Christmas markets and twinkling light trails are both sure-fire family winners for the festive season.
But Alton Towers take their Christmas fun a step further, and adding family rollercoasters and rides to the mix.
So my eight-year-old daughter Maeve and I headed over to the theme park in Staffordshire, to explore their Christmas wonderland.
Alton Towers is best known as a destination for thrill seekers, and is one of the UK’s most-visited theme parks.
But from late November to January 2, it’s transformed into a family-friendly festive day out.
And the Christmas spirit was evident from the start- as we walked through the gates we were greeted by dozens of brightly-lit Christmas trees and a live band playing carols.
First up is the Christmas market. With more than 60 stalls selling everything from bobble hats to booze.
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There are plenty of food stalls, a bar and mulled wine and hot, spiced apple juice stands dotted around the market, as well as small wooden cabins in case you need to shelter from the weather.
While the majority of the park and the biggest thrill-seeking attractions are closed for winter, Alton Towers have opened up CBeebies Land for the festive season, which is perfect for younger children.
There’s a Go Jetters ride that gently lifts you up and down, or Postman Pat trucks that trundle round the track featuring favourite characters from the show.
One of Alton Towers’ newest attractions, Gangsta Granny: The Ride is also open for visitors, spinning visitors 360 degrees around in their carriages while exploring scenes from the David Walliams’ book.
We headed for the Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure – a miniature coaster which children over 90cm can try, it’s an ideal introduction to theme park rides for kids.
But despite its small size the ride gets up quite a speed, and Maeve and I were soon shrieking with glee as we careered round curves and plunged down the miniature dips.
Finally, we headed over to the Lightopia light trail.
At 2km it’s the longest festive light trail in Europe. Visitors are taken through a stunning array of scenes and presented with a tour through all the seasons.
Having taken in several light trails over the past couple of years, this was the part we were most excited for, and we weren’t disappointed.
Jungle scenes full of monkeys and elephants, beautiful butterflies whose wings actually move and 3D selfie walls stuffed with light-up flowers were some of our favourites.
The final showstopper is a light projection where the screen is formed from an impressive water fountain and we watched Santa and his reindeers gallop across the spray.
A word of warning; take your waterproofs. Unless you’re able to time your visit with a clear, dry day you’re likely to be at the mercy of the weather, and we had heavy rain with strong gusts of wind for our visit.
If you’re looking for a fun, family day out that’s suitable for younger children and comes with festive markets, a fabulous selection of kids’ rides and a stunning light trail, Alton Towers is well worth a visit this Christmas.
Ticket prices start from £16 for entry to the markets and rides, and £20 for the markets and Lightopia trail. Entry to the markets, rides and Lightopia is from £31.
See altontowers.com/christmas for more information.
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