Cheshire days out for Christmas 2020

PUBLISHED: 09:54 25 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:24 25 November 2020

The Groves, Chester

The Groves, Chester

Archant

Things to do in Cheshire this Christmas

Actress Natalie Grady plays Ebenezer Scrooge at Storyhouse, ChesterActress Natalie Grady plays Ebenezer Scrooge at Storyhouse, Chester

There’s plenty to see and do in Cheshire this Christmas

Wrap up warm, grab your camera, mask, cinnamon-scented hand sanitiser and a smile, and let’s make some memories of Christmas 2020.

For literature buffs

A Christmas Carol

Chester Zoo lanternsChester Zoo lanterns

Christmas isn’t cancelled, although it looked briefly as if it might be when the country locked down again. But plucky as Tiny Tim, the Storyhouse team decided its festive show, A Christmas Carol, must go on, so the start date was moved back to December 3. The Chester multi-arts venue is still planning to be the first major theatre in the region to stage a full-size Christmas show in 2020. Andrew Bentley, Storyhouse’s CEO, says: “Lockdown 2 is not going to stop us running A Christmas Carol. It’s a completely brilliant show. Our customers are desperate, as is our whole city, to get a little joy, a little slice of normal, at this time. Christmas is the time we cherish the most and we are here for our community. Our customers can book for Christmas with confidence, we can’t wait to welcome them back into the theatre.”

Don’t miss: Nine young Cheshire actors from Storyhouse’s youth theatre will be making their stage debuts sharing the roles of Tiny Tim, Mary Cratchit and the Ghost of Christmas Past.

A Christmas Carol runs from December 2 to January 17 at Storyhouse, Chester, storyhouse.com

The Weston Christmas lights 
Photo: Peter David RobinsonThe Weston Christmas lights Photo: Peter David Robinson

For nature lovers

Holly the Hare at Tatton Park

Tatton is deliciously cosy this Christmas, with a festive feel-good family trail featuring Holly the Hare and her woodland friends. Youngsters can follow the path and help Holly solve the puzzles to find her friends at their Christmas party. Pick up party packs, complete with animal masks and sweet treats, and set off on the trail down beautifully maintained woodland paths and forest floors. Look out for Pat the jolly gardener by the fire roasting chestnuts and snap selfies with Holly and her friends to add a bit of extra magic this winter.

Don’t miss: Gallery in the Gardens has been extended, showcasing the beautiful work of Cheshire artist Nicky Thompson, and his collaboration with Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership celebrating Cheshire’s Wonderful Wildlife.

Tatton Park's woodland animals festive feastTatton Park's woodland animals festive feast

Holly’s Festive Feast takes place in the gardens from November 28 to January 3. Usual charges apply with packs at £2 per child. Pre-booking is essential at tattonpark.org.uk

For traditionalists

The Christmas Tree Festival

Simon and Paula Brown's wreath-makingSimon and Paula Brown's wreath-making

Like a lovely warm hug, this festive favourite will be bringing a seasonal glow for its eighth year. It has been a hard year for many regular churchgoers, and this Christmas Chester Cathedral aims to bring light and hope to the lives of all those who visit. The festival has been adapted sympathetically to make sure everyone is safe, but it retains all its original charm, with twinkling trees placed carefully throughout the building. Each tree is decorated with love by Cheshire schools, charities and businesses. The festival will be accompanied by traditional Christmas services, carol concerts and organ recitals, so after a walk through the city bring your family bubble and get ready to join in with your favourite carols.

Don’t miss: Two beautiful art installations by sculptor Peter Walker, also in the cathedral this December.

chestercathedral.com/about/christmas-tree-festival

For a wonderful cause

Weston Christmas Light Display

Like a beacon twinkling in the darkness, Graham Witter has lovingly created an animated spectacle at his family farm as a tribute for his beautiful, much-missed sister, Jessica, who had a fascination with colour, light, and sound. Despite the restrictions this year, Graham, 25, has spent the year painstakingly making a display with thousands of lights and decorations. It’s a memory garden and also a fundraiser, for The Donna Louise Hospice, which provided many hours of care and support to Jessica.

Over the past seven years Graham has raised more than £124,850 for the charity, and is determined to make the 2020 drive-thru the most sparkling yet.

Don’t miss: The new #NameAStar display includes 150 hand-made metal stars surrounding the Starlit Christmas tree, each remembering a loved one or celebrating a local hero this Christmas.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from December 1 to 28, 6.15pm to 9pm, Carters Green Farm, Jack Lane, Weston, Cheshire, facebook.com/westonlightdisplay

For family fun

Lanterns at Chester Zoo

The annual winter trail has become as much of a must-see attraction in the evenings as the zoo is during the daytime. Thankfully, while the zoo has closed its gates for November, the evening events are aiming to go ahead this Christmas, and tickets have been rescheduled to December. In its ninth year, this nighttime winter wonderland will be brightened by illuminated animal sculptures, colourful lanterns and interactive costumed characters.

Jon Turley, head of guest experience at Chester Zoo, explains: “Events that help us to bring some additional income into our charity will be absolutely crucial in securing the future of our zoo and our species-saving work. That’s why we’re so, so excited to be able to bring the lanterns back again this year.

“With safety and social distancing firmly at the forefront of our minds, far fewer tickets have been made available for our event this time around, which might just make it an even more magical experience for those who secure a ticket.”

Don’t miss: Underwater World returns for 2020, taking visitors to the bottom of the sea, where they’ll discover a giant show-stopping octopus.

For full information and to book tickets, visit: chesterzoo.org/lanterns

For food and drink lovers

Festive afternoon tea picnic

Wrap up warm and see Wirral’s coats at its most beautiful, with food and drink to enjoy at a vista of your choice. Hillbark Hotel & Spa is well-known for its festive afternoon teas, but this year it’s offering a takeaway picnic package, with seasonal sandwiches, hand-made pastries, light, warm scones, homemade jam, clotted cream and a glass of spiced mulled wine, to be enjoyed in its beautiful surroundings or further afield in the tranquil beauty of Royden Park.

If you’re feeling active, there’s a spectacular walk, taking in breathtaking views across the Dee Estuary to North Wales, and then running across the clifftops overlooking Thurstaston beach, so you can either pack up your picnic and take it with you, or enjoy your walk then head back to Hillbark to pick up your afternoon tea in a box and enjoy it at home with a well-deserved rest.

Don’t miss: Thor’s Stone on Thurstaston Common, a landmark steeped in Victorian and Viking legend, said to be the place of ritual and worship in Viking times.

Book 24 hours ahead, on 0151 6252400 or hillbarkhotel.co.uk

For crafty types

Virtual wreath making

Deck the halls with beautiful, sustainably-foraged foliage with Berry Merry wreath-making classes, run by Wirral husband and wife team Simon and Paula Brown.

Paula usually runs wreath-making workshops in venues across Wirral and Cheshire each Christmas, and Simon owns garden design business, Earth & Turf. This year they’ve taken their workshops online.

“It’s a perfect combination,” Paula explains. “I love anything to do with floristry and design and Simon spends most of his time outdoors so comes home with gorgeous foraged foliage most days. I’ve made wreaths for many years and usually host lots of classes in the run-up to Christmas, which obviously won’t be the case this year. We usually have so much fun at our wreath-making classes – I always ask the students to wear something festive and of course, there is usually plenty of fizz, so I’m really hoping we can create the same atmosphere in our homes, albeit virtually.”

The virtual classes include a wreath kit with top-quality spruce, eucalyptus, holly, ivy, a bow, wire, and all the usual finishing touches delivered to your door, plus two hours of online group tuition.

Don’t miss: If you’d rather have one ready-made, fresh wreaths are available to order too, with national delivery.

Classes run on selected dates and private sessions for groups of friends or alternative office parties are available by request. facebook.com/Earth-Turf-Gardening-Services-111894906995521

For stately grandeur

Christmas at Dunham Massey

This spectacular National Trust house, built in the early 17th century by the Earls of Warrington, and then home to the Earls of Stamford, looks impressive at any time of year. But it’s at its most beautiful bathed in coloured lights. Plans for this year Dunham’s festive celebration have been revised slightly to give people a chance to space out more, but the old favourites will all be there, with colour-changing lakeside reflections, trees festooned with shards of light, snowflake kaleidoscopes and a crystal and fire garden, with hundreds of flickering flames.

Don’t miss: The giant glittering stags and does, a celebration of Dunham Massey’s herd of fallow deer, which has been part of the estate since the park walls were built in 1748.

Until December 30, nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey

NB: Events may be subject to change, and will abide by lockdown rules and tier systems, so please check before you travel and stick within your household or support bubble.

My perfect Cheshire Christmas

Andrew Lancel

Few cities do Christmas as well as Chester. I love visiting, staying and performing in Chester. It’s got a romance and a history to it which you can feel on the streets and in its architecture. A visit to the cathedral is always magical – so many great memories and romantic nights.

The Storyhouse has very quickly become a favourite venue and place to chill. That’s a good description for Chester – a place to chill out and take it all in, particularly at Christmas.

Actor Andrew is partway through a tour of Swan Song by Jonathan Harvey.

Dr Martin Kinsella

I love Christmas and we had many family traditions when I was growing up. One of them was brisk winter walks before comfort food. Our favourite Christmassy day out now is a festive walk around Dunham Massey then a quick drive back into Hale Village, which is so pretty at Christmas.

Hanna will be almost seven months pregnant at Christmas and may not be able to walk too far, so we are lucky to have many quality eateries on our doorstep in Hale, Altrincham and Bowden. We’ll cram in the carbs at Cibo Restaurant or go to Juniper, my regular day-to-day eaterie when I’m at my aesthetics clinic in Hale, followed by a cosy drink at my local, the Stamford Arms in Bowden.

Cosmetic doctor and dentist Martin is the husband of Real Housewife Of Cheshire’s Hanna Kinsella (and soon to be a first-time-dad).

Bruce Grobbelaar

I usually love spending the build-up to Christmas going to festive markets, visiting garden centres and going for walks along the Wirral coast. This year I think will be very different for us all, as I’ll miss sharing it with my family as they are all away and in lockdown during this global pandemic. I’ll still try to carry on our family traditions of things I would have done with my daughters if they were here with me, like eating lots of Cheshire cheese, watching Christmas films, visiting Chester Zoo and eating chilli on Christmas Eve. I’m also in panto, but my days off will be spent going on winter walks in Delamere Forest, where I usually get my tree.

Former pro footballer Bruce is playing the Genie in Aladdin at Otterspool Adventure in Liverpool.

Natalie Grady

Christmas in Knutsford is always so pretty, and I love the winter trail at Dunham Massey. If you haven’t been, it’s a must. Chester is just beautiful at Christmas time, too; a festive afternoon tea in Chester is delightful.

I currently live on the border of Cheshire and Greater Manchester, but having worked in Chester many times and visited many places in Cheshire, I’ve decided to move to Northwich. I’ll be moving just before Christmas and cannot wait. I may not manage to fit in many activities this Christmas as I’ll be on stage at Storyhouse performing A Christmas Carol for most of the festive season.

Actor Natalie is currently appearing as Scrooge at Storyhouse, Chester

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