The Best British Zoos to Visit This Christmas | British Hamper - The British Hamper Company

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The Best British Zoos to Visit This Christmas

20 Oct 2022 by Liz Tod

Read time: 6 mins.

Looking for some festive fun in the weeks up to Christmas? Something for all the family but a little different, perhaps?  Interested in animals?

Then how about a visit to one of the many zoos in the UK and Ireland?!

Most people don’t realise that there are many special events at zoos every Christmas.  

Check out our top 9 suggestions for zoo days out at Christmas:


1. Chester Zoo (01244 380280)

  • 11th November – 23rd December.
  • 4pm – 8.15pm.
  • From £15 adult, £12 child.

Wonderful Chester Zoo, with its 128 acres of gardens and over 20,000 animals, invites you to magical evenings throughout November & December.

Follow a sparkling trail of lanterns and lights around the zoo and meet life-size animal puppets.  See the glowing castle and walk through tunnels of light.

Drop in to see Father Christmas in his grotto and visit his reindeer!

Enjoy the Christmas Market and indulge in the many festive treats.


2. Five Sisters Zoo, West Calder, Scotland (01506 870000)

  • 11th November – 26th November, Fridays and Saturdays 5pm-9pm.
  • 1st December – 24th December, every evening 4pm – 9pm.
  • From £19 adult, £10.60 child.

Come and see the illuminations at this popular, family-run zoo in West Lothian!

Enjoy watching the wildlife (home to 180 different species), ride on the carousels and enjoy hot chocolate, mulled wine and many festive treats.

Visit Father Christmas in his Grotto and receive a gift (extra cost)!

A person in a santa suit sitting on a chair in front of a christmas tree

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Many of these zoo’s offer an opportunity for kids to meet Father Christmas in his Grotto. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.


3. London and Whipsnade Zoos ( for more information on times and prices)

  • 26 November – 3rd January.

These famous zoos promise a magical day out at Christmas time.

Enjoy festive activities including cookie decorating with Mrs Claus, an animal craft workshop and, very importantly, a visit to the Chief Elf in the Polar Post Room!  Then, of course, pop in to see Santa in his Grotto!


4. Colchester Zoo 

  • 26th - 27th November             9.30am – 4.30pm
  • 3rd – 4th December                9.30am - 4.30pm
  • 10th – 11th December             9.30am – 4.30pm
  • 17th – 24th December             9.30am – 4.30pm

Set in 60 acres of parkland and home to many rare and endangered species, Colchester Zoo invites you to come and enjoy the ‘Magic of Christmas’ on the above dates.

Join in with the many festive activities including crafts in the Elves’ workshop. Listen to their stories. Visit Father Christmas.

Take the Christmas Road train and be bowled over by festive scenery.

On selected dates in December join the ‘Enchanted Light Trail’ from 5.30pm – 8.30pm. Guaranteed to make one feel Christmassy!

Experience the Christmas light trails. Photo by freestocks on Unsplash.


5. Dudley Zoo, West Midlands

  • 1st December – 24th December.
  • Various prices.

Home to many endangered species, this interesting zoo is located around limestone caverns and the ruins of 11th century Dudley Castle.

This year’s theme is ‘The Chronicles of Dudley Castle’.

Visit Father Christmas in his magical Grotto within the Castle.

See his reindeer herd – how festive is that?!

Enjoy the 40 acres and its many animals all on an ancient wooded hillside.


6. Dublin Zoo

  • 28th October – 9th January  5pm – 9pm.
  • From £23 adult, £19 child.

One of Dublin’s most popular attractions and covering over 69 acres,

The Christmas theme this year is ‘The Magic of Life’.

Be amazed at over 1000 lanterns and twinkling lights lighting up magical scenes of rainforests, woodlands and underwater worlds.

On Saturdays and Sundays from 9.30am (12th November until Christmas) Father Christmas can visit you at your table in the restaurant to deliver a gift!


7. Longleat Safari Park, Warminster 

  • 5th November – 8th January
  • From £39.95 adult, £29.95 child

This Christmas come and enjoy ‘The Festival of Lights’, a spectacular light show display, at this famous safari park. 

This year’s theme is ‘The Wondrous Worlds of Roald Dahl’.

Over 800 lanterns will illuminate scenes from Dahl’s stories.

There’s also a Santa Train (extra charge) to see Father Christmas plus plenty of animal and adventure attractions.

An ‘Enchanted Christmas Tree Show’ and a winter safari drive-through will make this a very memorable experience.

Spot wildlife with the kids as you get into the festive spirit. Photo by Pauline Bernfeld on Unsplash.


8. Knowsley Safari Park, Prescot, Merseyside 

  • 19th November - 23rd December
  • From 4pm.
  • Prices vary.

This park turns into a magical winter wonderland at Christmas time.

Follow an animal trail and forest lights.

Toast marshmallows and indulge in festive treats.

Walk through the woods to meet Father Christmas (day- time trips available too).

There are even activity days (on selected dates) for children aged 8-10 yrs when they can feed animals, make crafts and go on foot and drive safaris!


9. Marwell Zoo, Nr Winchester 

  • From 18th November – 30th December, on selected dates.
  • 5pm- 7pm
  • £15 adult, £12 child

‘Glow Marwell’! Enjoy a festive after-dark experience at this lovely zoo in the beautiful landscaped grounds of the interesting medieval Marwell Hall.

Be dazzled by the spectacular lights, sounds and surprises along the Winter Light Trail.

Plenty of delicious treats along the way and an amazing shop, with its ethically sourced gifts, to pick up some Christmas presents!


So that’s our top nine picks for festive zoos!


Were you surprised?

It’s a great idea isn’t it!  A good combination. The kids will love it and probably lots of adults too!

If you do decide on one please drop us a line.


And if you’d like to get your Christmas shopping sorted from the comfort of your own home, take a look at our range of Christmas food hampers.