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What's On: Betwixtmas 2023

Updated: Mar 7

Those strange days between Christmas and New Year can be joyfully lazy and full of leftovers and TV or, if you have kids, they can be characterised by over-excited, stir craziness, leaving you feeling like you really need to get everyone out of the house! If that’s you then we’ve got you covered. Read on and find loads of things to keep the whole family busy. Whatever you get up to, we wish you a very merry betwixtmas!


We love a trail! It provides the motivation required to get those little legs out and about in nature and, at Christmas, they often feature a chocolatey prize so it’s win-win!


Shipley Country Park

Elf Trail

Until Sun 31 Dec – 10.30am to 2pm

Self-led Christmas-themed trail. Complete Elf’s activity sheet and win a candy cane. No need to book.

£2 per child


Carsington Water

Christmas Trail

Until Mon 1 Jan (excludes Christmas Day) – 10am to 3pm

Collect a trail sheet from the visitor centre and follow clues around Stones Island. Brilliant play area, small café and larger restaurant too. No need to book.

£3 (return sheet for a prize)


Tittesworth Reservoir

Christmas Trail

Until Mon 1 Jan (excludes Christmas Day) – 10am to 3pm

Collect a trail sheet from the visitor centre and follow clues. Great play area and restaurant too. No need to book.

£3 (return sheet for a prize)


Or why not join in with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s 12 Days Wild: discover some winter wildlife and do some wild acts to help nature. It officially runs from Christmas Day until Fri 5 Jan but you can do as much or as little as you like. Check out more information here



At this time of year, visitor numbers at farms and wildlife parks can take a hit. We visited one on a beautiful blue-skied but snowy mid-December day and had the place almost to ourselves. Whilst this may be quite pleasant as a guest, it’s great to continue supporting them over the quieter winter months. Some others in Derbyshire appear to be closed for the rest of the year so check before you travel.


Matlock Farm Park

Open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day – 10am to 4.30pm

One of our favourites, Matlock Farm Park is great in any weather. There’s a variety of animals to see and feed, pony rides at certain times, and various little play areas. If it starts to rain, the small animal handling is undercover, there are a few animals housed indoors, there’s a giant covered newish play area, as well as a soft play and cafe. 50% off from 27 – 31 Dec.

Find out more and book tickets here


Peak Wildlife Park

Missing Elf Trail

27 Dec to 7 Jan and open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day – 10am to 5pm

The elves didn’t want to leave after helping in Santa’s Grotto so they’ve hidden themselves around the park. Santa needs your help to find them! Penguins and polar bears – what more could you want for a winter day out?! Find out more and book here




Sometimes, when the weather is a bit ropey, you just need the kids to burn off some energy. Here are a few tried and tested suggestions.


Cathedral Quarter Ice Rink


Until Sun 31 Dec

Derby’s own glittering ice rink will be back again this year. Fun for all the family.

Tickets: £10 Book here

Tansley Barn Garden Centre

Open from 27 Dec – 9am to 5pm (garden centre opening times – check soft play before you travel)

A little soft play next to a café with the added bonus of a craft activity and colouring table. Find out more here


Mindfulness Colouring

Somercotes Library

Thu 28 Dec – 4.15 to 5pm

Open to all ages.


Christmas All Day Board Gaming

West End Community Centre, Mackworth

Thu 28 Dec – 10am to 10pm

A chance to play lots of board games. Hot drinks, biscuits. Bring games to sell.

Under 16s free; £5 adults


The Play Village


Open from 28 Dec – sessions at 9.30, 12.15 and 3.30 (2hrs 15 each)

‘Role play not soft play’. Kids can enjoy endless role play opportunities in eight different play pods. There’s also a lovely café which, if you’re lucky, you can sit and enjoy whilst the wonderful play leader keeps an eye on the kids!

Book here


Christmas Crafts

Belper Library

Sat 30 Dec – 10am to 3pm

Come along to do some Christmas crafts and play with the interactive table


We’ve found a selection of ideal days out for the whole family – some still Christmassy, othes not.


Boxing Day Raft Race


Tue 26 Dec – 10am

Decorated rafts start at Cawdor Quarry in Matlock, head through Matlock Bath and finally reach the finish line at Cromford Meadows. Awards ceremony at the Fish Pond in Matlock Bath. Donations to RNLI welcome. More information here


Christmas Lights Trail


Until Thu 4 Jan

Lights trail supporting Ashbourne Playaway. Find out more and get a map here


Christmas at Haddon Hall

Until Fri 29 Dec

Each room is decorated with magical scenes. Find out more here

Tickets: £24.90 adult, children free, parking £3.80


Sudbury Children’s Country House

Open from Boxing Day onwards – 10am to 4pm PRE-BOOK ONLY

If you only go to one National Trust Place with kids, make it this one. There’s a truly brilliant museum, a stately home designed to engage children throughout, gardens and the usual NT café.

Tickets: £11 child; £22 adult

Book here


Hardwick Wintertide

Hardwick Hall

Until Sun 7 Jan

Share a special winter with the family at Hardwick Wintertide – chase lights and shadows around the hall as you tour by lantern light. Then visit the Great Barn Restaurant or the Hardwick Inn. More information here

Tickets: £8.50 child; £17 adult


Christmas in the Garden


Until Sun 7 Jan

Enjoy an interactive light and sound trail around the garden from dusk. Includes parking.

Tickets: from £11

Book here




What better rainy day activity that a little trip to the cinema with some popcorn and a festive drink?




Wonka, The Boy and the Heron (from Studio Ghibli), Wish and Godzilla Minus One are all showing over the Betwixtmas week!

Book here


The Ritz


Watch Wish and Wonka in the uniquely lovely surroundings of the Ritz.

Book here


For a really memorable festive experience, why not treat your little people to a trip to the theatre? Check out our reviews for Naughty Meg and Mother Goose

The Snow Queen and Other Stories by AVP Theatre FREE

Derby Market Place (in the Nordic Bar next to the Ice Rink)

Until Sun 31 Dec – 11.15am (45 mins long)

A free family-friendly show with lots of interactivity! Step inside the Magic Storybook and watch the fairy and cast of mischievous puppets bring some Winter tales to life.


Mother Goose

Derby Arena

Until Sun 31 Dec

An action-packed adventure from Derby LIVE guaranteed to have the whole family honking with laughter.

Tickets: £19 to £30

Book here


Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves

Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Until Sat 30 Dec

Derby LIVE bring back the Babbling Vagabonds this Christmas with a wickedly comic tale which will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever been the slightest bit naughty.

Tickets: £15

Book here


Three Billy Goats Gruff

Derby Theatre

Until Sun 31 Dec

Join three adventurous billy goats as outwit the troll to cross the bridge to the other side. A festive treat from Hiccup Theatre in collaboration with Derby Theatre and Polka Theatre.

Tickets: from £12.50

Book here



Winding Wheel, Chesterfield

Until Tue 2 Jan

Join Aladdin on the journey of a lifetime as he soars through the skies in his quest for fortune and true love. Full of magic, mystery and make-believe.

Tickets: from £20.20

Book here



Buxton Opera House

Until Mon 1 Jan

Join an incredible cast for another year of wonderful music, the finest comedy routines and a sprinkle of Christmas magic. It’s a pantomime for the whole family to enjoy!

Tickets: from £21.50

Book here


At the most expensive time of the year, free activities are often just what we need.


We’re lucky to have so much accessible woodland in the area: Shining Cliff Woods in Ambergate, Allestree Park, Heritage Wood in Ashbourne, Duke’s Quarries in Whatstandwell, Bow Woods in Cromford, The Chevin between Belper and Milford and Holbrook Woods.


The High Peak and Monsal Trails offer a range of different walks too. We love the little walk from the National Stone Centre in Wirksworth (includes a café, small playground and museum), along the High Peak Trail in the direction of Black Rocks (good for a scramble) and on as far as you like. You can head back the same way or meander back through the woods.


We also recommend checking out the Peak District Kids website where you’ll find hundreds of searchable walks of all lengths and suitable for all levels of ability.


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