With plenty going on at wildlife parks throughout the UK this festive season, we’ve selected our pick of the best Christmas events taking place this year…
Longleat’s Festival of Light – A Fantastic Voyage is the Wiltshire attraction’s most ambitious ever Christmas event. Featuring more than 1,000 different illuminated lanterns and three-dimensional scenes, visitors can expect to be taken on a magical journey through time and space, from the age of the dinosaur to a rocket trip around the solar system.
There’s also there’s the chance to go on a drive-through Winter Safari, experience ‘A Flight Before Christmas’ with real flying owls, and be transported by the Santa Train to meet Father Christmas in his wintry woodland grotto. For more information go to www.longleat.co.uk/festival-of-light.
Marwell Zoo has transformed into a magical winter wonderland for its festive event with glittering illuminated trees and an enchanting Neverland-inspired world inside the zoo’s Grade 1 listed manor house.
The family friendly Christmas experience lasts around 60-80 minutes and includes an enchanting tale inspired by Peter Pan, a Christmas present workshop with the mischievous elves, a competition to win a stocking full of presents and the chance to meet Santa in his grotto.
Guests who book by 3.30pm will be also able to explore the zoo as part of their day ticket – advance booking recommended. Christmas at Marwell runs until December 21st – www.marwell.org.uk/zoo/christmas
A magical new family experience is on offer at ZSL London Zoo this Christmas as the iconic landmark hosts a magnificent festive light trail.
After the sun sets and the animals have bedded down, the Zoo will transform into a fairyland of twinkling decorations with over 100,000 gently glistening lights. Marvel at the illuminated animal sculptures, including flying flamingos, towering giraffes and a giant glowing lion, and the beautifully lit fountains at the historic Lubetkin penguin pool. Hear the mesmerising sounds of the Singing Trees before enjoying some traditional treats at the Zoo’s Christmas village.
Guests can also upgrade their tickets to stay in one of nine Christmas cabins at Gir Lion Lodge, nestled in the heart of the Zoo and sleeping within roaring distance of the lions. Christmas at London Zoo runs until Monday 1 January 2019 – www.christmasatlondonzoo.co.uk
During the festive season Yorkshire Wildlife Park will be enchanted by Christmas elves, a Polar Bear Santa and festive characters who will be spreading goodwill during special walkabout appearances.
Christmas Fairs featuring over 90 stalls will take place over the weekends of 8th and 9th plus 15th and 16th December with Father Christmas in his Grotto on all four days and a Victorian fairground, brass bands and singers performing Christmas songs adding extra sparkle.
This will also be the first Christmas that the rescued Ussuri brown bears will be spending at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, with rare Painted Dogs and four Polar Bears also available to see on the walk through safari. For more information on visiting go to www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com
West Midland Safari Park is hosting its annual Santa Safari with a magical grotto, over 350 Christmas trees and a transformed Discovery Trail featuring sparkling lights, baubles and a sprinkling of ‘snow’.
Children will be able to meet Santa in his grotto, enjoy some amazing stories from the park’s animals during ‘Elf Story Time’ and visit the Elf Craft Club in the Safari Academy.
There’s also the chance to watch the festive Sea Lion Show and share a first Christmas with the park’s new baby rhino, giraffe and zebras. Santa Safari runs until 30 December with more information at www.santasafari.co.uk
Enjoy a Winter Warmer with your little ones this Christmas as Monkey World in Dorset transforms its Watering Hole Café into a festive forest.
Sample some Christmas goodies, go on a tinsel trail and help Mrs Claus make presents for the 250 rescued monkeys & apes within the park. As well as keeping your little monkeys entertained, you could also adopt this Christmas and help Monkey World rescue and rehabilitate more primates in need.
Visit Monkey World’s Winter Warmer between 15th and 23rd December – more info www.monkeyword.org