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Experience a Truly Magical Christmas in The National Forest

Wednesday, 21st October 2009

In the heart of The National Forest lies an enchanting woodland grotto within Conkers Winter Wonderland.  All good girls and boys will be invited to travel on the festive train and weave their way through the trees to reach the cosy century-old log cabin and receive a present from Santa.  His reindeers will be close at hand for children to meet.  Places are restricted with set time slots throughout the day, so booking is essential.  Dates to see Santa include the 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th November.  December dates are 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th and then every day from 19th until 23rd December.

Conkers will also be hosting Christmas Party Nights on 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th December, a panto on 12th December and a beautiful candlelit carol service on 21st December.  Rangers will be leading craft activities over the holiday period from 21st – 31st December (excluding 24th – 27th).  And don’t miss Conkers’ annual New Years Eve Extravaganza on 31st December.

Children can visit Santa at nearby Moira Furnace every Saturday s and Sundays from 5th to 20th December and Rosliston Forestry Centre is holding a Christmas Craft Fair on 5th December where you will find special gifts and unique Christmas presents.

Visitors to Calke Abbey on 28th and 29th November can help deck the Christmas Trees to celebrate national tree dressing weekend.  The Christmas Wonderland Outdoor Tree Trail, illuminated by lights and lanterns and weaving from this fascinating house up through the gardens to the church, will be open on 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th December.  There will also be a Christmas Fine Food Fair at Calke Abbey on 13th December offering a wide variety of local foods to taste, buy and take home for Christmas.

Christmas celebrations start in Coalville on 28th November with the Christmas Lights Switch On and Santa’s Express Train from Snibston into Coalville.  Visitors to Snibston on 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th December will also get to meet Santa. On 5th December Snibston is hosting a workshop on how to make holly wreaths.  And you can buy the freshest foliage to complete your Christmas decorations, at the Gardener’s Bothy, Staunton Harold on 19th and 20th December.

Sharpe’s Pottery Museum has a packed Christmas Programme.  Its annual Christmas Fayre is 27th – 28th November with stalls and crafts, as well as carols, songs and stories to entertain all the family.  It will be eyes down for the Christmas Bingo Night on 9th December and on 12th December Wild Orchid Theatre provides seasonal mirth with its Christmas Plays in the Kiln and visitors can also create wonderful floral displays at a Seasonal Flower Arranging Workshop.  Then 19th December will see a Christmas Puppet Workshop, a craft and story writing workshop for children and a lecture Brunch on the traditions and customs of a Tudor Christmas.

Swadlincote Ski Centre will be holding its Santa Special on 27th November to coincide with the town’s Christmas Lights Switch On.  There will be discounted tobogganing and Sno-tubing and the chance to see Santa ski! Great prizes are up for grabs at the Ski Centre Family Christmas Quiz Night on 17th December.  Back by popular demand are the festive Umpah evenings with toboggan rides, meal and live music from Karl’s Bavarian Brass on 5th, 11th, 12th and 19th December. And between 21st and 31st  December (except Christmas Day) the centre will run its Kids Fun Activity Days with ski/snowboard lessons combined with Cresta Run tobogganing and sno-tubing.

Create your own watercolour and transform it into Christmas cards with Forest Arts’ Watercolours Workshop on 7th November and join local musician Robert Newton for a seasonal singing workshop on 5th December. 

There will be a carol singing event at Grace Dieu Priory on 4th December.  Also on this evening is Galliarda Christmas Concert featuring live festive music from the Tudor and Stuart times at Donington le Heath Manor House.  Savour a sumptuous medieval banquet at Classics, Donington le Heath on 5th December and then find out how Christmas was celebrated at the manor house in the Middle Ages on 10th December.  You can experience Christmas in the 17th Century with a mummers play, Christmas customs, food and games on 12th and 13th December.  Or why not dine with Henry VIII and Queen Katharine Parr, at Classics at the Manor House on 19th December?

For those people scratching their heads for Christmas gifts, the Forest may hold the perfect solution.  Plant a Tree is a gift that grows.  The recipient receives an invitation to attend a special tree planting event, a choice of tiny tree to plant, as well as a personalised certificate commemorating the gift.  Or how about a gift voucher for one of the fantastic woodland craft and bushcraft courses in The National Forest?  Greenwood Days, Woodland Ways, Survival School and Woodland Survival Crafts all offer gift vouchers that make perfect presents.

Finally, where better to get your Christmas tree than The National Forest!  Real UK sourced Christmas trees are available from the Forestry Commission from 28th November – 23rd December at Rosliston Forestry Centre and 4th-6th, 11th-13th and 18th-20th December at Sence Valley Forest Park.  On 13th December this beautiful forest park will host a Christmas Farmers’ Market with specialist stalls selling local produce, along with Santa in his Grotto.

·         Conkers, Moira, 01283 216633, www.visitconkers.com

·         Moira Furnace Museum, 01283 224 667, www.moirafurnace.com

·         Rosliston Forestry Centre, 01283 563 483, www.roslistonforestrycentre.co.uk

·         Calke Abbey, Ticknall, 01332 863822, www.nationaltrust.org.uk

·         Snibston, Coalville, 01530 278 444, www.snibston.com

·         Gardener’s Bothy, Staunton Harold, 01332 694 500, www.thegardenersbothy.co.uk

·         Sharpe’s Pottery Museum, Swadlincote. 01283 222 600, www.sharpes.org.uk

·         Swadlincote Ski Centre, 01283 550 659, www.swadlincoteskislope.co.uk

·         Forest Arts, 01530 412132. www.forest-arts.org.uk

·         Grace Dieu Priory, 01530 223 201, www.gracedieupriory.co.uk

·         Donington le Heath Manor House, 01530 831 259

  • Woodland Ways, 07843 064 114, www.woodland-ways.co.uk
  • Survival School, 0871 222 7304, www.survivalschool.co.uk
  • Woodland Survival Skills, 01283 730 851, www.woodlandsurvivalcrafts.com
  • Greenwood Days, 01332 864 529, www.greenwooddays.co.uk

·         Forestry Commission, 01889 586 593