Family friendly events happening around the North East this Christmas Eve

People around the world mark Christmas Eve in unique ways or celebrate different traditions.

In Iceland, there’s a tradition harking back to WWII called Jolabokaflod, where families typically gift one-another books on Christmas Eve, so that members can curl up and enjoy a cosy night reading.

German families have their own Christmas Eve tradition, where it’s custom for people to enjoy potato salad and sausages.

Go here for the very latest parenting updates from across the North East

Of course in the UK, children leave out milk (or sometimes whisky) and a mince pie for Santa, and a carrot for his reindeer Rudolf, and often enjoy speciality Christmas Eve TV.

But if spending a afternoon in front of the telly doesn’t sound appealing to you, there’s plenty of family-friendly events happening around the North East this Christmas Eve to get you feeling festive ahead of the big day.

Remember that some events require people to pre-book or register and comply with Covid safety rules so be sure to check booking requirements to avoid disappointment.

South Shields

Christmas Eve with Santa at The Sea Hotel

He might have a busy night ahead of him, but that doesn’t stop Santa from stopping by on his route through South Shields to meet his little helpers at his grotto on Christmas Eve.

The event includes a serving of Afternoon Tea and all children on the nice list will receive a gift from Santa.

To book or find out more visit here

Sea Rd, South Shields, NE33 2LD

Durham

Christmas Eve Family Fun Day at South Causey Inn

If one Christmas dinner isn’t enough for you, then head to South Causey the night before to tuck into their full roast dinner featuring meats, veg, crispy roasties – complete with all the trimmings and lashings on gravy.

After dinner, guest vocalists will be taking to the stage with all the Christmas classics, which means you can work those roast potatoes off on the dance floor.

Santa will also be stopping by with gifts for the children.

Book here

South Causey Inn, Stanley, DH9 0LS

Christmas Eve Afternoon Tea at Lumley Castle

Surely there’s no better place to enjoy a mince pie or home-baked cake than in a castle.

Lumley Castle are long-standing hosts of their traditional Christmas Afternoon Tea, which takes place in either the Knights Restaurant or in the Garter State Room.

Lumley Castle and grounds
Lumley Castle
(Image: ChronicleLive)

Tables are available for intimate or larger parties and can be booked here

Ropery Ln, Chester-le-Street, DH3 4NX

Christmas at Beamish

Experience the magic of Christmas 1950’s style at Beamish Open Air Museum.

Beamish will remain open as usual on Christmas Eve, with plenty going on to keep families entertained.

Old fashioned car and festive decorations around Beamish open air museum
Christmas at Beamish
(Image: Beamish Museum)

There is a appearance from Father Christmas, the Beamish Bazaar, ice rink, festive decorations dotted across the town, 1950s Christmas in the Welfare Hall and traditional fairground.

Book here.

Regional Resource Centre, Beamish, DH9 0RG

Holmside Park’s Christmas Adventure

Take a trip to meet Santa, but beware you might run into and dastardly Grinch as he lurks around Holmeside Park this Christmas Eve.

There’s an illuminated Elf Village and a Grotto for little ones to visit and get a present for the big man himself.

There’s also Christmas games and use of the 20+ indoor & outdoor activities the site provides.

If the mood strikes you for a winter warmer, visit The Holmside Café for hot drinks, freshly made cakes, hot food, snacks & sandwiches.

Holmside Park Arena, Holmside Ln, Chester-le-Street, DH7 6EY

North Tyneside

Christmas Eve at Spanish City

Whitley Bay’s iconic venue Spanish City will be opening its door throughout the day on Christmas Eve.

You can have a browse through the vendors, and even pick up some very last minute one-of-a-kind gifts if you need to.

If you’re on Christmas dinner cooking duty, give yourself the night off on Christmas Eve and dine under the dome in Trenchers Fish & Chip Restaurant with the whole family.

View looking up at highly decorated Christmas tree
The Spanish City Christmas tree
(Image: Spanish City)

There’s also a Christmas Eve Breakfast buffet option at Spanish City, which includes a waffle and pancake station for kids, as well as a festive disco and a visit from Santa.

Tickets are £11.95 and can be booked here.

Watts Road, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

Christmas Eve Party at Kiki’s Kabin

Softplay centre KiKi’s Kabin will be hosting their own Christmas Eve party, which includes a festive picnic, activity pack and two hour play in the centre.

There’s also the opportunity to meet Santa in his Grotto and receive a present.

Children aged six months and over are welcome.

Book tickets here

34 Albion Rd, North Shields, NE30 2RQ

Christmas Eve Disco at The Shire Horse

The Shire Horse in Killingworth will be hosting their family-friendly disco between 3-7pm on Christmas eve.

Christmas songs will be blasting, they’ll be party games, Christmas crafts and letter writing to Santa too.

You can book a table here

Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 6HS

‘Starlight’ with Chris Bostock at The Exchange

Join in for a story time session this Christmas eve.

Children aged between 2-6 and their families can join professional storyteller Chris, and enjoy this live show featuring live music and props.

You chase purchase tickets here

Howard St, North Shields, NE30 1SE

N orthumberland

Alnwick Garden Winter Playground

Want to spend your Christmas Eve exploring Hogwarts? Of course you do, who wouldn’t.

Bring your monogrammed woolly jumper and enjoy the Winter Garden Trail, Winter Bumpers, Poison Garden Tours and The Winter Playground.

Santa standing behind festive lights in Alnwick Garden
Santa at Alnwick Garden
(Image: Handout)

Alnwick Garden is open on Christmas Eve from 10am-4pm.

Pre-booking here is essential.

Denwick Lane, Alnwick, NE66 1YU

Polar Express PJ Party at Willow Farm

Don your favourite Christmas PJs to cosy up and watch The Polar Express on the big screen, while they eat their dinner.

Tickets are £7.99 per person and can be booked here.

Northumberland Business Park West, Willow Ct, Cramlington, NE23 7GA

Santa’s Enchanted Elf Journey at Whitehouse Farm

Take a trip on the farm’s festive tractor and trailer to the Enchanted Forest where you will meet the Fun Forest Elves, who will help you on a special search to find a festive surprise.

The Enchanted Forest is also home to Santa’s real Reindeer, you can help the Elves feed them and of course there will be lots of fabulous photo opportunities with them too.

Children on a tractor ride at Whitehouse Farm
Children enjoy a tractor ride at Whitehouse Farm
(Image: Victoria Elliot)

There’s also a magic wishing tree where children can hang their wishes, before the magical snowy owl flies them away to the North Pole for Santa.

Speaking of Santa, you can visit him at the farm and receive a voucher from the big man to spend at the Elves Toyshop. Each paying child will also receive a personalised letter from Santa.

Other festive activities of the day include a visit to Mrs Claus’s Bakery where the children can decorate festive biscuits, a chance to create Christmas crafts, attend Elf School with the Hilarious Head Elf and take a stroll through the Winter Wonderland, which is a ideal setting for a festive family photo.

You can buy tickets here.

Whitehouse Farm Centre, Morpeth, NE61 6AW

Polar Express Movie Day at Gigglewicks

Children’s role play centre Gigglewicks is hosting a Polar Express film and PJ night in their party room this Christmas Eve.

They’ll be popcorn and hot chocolate on offer.

Regular play in the centre is also a option for any children who struggle to sit for long periods.

Tickets are £6 per child and can be purchased here

Unit 2, Network Centre, Colbourne Ave, Cramlington, NE23 1WD

Gateshead

The Snowman at Sage Gateshead

Families can cosy up with the a screening of classic Christmas classic The Snowman, accompanied by the live Royal Northern Sinfonia and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Still from The Snowman where characters fly into the sky together
The Snowman
(Image: Channel 4)

Visit here for tickets

Sage, St Mary’s Square, Gateshead NE8 2JR

Newcastle

Christmas Eve Skating in Times Square Newcastle

If you are searching for something a little different to do this Christmas Eve, why not try ice skating?

Located in the city centre, right outside the Life Science Centre, whirl and twirl in the open-air ice rink.

If you want to make a festive family day of it, pay a visit to the science centre and enjoy hands-on activities, luminous live shows, magical light play and festive experiments.

The rink will be open between 10am and 6pm.

Pre-booking here is essential.

Life Science Centre International Centre for Life,Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP

Lunch with Santa at The Village Hotel

Treat yourself for a 2 course lunch, completer with festive mini-disco for children and visit to Father Christmas in his grotto this Christmas Eve.

Go here for tickets

10 The Silverlink N, West Allotment, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE27 0BY

Sunderland

Santa’s Grotto at Liberty Brown

Liberty Brown steakhouse will be playing host to an array of festive faces this year.

Santa and his elves will be stopping by the grotto to give all the children on the ‘nice’ list a gift this year.

They’ll be a special appearance from the grumpy Grinch too.

Afterwards, dine from the restaurants menu and take advantage of the free face painting.

Tickets are £11 per child and can be purchased from the venue or by calling 0191 516 9009.

Timber Beach Rd, Sunderland, SR5 3XG

For the latest What’s On news, announcements and reviews direct to your inbox, go here to sign up to our free newsletter

Chronicle Live – Sunderland