Dunham Massey Illuminations (C) National Trust Images Raymond Gubbay

The countdown is on and it’s time to embrace the festive period with gusto. From illuminated winter trails to seasonal story-telling, this is your definitive guide to Christmas days out in Cheshire for you and the kids.

Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey Illuminations (C) National Trust Images Raymond Gubbay

A real hit in its inaugural year in 2017, this winter trail is back… and it doesn’t do understatement. The estate’s gardens have been sprinkled with a generous dusting of twinkly lights for punters to potter around during after-dark jaunts. No need for Instagram filters here: this dazzling display of glowing trees, frosty snowflakes and baubles will enchant even the most hard-to-please tweens, with a bundle of theatrics on the bill too, including ‘whispering trees’ and a scented fire garden. Oh, and with marshmallow-toasting, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and mulled wine all up for grabs, this hotshot event is definitely one to pop in the diary. 30th November-30th December. £16.50 for adults, £10 for children, £50 for a family of two adults, two children. Under fives go free.

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Oddfellows on the Park

A kingpin on the Cheshire hotel scene, the playful and hip Oddfellows loves a good party. And this Christmas, it’s pulling out all the stops with a grotto and meetings with Santa for little ones, whilst parents can make a beeline for the Galloping Major – the pumping heart of the hotel – where festive afternoon teas are served, alongside some very quaffable bubbles. 2nd, 9th, 20th, 24th December. From £19.50 per adult; £12.50 per child.

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Tatton Park farm

The festive season sees a lot of dubious looking Father Christmas characters popping up in town centres with crappy beards and outfits. But the folk behind this farm take Noel very seriously. And this meet-and-greet with the big man himself will ensure your little ones are believers for many years to come. He’ll be joined by his entourage of trusty reindeer, and your brood can jump into his sleigh for a few photos to the soundtrack of brass bands and carols. 1st-2nd December, 8th-9th December, 15th-16th December, 22nd-23rd December. No booking required.

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Waugh Brow Farm

With a stellar reputation for superb local produce – think delicious and artisanal meats, seasonal veg, and deli staples – Waugh Brow is one of those places you duck in to buy a few sausages, and end up staying for hours, letting the kids eye up the resident farm animals and leap over bales of hay. The play area is only open over the weekends during winter, packed with mini tractors and tables, where parents can graze on big slabs of cake and excellent coffee. But this season, Santa is stopping by on 9th December with gifts up for grabs. For a place that takes its food seriously, but has fun with it, you can’t beat this charming little spot in Mobberley.

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Cinderella on Ice

The yuletide spirit will be in full force for the retelling of this classic fairy tale at Altrincham’s beloved ice rink on 13th December. This touring extravaganza is making stops across the country, with some of the UK’s most promising skaters taking to the ice, and an impressive production to captivate punters, great and small: pumpkin carriage, glass slippers, fairy godmothers and all. Children from £10; adults from £10.

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Quarry Bank Mill

This sprawling National Trust property is one of the county’s seasonal staples. This year the theme is ‘Once upon a winter’s day…’ with spectacles alluding to tales including Jack Frost, the Snow Queen, and the Nutcracker dotted in and around the mill. But the real magic for kids up to 10 years of age can be found with a storytelling session with Santa. Children from £9. Free entry for adults. 11th-12th December, 8th-9th December, 15th-16th December, 22nd-23rd December.

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The Reindeer Lodge

The lodge may be a little out the way – on the border with North Wales – but it’ll be met with such infectious enthusiasm by your wide-eyed tots, it’s worth the trek. Kids can meet and feed reindeer, huddle up with Father Christmas and his elves in his grotto, and ride some pretty hair-raising rides with a backdrop of blooming countryside. It’s a real crowd-pleaser. Adults from £12.65; children from £15.95. Babies under one go free.

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