13 things with a festive flavour to do this weekend
PUBLISHED: 18:58 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:37 19 December 2019
Lucy Taylor Photography
Pantos, a Christmas tree festival, a Santa meet and greet and a Rudolph run are among the events you can enjoy this weekend, in the run-up to the big day.
Cinderella, Regent Theatre, Ipswich, until December 31
You can have a ball at this popular panto, which features Hannah Spearitt as the Fairy Godmother, Adam Garcia as Prince Charming and Mike McClean as Buttons. Watch with amazement as Cinderella's pumpkin and white mice are transformed into a beautiful coach and horses in this true rags to riches story... but will Cinderella remember to leave the ball before midnight? The panto is from the team behind last year's recording breaking pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. On Friday, December 20, there is a late-night performance at 10pm for ages 16-plus, as well as a 5pm performance. On Saturday, December 21 and Sunday, December 22, there are two performances, at 12pm and 5pm. Some tickets are still available.
READ MORE - The great Suffolk panto guide 2019
Meet and greet with Father Christmas and VIPs Barbershop Choir, Buttermarket Centre, Ipswich, December 21
As part of the shopping centre's Planet Christmas series of events, children can meet Santa and receive a gift for free. There will also be Christmas carols from the VIPs Barbershop choir to add to the atmosphere. Children do need to be signed up, which can be done in advance via the website
Snowman and the Snowdog Trail, Banham Zoo, until January 5
If your children are fans of The Snowman and the Snowdog, the characters from the much-loved animation based on Raymond Briggs' picture book, you can see toy brick models of them at Banham Zoo. The trail, which is included in the zoo admission price, features 16 stunning models. On Saturday, December 21, the zoo will be open late, until 7pm, for visitors to follow the trail amind the festive lights. Father Christmas will also be at the zoo daily until Christmas Eve.
READ MORE - Everything you need to know about The Snowman and the Snowdog trail
Christmas Tree Festival, Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, until January 5
This is a fun free family event, which will get you feeling really Christmassy. The mansion has a Christmas tree festival until January 5, with a wide range of trees decorated by local organisations. You can vote for your favourite tree and combine it with a trip round the mansion's various other exhibits. The Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition has lots of interesting things to see and is also free, but you do need to book your slot online in advance.
The Famous Four & a Half Go Wild in Thetford Forest, Sir John Mills Theatre, Gatacre Road, Ipswich, until January 4
Looking for an alternative to traditional panto? This new musical comedy spoof is the answer, featuring Rupert, Nick, Fran, Alex and Dimmy the dog, who do battle with a shady character who has stolen their aunt's time machine. The crazy chase includes a certain Home Guard rehearsal! You can still get tickets for the 7.45pm performances on Friday, December 20 and Saturday, December 21, but tickets for the Saturday matinee at 3.45pm are limited. Ticket prices vary - you can find out more and book here.
Ipswich Parkrun Santa Run, Chantry Park, Ipswich, Saturday, December 21, 9am
There will be not one but two festive runs through Chantry Park this weekend. The first is the Ipswich Parkrun's annual Santa Run, with runners being encouraged to go along dressed as Santa. It's free to take part, but cash will be collected for the Chantry, the Sue Ryder care centre, and, after the run, parkrunners will go there to sing carols. If you haven't taken part in a Parkrun before, you need to sign up at the Parkrun page before going along.
Run, Rudolph, Run!, Chantry Park, Ipswich, Sunday, December 22, 11am
The second festive run through Chantry Park this weekend is this Christmas race. It's a 5K handicap race around the original Ipswich parkrun course, with a staggered start to mean everyone has an equal chance of winning. Prizes will be given to the first adult and first junior home, and all under-11s must be accompanied by an adult. The fastest runner will be dressed as Rudolph, and you have to make sure that Rudolph doesn't catch you! There is no entry fee, but there will be a bucket for donations, with all money raised going to The Bus Shelter homeless charity. To enter, visit the event's Facebook page and post your 5K time.
Children's Christmas Cupcake Workshop, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Saturday, December 21, 11am-3pm
Youngsters can get creative at this event for ages three upwards, as they decorate ready-made cupcakes ready to give Santa a festive treat. The sessions start at 11am and 12.30pm, and there is an £8 charge per child. Children aged nine and over can be left unattended, but parents and guardians need to stay in the building during the workshop.
Christmas Storytime at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, Stonham Barns, Saturday, December 21, 11am-12.30pm
Suffolk Libraries is joining forces with Suffolk Owl Sanctuary to host a morning of festive fun, with free admission. The event will start off with the opportunity to meet a real owl, followed by a festive story time suitable for children up to five, and then a mince pie and hot chocolate. Spaces are limited, so you need to book in advance by calling 03456 807897. Also admission to Suffolk Owl Sanctuary is not included in the free event.
Christmas Trail, Alton Water, until Christmas Eve
You can get the school holidays under way by taking your children along the Christmas trail, following the clues to discover interesting nature facts before claiming a goodie bag and chocolate reward. The event runs from 11am to 3pm daily, starting from the visitor centre cafe, and there is a £5 charge per person.
Ipswich Christmas Craft Fair, Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich, until December 23
If you haven't got round to visiting the big white tent yet, you still have a chance this weekend. The stalls include a range of unusual crafts and gifts, as well as festive food, all in a heated, floored marquee. Opening times over the weekend are from 9am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday and from 10am to 5pm on Sunday.
Adult Christmas events
Saints Big 80s Christmas party, St Peter's by the Waterfront, Ipswich, Saturday, December 21
If you fancy a Christmas party with a difference, this party will be full of 80s hits, with a video and light show from Relivance Video Disco. The Friday night event has already sold out, but tickets are still available for the Saturday event. There will be a bar including craft beers, and food including pulled pork and vegan street food options. To book, visit the event's Facebook page.
Adult Christmas party, Soap Your Auntie, The Kingfisher, Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, December 21
Following on from their recent children's party, the pub is now holding a party for adults with music from Soap Your Auntie. The band will play from around 9pm, but the venue is expected to be packed, so you may want to arrive early.