Forget lords-a-leaping and maids-a-milking – in Snowdonia, the twelve days of Christmas are all about fun activities and attractions! Here’s the ultimate guide to Christmas in Snowdonia.
Christmas is a big deal in Snowdonia. When the mountaintops are dusted with snow, and fairy lights twinkle in the twilight, the Christmas atmosphere is contagious.
What is there to do in Snowdonia at Christmas time? Here’s the ultimate guide to Christmas events and activities in Snowdonia – which we’ve moulded to the best of our ability into a new take on the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. So settle down with a mince pie and a warming tipple, and discover all that Snowdonia has to offer at Christmas.
Twelve trees a-swinging
Can you find Santa’s sleigh? Throughout December, Santa’s Trail is a popular activity at Tree Top Adventure in Betws-y-Coed. This is a great day out for groups large and small, and at only £3 per person with 20% off other adventures when booked at the same time, this Christmas activity offers great value for money.
Eleven Santa specials
Santa’s trains run all over the Snowdonia region in December, giving the big man himself an opportunity to find out who’s naughty or nice and check his list (he’s checking it twice, just in case!)
Look out for Santa specials on the following railways on December weekends: Bala Lake Railway, Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway, Llanberis Lake Railway, and the Talyllyn Railway.
Ten breakfasts with Santa
Actually, there are fifteen – not ten – slots available for breakfast with Santa at Fron Goch Garden Centre in Caernarfon; but the song only mentions twelve days of Christmas, so we’ve had to be a bit creative with our version!
As well as the breakfast with Santa events, Fron Goch have lots of other things going on at Christmas – like carvery lunches on Sundays, Thursdays and Fridays between 7th and 23rd December, and a dazzling selection of Christmas decorations to browse and buy. Look out for their beautiful glass tree decorations – they’re future heirlooms in the making.
Nine Penrhyn Christmases
At Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, they really know how to do Christmas! Throughout December Penrhyn put on special Christmas weekends, with games, music and fun family activities galore. You can also see Santa on his special Christmas train, and buy wonderful Christmas goodies from the castle’s gift shop.
Eight snow-capped mountains
Longing to see some snow to get you in the Christmas mood? While we can’t make any promises that Snowdonia will live up to its frosty name this winter, the highest mountain tops usually have at least a light dusting of the white stuff by the time Christmas arrives. We can’t stress enough how dangerous it can be to walk on snowy peaks if you’re not properly trained and well-equipped; so looking at snow-capped mountains from ground level – and taking photos to use on next year’s Christmas cards – is the safer (and warmer) option.
Seven Christmas dinners
We’re not suggesting you try to out-eat the Vicar of Dibley by devouring seven Christmas dinners in one day (though you’re welcome to give it a try if you like) – but you might want to enjoy delicious Christmas meals on seven separate occasions in some of Snowdonia’s fantastic restaurants, hotels and pubs.
Need some inspiration? Try these seven for starters (and mains, and desserts): The Black Boy Inn, Caernarfon; Mynydd Ednyfed Country House Hotel, Criccieth; Cellb, Blaenau Ffestiniog; Garddfon, Y Felinheli; Castell Deudraeth, Portmeirion Village; Seiont Manor Hotel, Llanrug; and Blue Sky, Bangor.
Six Santa’s Grottoes
Santa’s grotto is open on six different dates in December at Greenwood Forest Park, so don’t miss your opportunity to let your children tell him what’s on their Christmas lists! For £6.50 a head, children will meet Santa, receive a present, and play in the enchanted wood barn too – what a great treat for the little ones!
Five Christmas shows
There are all sorts of Christmas shows to enjoy throughout Snowdonia in December. From concerts and dances to plays and storytelling, there’s a little something for everyone!
Look out for the Christmas Celidh at Theatr y Ddraig, Barmouth; “Dickens and Dylan” and “Humbug!” at Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli; the Cellb Christmas Party, Blaenau Ffestiniog, with live music all night long (free entry if you wear a Christmas jumper and hat); and a smashing Christmas concert at Theatr Harlech.
Four craft and food fairs
Visiting a craft or food fair in Snowdonia is a real treat. In many cases you’ll be able to meet the people that have crafted the items you’re buying, or the producers that have grown or cooked the wonderful food items they’re selling. Buying local is a great way to support the local economy and do your bit for the environment too – because locally produced means fewer food miles.
Four noteworthy craft and food fairs in 2012 are the Christmas Food and Craft Market at Electric Mountain in Llanberis; the Plas Glyn-y-Weddw arts and craft fair, Pwllheli; the Craflwyn Christmas Fair, Beddgelert; and the Portmeirion Food and Drink Festival. They’re all being held on the weekend of 1-2 December 2012, so take your pick or visit them all!
Three late shopping nights
Many of Snowdonia’s towns offer special extended-hours shopping events in December. Three of note can be enjoyed at Bala on 4th December 2012, Barmouth on 6th December, and a really special one at Conwy on 7th December which is accompanied by an atmospheric and very festive torchlight parade.
To learn more about independent shops in Gwynedd, join the ‘Siopau Gwynedd Shops‘ page on Facebook.
Two bracing walks
Spend a weekend at Plas y Brenin and join your fellow guests on a variety of walks around Snowdonia, as well as workshops, Christmas dinner and a sip or two of good ale. If you can’t spare a whole weekend, join the Bangor Bethesda Ramblers on a pre-Christmas six-mile Grade D walk around Felinheli and the Dinorwig Slate Quarry Railway.
And a Betws-y-Coed Christmas
If there’s any event guaranteed to make you feel Christmassy, “Nadolig Betws-y-Coed Christmas” is it. For one weekend in December, the village of Betws-y-Coed is transformed into a magical winter wonderland With events and attractions including lantern parades, carolling, a snowman shy, Santa’s campsite, a funfair, birds of prey, a reindeer park, a Santa dash and fireworks displays – and much more besides – it’d be impossible to visit this wonderful event without being overcome by Christmas spirit. So pop along and say “hello-ho-ho”!