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Family Fun this Christmas

Published on 22 Dec 2011 by Gwion Llwyd

Christmas Biscuit and a Real Fire
Here are five suggestions for family-friendly activities and events taking place in Meirionnydd during the 2011 Christmas holidays.

1. See a pantomime

Pantomime is a lovely Christmas tradition that can be enjoyed by all members of the family, from tots to grandparents.

The pantomime at the Dragon Theatre in Barmouth this year, on 28th and 29th December, is Sleeping Beauty. The performance comes courtesy of the Ardudwy Youth and Community Theatre, and tickets – which are available at the door, though it’s advisable to call the theatre to check performance times if the weather is especially bad – cost just £5 for adults, £4 concessions and £15 for a family ticket, which covers two adults and two children.

2. Full steam ahead

It may not be quite the Polar Express – you won’t see waiters cartwheeling down the aisles, at any rate – but a trip aboard one of the Talyllyn Railway’s steam trains at Christmas is just as magical.

The Santa Special – a two-hour experience – leaves at 11am and 1pm on 23rd and 24th December from Tywyn Wharf. Children get to meet Santa, who will give an age-appropriate gift to each child, and there’s also an opportunity to have their photo taken with him at Plas Nadolig. When the train returns to Tywyn Wharf there’s complimentary mulled wine and mince pies for the adults.

There are also “Mince Pie Specials” running from 26th December to 1st January, where you can enjoy a round trip of the winter countryside from a comfortable heated carriage, festooned with Christmas decorations, and will be provided with seasonal light refreshments too.

3. Step back in time

Unfortunately, there are no time machines in Meirionnydd, so you won’t be able to do any actual time travelling. But there are plenty of historic buildings and monuments to visit, which is the next best thing.

Castles are always popular with family groups. The castle at Harlech is fantastic; it’s very well preserved and great for fighting imaginary battles with toy swords and seeing off make-believe evil foes. Less well preserved, but every bit as atmospheric – if not more so – is Castell y Bere, whose ruins are a great place to explore.

4. Music, Maestro, please!

Wales has long been known as the Land of Song; we’re naturally musical here in Wales, and so it should come as no real surprise that Meirionnydd has a whole building dedicated to the history of Welsh folk music.

Ty Siamas – the National Centre for Welsh Folk Music – awaits you, musically minded or not, at its home in Dolgellau. Take a tour of a recording studio, play some instruments, perhaps even catch a performance or two; and round off your visit with a trip to the on-site music shop and cafe. You’ll be singing its praises when you get home!

5. Air, air, everywhere

If you’re travelling to Meirionnydd from a large town or city, you’re bound to appreciate all the wide, open spaces and clean air that Meirionnydd have to offer.

Even in the middle of winter, you can’t beat a good walk in the Snowdonia countryside or along one of her many beaches. Take the eco-friendly option and travel by bus from one beauty spot to another, then breathe in our fresh, clean air while you walk off your Christmas dinner. The award winning beaches at Dyffryn Ardudwy, Harlech, Barmouthare especially worth a visit, but of course there’s enough open countryside and coastline to keep you going for months, so take advantage and get your walking boots on!

P.S. I’d like to add one more I’d forgotten about.

6. Portmeirion Winter Entry

Portmeirion, the famous Italian styled village, only charge a nominal fee for entry during the quiet winter months. Some of the shops and cafes are closed at this time but the architecture and the surrounding gardens means the village is still well worth a visit. (Don’t tell mum, but we had a great game of hide and seek there last week.)

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