From canal trips with Santa to Europe’s biggest Christmas tree, Cheshire offers seasonal celebrations with a difference.
Solve a seasonal mystery
The chance to help solve a Christmas mystery is the mission for young audiences at Storyhouse, Chester’s new arts centre. The world theatrical debut of Enid Blyton’s “The Secret Seven” will see the intrepid gang follow the trail of strange clues as they endeavour to crack the case by Christmas.
Scream for festive ice cream
Ice cream isn’t just for summer in Cheshire, they scoop the stuff into cones right through the festive season at The Ice Cream Farm, near Tattenhall. “Christmas Pudding” and “Brandy Butter” are now on the menu in the huge parlour, made from milk produced in the lush pastures that surround this ice-cream-themed play park, where the elves are in charge this Christmas.
March with Roman centurions
Romans, lantern-bearers, fire-breathers and ghastly ghouls – they will all turn out in Chester for a double celebration of light on 14 December. The annual Saturnalia parade kicks off at 6pm, with soldiers from the Deva Victrix 20th Legion marching in full military dress through the city streets bearing torches, then the keys to the city are exchanged on the Winter Watch Parade at 8pm.
Hunt for gifts – and the past
Chester’s medieval and Tudor Rows – the world’s first shopping arcade – is the place to find presents from high-street names and local independents. Plus, on Thursdays until 21 December, non-shoppers can unearth the historic remains of these double-decker retail outlets, such as a Roman hypocaust, on a new tour led by the city guides, titled Rows Revealed.
Go wild for Yuletide
Even the animals at Chester Zoo are getting in the Christmas spirit. At dusk each evening until 30 December the zoo will transform into Santa’s sorting office in The Lanterns at Chester Zoo by local performing arts troupe Wild Rumpus – an extraordinary lantern-lit world filled with music and dance, and animal-inspired fairy-tale scenes.
See a record-breaking Christmas tree
It’s a whopper. At 90ft high, with 100,000 baubles and thousands of twinkling lights, the Christmas tree at Cheshire Oaks, the designer discount outlet, is the largest of its kind in Europe – an artificial giant fir that you can even walk inside. Plus, Santa will be camping out in his grotto for the festive season beneath its branches.
Cruise the canals with Santa
Santa will be taking to the canals at not one but two places in Cheshire this Christmas; in the shadow of the Anderton Boat Lift, near Northwich, and the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port. He’ll be on board telling stories, singing seasonal songs, listening to Christmas wishes and, of course, giving out treats to an audience of eager children on weekends throughout December.
For more information about Christmas in Chester and Cheshire, go to www.christmasinchester.com.