatre have arranged a mobile Santa and singing Elves, with the support of Winter Wonderland Gateshead, Dreams on Moonbeams and Sam Montague taxis. Santa and his singing elves will be visiting streets across Blaydon-Winlaton from 10am-5.45pm, finishing with a Christmas Jingle and carol singing. 👉 Free, donations welcome here to support the work of True Colours Theatre with children with various needs.
Chopwell Fire Brigade Santa Fund 📌 Chopwell and surrounding areas, Gateshead 📆 Sat 19th Dec 🎅 Santa will be in Chopwell’s fire engine giving passersby a wave, starting at 2pm at Hamsterley then Blackhall Mill, Chopwell and High Spen. 👉Free, donations welcome here.
Dunston – Santa at the Crescent 📌 The Crescent, Dunston, Gateshead, NE1 19SJ 📆 Sat 19th Dec 🎅 Santa will be at the Crescent outside the pharmacy from 1-3pm with a free gift for all, and a free mice pie for grown ups courtesy of J&M Butties. Donations and food items welcome on the day in aid of Gateshead Food Bank and St Nic’s and Knacks. 👉 No booking required, social distancing must be adhered to when queueing etc.
Durham Wildlife Trust Woodland Reindeer Trail 📆 Fri 11th Dec – Wed 23rd Dec 2020 📌 Low Barns Nature Reserve, Witton-le-Wear, DL14 0AG 📌 Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve, Houghton-le Spring, DH4 6PU 🎅 Follow the clues and map to complete a fun festive quiz. Festive hats optional but encouraged – share your snaps on social media using #durhamwildlife. Coffee shops open for a hot drink and cake before or after your trail. 👉 £2 per quiz, available from visitor centres daily 10am-3pm.
Fenwick’s Window 📆 Sun 8th Nov 2020 – Jan 2021 📌 39 Northumberland St, Newcastle, NE1 7AS 🎅 A Wind in the Willows themed window display, revealed virtually to hundreds of thousands of viewers across the world via a festive Facebook Live. From carol-singing to Toad Hall’s fireside, watch online here and find out more about visiting safely in person here. 👉 Free.
Garden Centre Displays 🎅 Many garden centres have gorgeous displays of Christmas lights, decorations, gifts, wreaths and trees, that make visiting to pick up Christmas or gardening supplies a special treat. Here are a few North East centres that are frequently recommended:
Gateshead Christmas Trail 📌 Gateshead & surrounding areas 🎅 We all need a bit of extra Christmas cheer this year, and it’s clear to see across Gateshead that people are rising to the challenge and turning their gardens and windows into sparkly winter wonderlands! See how many you can spot in your neighbourhood with the help of our handy map, including special ‘star houses’ not to be missed! Make an extra game of it with our printable Christmas scavenger hunts. 👉 Free. Donations welcome for a few ‘star houses’ raising funds for various good causes. Join the Gateshead Christmas Trail group for more info.
Go North East Santa Bus 📌 Across the North East 📆 Mon 14th – Wed 23rd Dec 🎅 The open-top non-stopping Santa bus will be on-tour every evening 4-7pm visiting different places around the North East, decked out with decorations, Christmas lights and of course, Santa giving passersby a wave. 👉 Schedule here, with further details released every morning here.
Hamsterley Forest Christmas Trail 📌 Hamsterley Forest, County Durham, DL13 3NL 📆 Sat 19th – Sun 20th Dec 2020 🎅 Self led trail aimed at young families. Find the wooden hearts and Santa hats hidden along the 1km Viking Trail from 10am-4pm. 👉 Free activity sheets available from info point from 10am.
Hardwick Park 12 Days of Christmas Trail 📌 Hardwick Park, Sedgefield, Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, TS21 2DN 📆 Sat 12th Dec 2020 – Sun 3rd Jan 2021 🎅 Find all the items from the classic 12 Days of Christmas song hidden around the park and complete challenges along the way. 👉 £1 per trail sheet from Tower Café or Gift Shop during opening hours.
Leam Lane Jingle Bell Trail 📆 Thurs 24th Dec 2020 📌 Oliver Henderson Park, Leam Lane, Gateshead, NE10 8XL 🎅 Local residents bring along your bells on Christmas Eve for Christmas activities and a socially distanced jingle at 6pm. 👉 Free, more information here.
Land of Oak and Iron Elf Trail 📌 Spa Well Road, Winlaton Mill, Blaydon, Gateshead, NE21 6RU 📆 From 5th Dec 2020, throughout Dec 🎅 Spot the naughty elves getting up to mischief in the Heritage Centre. All the elves can be seen from outside the centre, and are dressed up with little accessories from the Gibside Sewing Group. Return completed trail sheets to café shrub for a prize sheet to make an elf finger puppet at home, and enter a competition for the best elf. 👉 Suggested donation £3 per child. Collect a trail sheet from outside café shrub (bring a pen/pencil with you).
North Tyneside The Snowman and the Snowdog Trail 📆 14th Nov 2020 – 31st Jan 2021 📌 Wallsend, North Shields, Killingworth, Tynemouth & Whitley Bay. 🎅 A festive sculpture trail with twelve beautifully painted Snowmen to discover, inspired by the classic song The Twelve Days of Christmas and eight Snowdogs. 👉 Download the trail map here.
Souter Lighthouse Christmas Footprints trail 📌 Coast Road, South Shields, South Tyneside, SR6 7NH 📆 10th Dec 2020 – 4th Jan 2021 🎅 Follow clues around the coastal park to guess who’s left their footprints along the way. There’s a poster with all the clues at the front of the lighthouse, just take a snap on your phone and you’re off! Cafe open 10am-4pm daily for festive treats (exc 21-27th Dec). 👉 Free.
Sunderland Illuminations 📆 Fri 9th Oct 2020 – Sun 3rd Jan 2021 📌 Roker Terrace and Whitburn Road, Sunderland 🎅 Annual tradition of Christmas lights display along Roker and Seaburn seafront. 👉 Free.
Sunderland BID Christmas Trail 📆 19th Nov 2020 – Mon 3rd Jan 2021 📌 Sunderland City Centre 🎅 Virtual Christmas characters and some sparkly street decorations across Sunderland city centre. Use the app to guide you to various locations to find the 7 AR characters and 6 special decorations, including elves, reindeer, gingerbreads and more! 👉 Free app, search for ‘Sunderland Experience’ on your device’s app store.
Ushaw Gardens Winter Trail 📌 Woodland Rd, Durham, DH7 9RH 📆 From 4th Dec 🎅 A festive trail around the grounds of Ushaw Historic House and Chapel, including a bauble bonanza, snowman gathering, north pole and more. Open daily 11am-3pm, wellies recommended. 👉 Free trail (£3 for all day parking, free with proof of a DH7 7/DH7 9 postcode). **the Winter Trail is a separate activity to the Illuminating Ushaw Trail, which is ticketed.
Wharton Park Pantomime Trail 📌 Wharton Park, Durham City, DH1 4FJ 📆 Sat 12th Dec 2020 – Sun 3rd Jan 2021 🎅 A panto-themed activity trail in the park grounds. 👉 £1 per trail sheet. Available from the cafe during opening hours, or from 14th—18th Dec email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any recommendations to add to the list, please do get in touch here🙂