Festive Season 2019

Drop-In Activities

There are all sorts of festive activities below that don’t need to be booked in advance (including where to meet Santa🎅), plus a lot of the Christmas Markets don’t require booking – and many of them have a reasonably priced (or free!) Santa’s Grotto.

If you run a relevant festive event that’s not listed yet (or if you’re a parent with a recommendation) please feel free to get in touch with details.

Basic listings are free, information on upgraded listings (with up to 200 words, social media links & photos) can be found here.

Arctic Experience & Santa’s Grotto (intu Metrocentre)

Tues 5th Nov – Tues 24 Dec

St Michaels Way, Gateshead, NE11 9YG
(Town Square outside House of Fraser)
Tel: 0191 493 0200

Arctic Experience with ice rink, ball pool and indoor snow fall. Visit Santa Claus in his brand new igloo grotto from 5th Nov to 24th Dec, with a gift for each child.

Ice Rink: £2
Grotto: £1 Walk-up visits / £1.50 Advance booking.
Grotto profits going to The Percy Hedley Foundation.

Baby Print Christmas Baubles (Watergate Cafe)

Sun 10th Nov, 10.30am – 2.30pm

Watergate Forest Park, Gateshead, NE11 0AN

Rainbow Pottery Painting will be joining us to capture your baby’s hand and footprints and create beautiful bespoke christmas keepsakes and gifts for the family. Items made will be taken away for finishing off and returned to the cafe for collection approximately 2-3 weeks later.

Drop in. Prices start at £5.

Beebots Christmas Delivery (Leam Lane Library)

Sat 14th Dec 2019, 10.30 – 11.30am

129 Cotemede, Leam Lane Estate, NE10 8QH
Tel: 0191 433 6428

Help the beebots deliver presents!


Breakfast with Mrs Claus (Seven Stories)

Every Tues-Fri from 3rd-20th Dec, 9.30 – 11.00am

Enjoy breakfast with Mrs Claus in her cosy Christmas kitchen. The cafe will be open for breakfast with festive themed games, crafts and activities, including biscuit decorating. Breakfast includes toast, a glass of milk, fruit juice or hot chocolate and a small bowl of mixed fruit.

Drop-in, no booking required.
Child’d breakfast: £3.25
The last food orders 10.30am.

Card Making & Christmas Crafting (Thought Foundation)

Sat 30th Nov, 12 – 3pm

Clarity House, Durham Road, Birtley DH3 2TB
Tel: 0191 691 0203

We have heaps of card, colourful stamps, scissors, glue & all the materials you will need to make unique Christmas cards this festive season… you just need to bring your creativity.

£3 per family, drop in.

Cards of Kindness Craft Activity (Thought Foundation)

Sat 14th Dec, 12 – 3pm

Clarity House, Durham Road, Birtley DH3 2TB
Tel: 0191 691 0203

We all know how important it is to make someone feel special and a thoughtful letter would be lovely to receive over the festive season. We will provide paper, colourful card, fancy stamps and all the material you will need to write a kind letter to a friend.

£3 per family, drop in.

Choir Christmas Performance (The Nest)

Sun 15th Dec, 6 – 7pm

417-419 Durham Rd, Low Fell, NE9 5AN
Tel: 07949 039 270

Join Low Fell Community Choir for their seasonal sing along and a few special performances from the choir themselves. Refreshments will be available to purchase. Hosted by Low Fell Community Choir and Side By Side Arts.

Christingle Crafts and Cakes (Central Library)

Thurs 5th Dec 2019, 2 – 3.30pm

Central Library, Prince Consort Rd, NE8 4LN
Tel: 0191 433 8420

Join the Friends of Central Library for songs, crafts and refreshments. Make your own Christingle orange.

Free, drop in.

Christmas at Beamish

Sat 16th Nov – Tues 24th Dec
Daily 10am – 4pm

Beamish, Stanley, County Durham, DH9 0YB
Tel: 01207 233733

Winter Fun Fair including ice rink, fairground with rides and sideshows, outdoor bazaar with quirky gifts and local festive food. Father Christmas’ Grotto and reindeer, with a small, traditional gift.

Standard entry fee applies.
(or Unlimited Pass / Friends of Beamish membership).
Extra charges for activities: 50p – £5.
Santa’s Grotto: £6 per child purchased at entrance (first come, first served).


Christmas Eve Cinema (Winlaton Mill Village Hall)

Tues 24th Dec, 10 – 11.30am

Winlaton Mill, Blaydon, NE21 6SF
Tel: 07925 851 011

Children’s cinema morning.

£2 per family.

Christmas Festival (Durham)

Fri 29th Nov – Sun 1st Dec

Award-winning Traditional Christmas Festival, with a craft & gift marquee and a wide range of festive entertainment for all the family in and around the Cathedral and Castle and throughout the City Centre. Reserve your lanterns today for children to take part in the annual Lantern Procession.

£6 per lantern.

Christmas Light Switch On (Newcastle)

Thurs 7th Nov, 5.30 – 6.30pm

Newcastle City Centre

Hosted by award winning musician Sam Fender, Newcastle City Council and Metro Radio, with a special performance from Sam’s saxophonist and entertainment from Moodbay and Khalysis. Plus a panto performance from the cast of Aladdin at the Tyne Theatre.

Christmas Lights Switch On (Low Fell)

Wed 27th Nov, 3.45pm 

580 Durham Road, Low Fell, Gateshead, NE9 6HX (Outside Rosa Twelve)

Hosted by Alfie Joey (Radio Newcastle), with musical accompaniment from Craghead Colliery Band and singing from Oakfield School, St. Peter’s RC Primary School and Bluebell Theatre. Refreshments will be provided by Rosa Twelve restaurant and Kip McGrath will be handing out children’s goodie bags.

Christmas Lights Switch On (Trinity Square)

Thurs 21st Nov, 4 – 6.30pm

Trinity Square, Ellison Walk, Gateshead, NE8 1AG

Join Santa and his special guests for free family fun and live entertainment, hosted by Michelle Willis and Glen Townsend, featuring Trinity’s Got Talent winner Katie Lei. All proceeds to Tiny Lives.



Christmas Rhymetime (Birtley Library)

Sat 23rd Nov 2019, 10am – 12pm

Durham Road North, Chester Le Street, County Durham, DH3 1LE
Tel: 0191 433 6101

Get Your Christmas On Again: Rhymetime Plus! Festive rhymes and songs, plus special guest, ride on train and soft play.

£1, drop-in. Under 5 years.

Christmas Town – Draw on the Floor (Thought Foundation)

Mon 23rd Dec, 12 – 3pm

Clarity House, Durham Road, Birtley DH3 2TB
Tel: 0191 691 0203

Join us to make the worlds biggest festive scene on the gallery floor at Thought Foundation. We have huge paper, colourful crayons and the beginnings of a Christmas town scene for you and your family to colour and complete. All Welcome.

£2 per family, drop in.

Christmas Train (Puffing Billy)

Selected dates Sun 8th Dec – Thurs 19th Dec

Tel: 0191 520 8880

Puffing Billy is a 2-carriage road train decked out in Christmas lights taking Father Christmas, Mrs Claus and elves on a tour around Sunderland and Durham to meet and greet children. You can track Billy’s progress with a free app. Puffing Billy festive books are also available (£3 or 2 for £5). 50p from each book sold go to the children’s heart unit Ward 23 at the Freeman Hospital.

Christmas Tree Switch On (Birtley)

Thurs 21st Nov, 4.15pm

Durham Road North, Chester Le Street, County Durham, DH3 1LE (near War Memorial)

Birtley Christmas tree lights will be switched on, with Christmas songs. Followed by a free family disco in Birtley Catholic Club from 5pm, with fun and games with Sam Naylor. Everyone welcome.

Elf Christmas Film Night (Stargate & Crookhill Community Centre)

Thurs 19th Dec, 5 – 8pm

Stargate Lane, Crookhill, Ryton, NE40 3DX
Tel: 07505 275 837

Christmas Movie night with a film starting at 5pm, popcorn and hot chocolate will be available.

£3 per child.

Elf & Creative Crafting (Thought Foundation)

Sun 22nd Dec, 12 – 3pm

Clarity House, Durham Road, Birtley DH3 2TB
Tel: 0191 691 0203

A screening of the magical movie ELF with a jammed packed day of creative activities. Why not wear your festive jumper, search for the hidden elf’s, make snow flakes, colour in and treat yo self with some festival homemade food.

£1 each, drop in.

Fenwick Christmas Window (Newcastle)

Sat 2nd Nov – Tues 31st Dec

39 Northumberland Street, Newcastle, NE99 1AR
Tel: 0191 232 5100

Christmas themed window with moving characters, bespoke soundtrack and twinkling lights. The unveiling of the window becomes a bigger and more magical affair each year, usually taking place in early November. Visit Fenwick department store’s dedicated festive floor, with the very best in gifts, decorations and stocking fillers.


Film Screening & Chocolate Snowman Making (Thought Foundation)

Sat 7th Dec, 12 – 3pm

Clarity House, Durham Road, Birtley DH3 2TB
Tel: 0191 691 0203

Watch the lush pair of Raymond Briggs’ festive films The Snowman followed by Father Christmas on our big screen. We will also be making festive snowman chocolate bars to get us in a creative Christmas spirit.

£3 per bar, drop in.

Film Screening: ‘Its a Wonderful Life’ (Thought Foundation)

Tues 24th Dec, 12 – 3pm

Clarity House, Durham Road, Birtley DH3 2TB
Tel: 0191 691 0203

Join us this Christmas Eve to watch everyone’s favourite classic heartwarming movie, Its a Wonderful Life. No need to book just turn up, get yourself a festive tipple and relax!

Film Screening: The Grinch & Pom Pom Making (Thought Foundation)

Sun 15th Dec, 12 – 3pm

Clarity House, Durham Road, Birtley DH3 2TB
Tel: 0191 691 0203

A festive afternoon of creating your own Christmas pom pom decoration for your tree at home! Then snuggle up in our gallery to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas on the big screen.

£3 per family, drop in.


Frost Fest (Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre)

Sat 30th Nov – Sun 1st Dec, 10am – 4pm
Christmas lights switch on: Sun 1st Dec, 4pm

Spa Well Road, Winlaton Mill, Blaydon, Gateshead, NE21 6RU

Festive crafts including wood printing, cookie decorating, willow stars and reindeers and Japanese origami mobiles. Also bird walk, tasting events, music and more. Christmas tree lights switch on with Lantern Parade, violinist and singing by Winlaton Mill Village Choir.

Some activities have a charge, a few require online booking.

Meet Santa (Redfox Gardenworld)

Selected dates Sat 16th Nov – Tues 24th Dec
**fully booked 4th Dec & 24th Dec**

Newcastle Road, South Tyneside, NE10 8YS
Tel: 0191 4380821

A magical (virtual) train journey to join Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan and a magical wardrobe! Creep through the wardrobe to discover a host of characters in the wintery wonderland, meet Father Christmas and receive an early Christmas present.

Drop in or book online.
£12.99 per child with 1 adult.
£4.99 each additional adult.

Mince Pie Specials (Tanfield Railway)

Thurs 26th Dec & Sun 29th Dec, 10.30am – 3.30pm

Old Marley Hill, Gateshead, NE16 5ET|
Tel: 07508 092 365

Take a steam train journey along the World’s oldest railway, with a complimentary mince pie. Tickets give unlimited all day travel, with the option of stopping at Causey station for a walk around the wooded Causey valley, or Marley Hill with Europe’s oldest working engine shed.

No pre-booking required.
Adult: £10.50
Child: £6.50
Family (2 & 2): £27.50


New Year’s Eve Extravagnza (Newcastle Civic Centre)

Tues 31st Dec, 5pm – 12am

Barras Bridge, Newcastle, NE99 1RD
Tel: 0191 277 7222

The event will start from 5pm with entertainment from Metro Radio then a fireworks display at 6pm (hosted by Metro Radio and sponsored by JD Sports). There will also be a midnight fireworks display at the quayside.

Free, no booking required.

Rock Choir North East (BALTIC)

Sat 16th Nov

Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA
Tel: 0191 478 1810

Rock Choir North East will be performing some favourite festive classics with a modern twist in the main entrance. Plus enjoy the opening of the new exhibition Animalesque, and take advantage of Christmas Discount Weekend in the BALTIC Shop with 15% OFF when you spend £40.


Santa Express (Exhibition Park)

Sun 1st Dec, 11am – 3pm

Exhibition Park, Newcastle, NE2 4PZ (behind Wylam Brewery)

Ride a model stream train to Santa’s secret workshop to meet with Santa and tell him what you would like on Christmas day. Hosted by the Tyneside Society of Model & Experimental Engineers (TSMEE).

Donations welcome. No booking required.


Santa Saturdays (Crawcrook Library)

Saturday 10.30 – 11.30am
23rd & 30th Nov, 7th Dec 2019

Main Street, Crawcrook, Ryton, NE40 4NB
Tel: 0191 413 8164

Christmas Crafts for the family to create.

£2 per child, drop in.

Santa’s Grotto (Eldon Garden)

Selected dates Thurs 21st Nov – Tues 24th Dec

Unit 20, Eldon Garden Shopping Centre, Percy Street, Newcastle, NE1 7RA
Tel: 07538 513 422

Meet Santa in his Grotto for a chat, receive a gift and pose for a photograph. Digital photo sent via email within 2 weeks of visit, or opt for a framed 10×8 print, ready for collection after Christmas.

Drop in available, or book online on Eventbrite.
£10 per child (digital photo)
£12.50 per child (framed print)

Santa’s Grotto (Whitehouse Farm Centre)

Term time weekdays from 25th Nov

North Whitehouse Farm, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 6AW
Tel: 01670 789 998

Family run farm with a range of animals and petting/feeding sessions. Santa is in his Grotto from 10am–2.30pm, book on arrival (subject to availability). Plus plenty of indoor and outdoor activities, including soft play and adventure playground.

Adults: £9.86
2 – 16 years: £8.87
Under 2 years: Free
Small additional charge applies for Santa’s Grotto.

Silver Jewellery Prints (Watergate Cafe)

Tues 19th Nov, 10.30am – 2.30pm

Watergate Forest Park, Gateshead, NE11 0AN

Sophie from Humblecreations will be taking finger, hand, foot or paw prints to create silver charms, making a great special gift. Charms can be attached to necklaces, bangles, bracelets or charm carriers for a pandora style bracelet.

Drop in. £50 for a single print, £70 for a double.
Payment in full on the day.

The Lambton Worm Panto (Beamish Museum)

Fri 27th Dec – Sun 5th Jan (exc 1st Jan)

Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG
Tel: 0191 370 4000

Watch John Lambton in his quest to defeat the worm in an adaptation of the local legend. Performances will take place in the 1950s welfare hall at 10.30am, 12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm, lasting for approximately half an hour.

Included with regular paid admission.

The Metrognomes & the Magic Lamp Panto (intu Metrocentre)

Fri 27th Dec – Fri 3rd Jan (exc 1st Jan)
Multiple 30 min showings between 11am – 6.30pm, depending on day.
Check with organiser for full details.

Exhibition Square, intu Metrocentre, St Michael’s Way, Gateshead, NE11 9YG
Tel: 0191 493 0200

Free family panto, the tale of Aladdin with Metrognomes Herbert, Sherbet, Maggot and Rusty. The Metrognomes help Aladdin fulfil his destiny to become a prince and marry the princess, overcoming the evil and cunning Abanazar along the way.