What can you do in Aviemore at Christmas?
My family used to visit Aviemore every year when I was a child, to see Father Christmas at Santa Claus Land (which sadly no longer exists) but thirty years later, with young children of my own, we return regularly to see Santa who is now resident on board the Santa Express here at Strathspey Railways.
The town of Aviemore itself always reminds me of a frontier town from a cowboy film. Perhaps it’s the low buildings, many timber clad, that line the long main street and the backdrop of snow-capped Cairngorm mountains. Aviemore is Britain’s most popular ski resort but there’s plenty more for families to do than just snowsports. It’s a brilliant playground all year round and the Highlands of Scotland has to be one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. Aviemore is the perfect place to truly get away from it all – while keeping the kids amused of course.
A day out in Aviemore at Christmas should most certainly include a trip up Cairngorm Mountain on the funicular railway, even if you’re not planning on doing any skiing or snowboarding. The kids love the ride and you’ll love the stunning views. If you are good skiers or just want to learn, there are various beginners packages, ski passes and equipment available to rent. There’s a nice warm cafe with incredible panoramic views at the top. (Check the forecast before you head up though, as one time we visited, it was completely white over and we couldn’t see a thing).
Another favourite family attraction around Aviemore at Christmas is the Landmark Forest Adventure Park which is a giant woodland playground. Our kids loved it as there are nature-based activities including a forest walk, nature trail, a treetop walk suitable for little kids, plus rides such as mini-roller coasters and plenty of slides and climbing frames. Not all of these rides are open during the winter months however but the ticket entry price is reduced accordingly. (It’s probably not a wet-weather day out though unless you are all well suited and booted but the upside is you’ll have the place to yourselves which is fun!). There’s a nice cafe too with soup, cakes and a view of the duck pond.
If you just want to sit on a gorgeous beach, walk the dog, skim stones and enjoy a family picnic, then visit Loch Morlich. Here you can also rent kayaks and small sailing dinghies. A movie set was built there in the summer of 2017 for a Hollywood film about King Robert the Bruce.
For slightly older children, 8+ say then the nearby Rothiemurchus estate has plenty of action-packed outdoor activities available, including archery, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking and pony trekking.
In previous visits to Aviemore at Christmas we’ve also enjoyed the Strathspey Steam Railway even when Santa isn’t aboard and the Cairngorm Deer Centre, both of which we’d recommend. There is also the Highland Wildlife Park, an offshoot of Edinburgh Zoo, although on several occasions we have driven there, then turned around because the ticket prices for a family seemed a bit steep for a family of four, particularly if you’ve already been on an excursion that day. Although, there be wolves here… which everyone loves. This whole area is simply gorgeous but check out the Carr Bridge
Where to stay in Aviemore at Christmas
Coylumbridge Hotel lies just a mile or so outside Aviemore and is absolutely ideal for families with young children. It has two pools, including a toddler pool, a huge soft play (plus games arcade), two mini-golf courses, an outdoor play park and an adventure centre where they can provide you with skis and bikes plus mini-quads, trampolining, skating, all-weather sledging and a climbing wall.
The hotel also offers a range of supervised evening activities for kids and there are four bars and dining areas where the staff are all incredibly relaxed about toddlers and young ones haring madly about. There is also a spa and a gym if mum or dad subsequently require some quiet time…
We have also stayed at Macdonald Aviemore Resort several times. The resort in the town centre is comprised of a number of hotels, several types of restaurants, activity centres including pool/spa and self-catering lodges. Of these, the Macdonald Aviemore Hotel is most suitable for families and some rooms even sleep five. Our family loves this resort, mainly because the swimming pool (with flume) is amazing, there’s a good soft play area and it has a wonderful cinema. On a rainy day, you need never leave the site. You can pay to use these facilities even if you are not a guest here.
Aviemore at Christmas has been a favoured destination for our family for years, two generations in fact!
by JW Patrick [www.familytraveljournal.co.uk]
For more Winter family holiday ideas, have you thought about visiting Lapland?