Don’t let the long nights get you down. There’s lots of great winter activities, indoors and out…
The long dark nights are here. Where I live, it has turned decidedly nippy. As we pass Halloween and head for Christmas, there’s no escaping the fact that – as they say in Game of Thrones – winter is coming.
But that’s no reason to be downhearted. The UK does winter well. We don’t mean leaves on the line and the country grinding to a halt at the first sniff of a snowfall. We’re not so good at that bit. But we do winter fun well. So as long as you’ve got a decent coat and a stiff pair of boots, entertaining the kids this winter shouldn’t be a problem.
Check your local papers, websites and neighbourhood notices for the details of what’s on in your area, but here’s our pick of wintry activities indoors and out, just to get you started.
Outdoor ice skating
Open air ice skating has become a bit of tradition around the UK, and 2019 will be no exception. Trust us, even if you haven’t done it before, ice skating is a lot of fun, and that’s especially true for children, who as everyone knows are really quite bendy. You’ll soon get the hang of it, and once you can get around a rink without holding onto the edge for dear life, you’re away. And the other good bit? There’s a steaming hot toddy or mulled wine waiting for you when you finish, with hot chocolates for the kids.
once you can get around a rink without holding onto the edge for dear life, you’re away
Hogwarts in the snow
We asked our friends at family activity app Hoop to give us their pick of great winter activities too, and one of the things they came up with is Hogwarts in the snow at the Harry Potter studio tour in Watford. “Explore the Great Hall lined with Christmas trees, the stage decorated for
the Yule Ball and much more,” they say, and we have to admit, when the magical world of wizardry meets the magical world of Christmas, it’s bound to be a lot of fun.
Have a craft day
Scared of arts and crafts? We’ve talked about this. Wet, windy days are a perfect time to get the pens, paints and glue out and get making. You’ll find loads of ideas in the link above, but you could also search out organised crafting sessions. There are lots around, especially in the run up to Christmas. For example, how about some family Christmas printmaking at Salisbury Arts Centre (as recommended by Hoop)? You can make your own unique cards and wrapping paper for friends and family.
Start your family tree
Here at DaddiLife we’re strong believers in getting kids outside as often as possible. But on really wintry days the park and the playground are not a lot of fun. If you have to stay in, make the most of it. Crafts are one answer. And why not start researching your family tree? Children tend to have a natural interest in the past, especially when people they know and love are involved. Start with chatting about your own childhood, and go from there. There’s plenty of good advice here.
Children tend to have a natural interest in the past, especially when people they know and love are involved
Sometimes the most simple winter activities are the most effective . Get out into the woods or onto the moors and get walking. If it’s snowy or crisp underfoot, so much the better. Stop for a game of hide and seek. Children have a natural aversion to ‘going for a walk’ (at least they do in our house), but filling it with games (maybe set them off collecting certain items for a craft project at home) and fun will a) keep them warm and b) keep them interested. Just make sure they’ve got decent waterproof gear. A wet child is an unhappy child, in our experience. If it’s not too cold, you could even make it a camping trip!
Go to a festival
Think festivals are a summer thing? Think again. Winter festivals are a lot different, but there are plenty of them about. How about Nottingham’s spectacular Light Night festival, a celebration of sculpture, art and performance to chase the dark nights away. The Coastival festival in Scarborough is three days of art, drama and music beside the crashing waves of the Yorkshire coast. Or step back in time to one of a number of Victorian winter and Christmas festivals, including one at Portsmouth’s historic dockyard.
Have a PJ day
This is a personal favourite of ours for winter activities. On a particularly filthy day weatherwise, everybody gets into their PJs and stays in them, all day. And that’s it. The kids will love the naughty novelty of it, and what you do on your cosy PJ day is up to you. Play boardgames. Have a Netflix marathon. Make cookies. Maybe even get the best Nerf Gun to have fun with. Just make sure you have enough food and treats in so that nobody has to leave the house from midday onwards. We combine this with cold buffet eating and paper plates, so nobody has to cook and nobody has to wash up! Perfect slobbing!
Instil your children with a fascination for the majesty and mystery of the universe by wrapping up warm on a cold, clear night, heading somewhere quiet and away from too much artificial light, and spending 20 minutes just staring at the sky. Fill little heads with some amazing facts about how far a star is away and how far in the past it is as you look at it. Take a telescope if you have one, binoculars if you don’t, but most of all utilise one of the many ace star maps and guides in your smartphone app store. Don’t forget the moon, pockmarked with craters the kids can see and human footprints they can’t.