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.
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.
Christmas Eve with Santa at The Sea Hotel
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Regional Resource Centre, Beamish, DH9 0RG
Holmside Park’s Christmas Adventure
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
Christmas Eve at Spanish City
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Visit here for tickets
Sage, St Mary’s Square, Gateshead NE8 2JR
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.
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
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