Sunday, 26 January 2020

Houghton House & Ampthill Great Park

Today we ventured out of Northamptonshire to visit Houghton House.  This is an English Heritage site and free to enter.  It is the shell of a 17th century mansion and has stunning views of the countryside.  There are no facilities and really its just a lovely spot to wander.  You could obviously take a picnic in warmer months although note there are no benches.  You can walk into town following a 1 mile track.  There is a small free car park enough room for approximately 4 cars. The address is Hazelwood Road, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, MK45 2EZ

Houghton House

Houghton House

Houghton House

As Houghton House is a quick activity we combined it with a trip to Ampthill Great Park which was close by. A good large spaced out but enclosed children's play area, 3 signposted walks, café (open 9.30am to 5pm), tennis courts (free use for 30 mins) and free parking.  A really lovely place to visit. The park is off Woburn Road near the Parkside Community Hall and has 2 car parks. The park also hosts cricket, football, fishing and has a 3 day festival each year.  I can see why Ampthill Great Park is so popular with locals and won a Green Flag award.

Ampthill Great Park

Ampthill Great Park

Ampthill Great Park


Saturday, 28 December 2019

Season Passes for Northamptonshire Days Out

It's nearly 2020 and as always it got me thinking about holidays as everyone is offering a deal! This lead me to days out in Northamptonshire.  A great way to save money is with season passes. We all know how costly taking the kids out can be especially in the school holidays so with some careful planning a season pass can be a great way to get the kids out for what feels like free later in the year.  Obviously some season passes carry a large outlay Merlin I'm looking at you but depending on location & the age of your children it can be a great idea.  As my blog is mostly Northampton based I decided to have a browse at some of our favourites to inspire you.

1. First and foremost has to be Castle Ashby - We have a season ticket for Castle Ashby and go often.  The play area is now a tad small for my children but they still like a wander around and looking at the animals (who doesn't love a meerkat) and I can bribe the tween with a scone! All passes are valid for 12 months and cost Adults £25.00 Couple £45.00 Family (2 adults and 3 children) £65.00 4 Adults £80.00

Season passes - Castle Ashby

2. Riverside Hub - I know Riverside Hub is popular with anyone with pre schoolers & we've been for several birthdays.  A friend has a pass & uses it weekly.  Membership costs £125 per child and £40 per adult and gives unlimited visits on any school-day. 2nd child is £125, third and subsequent children pay £60 each.

3. Mini Meadows - We used to visit Mini Meadows frequently and I've always thought it is amazing value.  They offer lots of season tickets options starting at £60 for 3 people.  They go up to £160 which is for 8 so they cover all family sizes and types.  A lovely small farm which is constantly making changes.  The indoor barn & café are great for those rainy days.

4.  Northamptonshire Country Parks - One you might not have considered but an annual parking ticket may be beneficial.  The pass is £51.50 and covers the 5 parks listed below

  • Barnwell Country Park
  • Fermyn Woods Country Park
  • Irchester Country Park, near Wellingborough
  • Sywell Country Park, near Northampton
  • Brixworth Country Park- plus Anglian Water car parks at Holcot causeway and Pitsford
You can pay £38 for 1 park of your choice only.  You can also add a 2nd car at time of booking for £5.10.

Season passes - Northampton Country Car Parking

5.  West Lodge Farm - A 2nd farm for the list.  West Lodge was always a family favourite at Halloween.  Individual £40, Family of 4 £150 and Family of 5 £175. You receive priority booking for Bonfire & Christmas events.

6. Wicksteed Park - They offer annual wristbands and a photograph is taken & stored. At the time of writing the price was not available on the website.  You can also purchase a annual car park ticket which is £40 perfect for if you live nearby and want to use the parks.  

7. Stanwick Lakes - Stanwick Lakes is another popular park which offers a membership scheme for parking.  £37 plus £5 fee the 1st time you apply.  Unlimited car parking during opening hours. Considering the summer it is £5.80 for 3+ hours if you are a regular this is great value.

Season Passes - Stanwick Lakes Car Parking

8.  National Trust - Lastly I wanted to mention National Trust.  We have had a card for 2 years and I must be honest we don't use it to its full but I'm determined to go somewhere every month in 2020.  We find the saving on Christmas at Waddesdon makes it worthwhile.  In our area you can visit Stowe, Canons Ashby and Lyveden.  Obviously this can be used Nationwide. A family membership is £126


Sunday, 10 November 2019

Christmas fairs & family activities

This guide is for all things Christmas in Northamptonshire.  I have separated into Christmas Fairs, Children specific (breakfast with Santa/Discos etc) and Christmas light switch on.  If you are after Pantos, ice skating or grottos they are in a separate guide as otherwise it would be enormous!!!


Sooooo many Christmas Fair's! Some seem more family friendly than others but have a browse & take your pick.

Frost Fair & Parade - Northampton Market Square
1st December 11am to 4pm.  Over 70 independent traders, music, food & drink.

Christmas Fair - Abington Park Museum
23rd & 24th November 11am to 4pm Artisan producers, gifts, decorations, food & drink.  Free admission

Christmas Fair - Billing Aquadrome
7th & 8th December 10am to 4pm Christmas market stalls, crafts and Santa £2 per visit.

Christmas Fair - Delapre Abbey
14th & 15th December 11am to 4pm stalls and seasonal activities £5 per adult entry children free.

Christmas Fayre - Weston Favell Village
16th November 11am to 2pm Free entry. Christmas gift shopping, games, book stalls, raffle, face painting, tea & coffee, cake stalls.

Christmas Fair - Wootton Community Centre
23rd November 12 to 4pm 

Christmas Fair - Kingsthorpe College
7th December 12 to 3pm craft stalls, face painting, food & drink, musical performances. Free entry.

Christmas Market - Duston Village Bakery
14th November 6 to 9pm.  25 stalls from jewellery to biscuits.

Christmas Fair - Vintage Retreat
7th December 10.30 am to 4pm stalls, food and drink.  Free entry.

Christmas Craft Fayre - The Bee Hive Kingsthorpe
23rd Novemer 10 to 3pm.  25 stalls & café.  Free entry.

Christmas Craft & Gift Market - Wicksteed Park
16 & 17th November 10.30am to 5 pm and 4pm Sunday.  80 stalls, children's face painting, glitter tattoos, Christmas characters (charges may apply) food & drink.  Free parking £2 entry fee, children free.  50% of the proceeds go to charity. 

Christmas Craft Fair - Workbridge Bedford Road
30th November 10 to 4pm 20 independent stalls, food & drink.  You can also buy a Christmas tree from the garden centre.

Christmas Food & Gift Market - Duston School
5th December 5 to 8pm Food & gift stalls, Santa's grotto, real reindeer, raffle, live music and more.

Christmas Extravaganza - Bugbrooke Primary School
29th November 3.30 to 6pm  stalls, food & drink, wear your Christmas jumper, visit Santa, play some games.

Christmas Fete - Parklands Community Centre
23rd November 2 to 4pm  stalls, bake off, tombola, tea & cake.  In association with the 27th Northampton Scout Group.

The Obelisk Centre 
1st December 11am to 3pm. Slime, festive good & drink, stalls and tombola.

Moulton Charity Christmas Fair with Father Christmas £2 per visit (One day only) 24th November 1 to 5pm at the community centre. Just turn up all profits go to charity.

Christmas Festival - Glamis Hall Wellingborough
7th December 9.30 am to 4pm  Stalls, food & drink, meet Father Christmas and see a live nativity.  £5 to visit Santa pre-book or £6 on the day.  Free entry for the main event.

Christmas Fair - Hunsbury Library
30th November 11am to 4pm Festive magic, Christmas craft corner, choir, stalls and food & drink.

Christmas Market - Spinney Hill Pub
1st December 12pm to 5pm Santa's grotto, festive stalls, roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate stand, mulled wine, kids actitivites

Christmas Fair - Brampton Halt
16th to 18th November 11am to 4pm  Local traders, BBQ and mulled wine.  Free entry raffle in aid of Cynthia Spencer.

Christmas Fair - Kings Park
30th November & 1st December 11am to 5pm  Free entry over 100 stalls, bouncy castle, Christmas carols & Santa is visiting.  Free parking at Nationwide a short walk away.

Christmas Craft Fair - The Boathouse White Mills Marina
15th December 10am to 4pm  local traders and food & drink.

Christmas at St Luke's
16th November 11am to 4pm lots of stalls, food & drink, Santa's grotto and festive music.

Christmas Shopping Evening - Castle Ashby Shopping Yard
18th December  to 10pm grab some last minute gifts from some lovely traders.

Holdenby House Festive Gift Fair 2019
9th & 10th November 10am to 5pm.  Father Christmas, lots of stalls, falconery display, choir, food & drink,  £6 adult and £5 child.

Christmas at Waddesdon
16th November to 5th Janaury. Lights, stalls, decorations, food & drink.  Prices vary depending on if you have a National Trust card & want to enter the house.


Children's Christmas Party - Potz Ceramic Studio Billing Garden Centre
20th December 6.30 to 8.30pm Visit from Santa, decorate a ceramic project & have a Christmas jumper competition.  £15 per person.

Children's Christmas Party - Moulton Community Centre
21st December 6.30 to 8pm.  £7.95 children and £1.45 adults under 2's free. Prizes, party games and an appearance from Santa.

Children's Christmas Party - Wootton Club
21st December 3 to 5pm  aimed at children 3 to 11 years old you need to register to attend.  Disco, party games and prizes.

Children's Christmas Party - Spinney Hill Pub
Sunday 15th December 12pm to 2pm £2 per child fun, games and music.

Magical Christmas Experience - Wootton Community Centre
1st December 12pm to 4pm 1 hour sessions, 6 Christmas activities £10 per child.  Santa visit, crafts, story time. Pre book

Breakfast with Santa & his Donkeys - The Sunnyside Pub
15th December 9am to 3pm.  £7 per child which includes breakfast, meeting Santa, a gift and a ride on a donkey. Donkeys available 10am to 2pm.  Each sitting on the hour.

Breakfast with Santa - Yeoman of England NN4 6LP
14th December 10am to 12. Breakfast & a chance to have a chat with Santa who will collect your Christmas letter.

Breakfast with Santa - The Collingtree NN4 0UE
£5 per child which includes breakfast, a gift from Santa.  Booking only event.

Breakfast with Santa - The Hart NN5 6NU
9am to 11am.  Cooked or continental breakfast & a visit to Father Christmas.  Adults breakfast also available.  Limited places.

Breakfast with Santa - Castello Lounge NN8 1AN
9.30 to 10.30am  Santa will arrive with his elf.  Breakfast, gift & photo opportunity. Tickets must be purchased from the lounge prior to the date & children's breakfast pre-ordered.

Breakfast with Santa - Bell Plantation Garden Centre NN12 6GX
7th & 14th December 8am to 9.30am.  Homemade tea or breakfast, small gift, visit from Santa and story time.  Website currently under development so call 01327 354126 for tickets.

Breakfast with Santa - Whilton Locks Garden Village NN11 2NH
8 dates available between 7th and 24th December.  Santa, gift, breakfast (vegetarian & vegan available - full menu on their website)  £9.99 per child and adult breakfasts are between £9.99 and £13.99.  Children must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Breakfast with Santa - Trading Post NN15 7RH
8th December 9 to 11am.  Small cooked breakfast with toast & squash, gift and some crafts & carol singing.  Must book at The Trading Post or by phone with full parent.  Parents can order breakfast from the bar.

Breakfast with Santa - Heart of England NN7 4QD
14th & 15th December 8 to 10am £6 per child.  Family ticket 2 adults, 2 children £20.  Classic breakfast & veggie option, Santa visit & chocolate treat.  Pre book only 01327 340335 & speak to Penny or Ross.

Elf Door Hunt - Beckets Park
8th December

Christmas Parade - Weston Favell Shopping Centre
16th November 11am to 4pm entertainment from 11am, parade at 1pm and grotto opens at 1.30pm


Christmas Lights Switch On - Northampton
23rd November 2 to 5pm  fun, music and appearances from cast of Pippi Longstocking, Jack & the Beanstalk and Peppa & George pig!

Christmas Lights Switch On - Wellingborough
23rd November 2.30 to 6pm  lights on at 5.30 guest appearance from Natasha Hamilton.

Christmas Lights Switch On - Raunds
24th November 2 to 6.30pm  

Christmas Lights Switch On - Kettering 
28th November 4 to 8pm with special guest Will Mellor.  Stars of the panto, food stalls, santa sleigh, music & more.

Christmas Lights Switch On - Weedon Heart of the Shires Shopping Village
30th November 11am to 4pm Free Frozen fun with special guests Elsa & Anna, elf hunt, live singing and switch on at 3pm.

Christmas Sparkle Switch On - Higham Ferrers Market Square
23rd November 11am to 6pm Victorian themed Christmas event with fun fair rides, continental market, Santa, food and drink. They encourage people to walk or use public transport to avoid congestion. Christmas light switch on 5pm.

Hollowood Road Charity Christmas Lights from 1st December 5pm to 10pm for the whole month.

***I have included as many details as possible.  Most have a Facebook page if you need more info or contact details for specific events.  Please check before heading out as sometimes events are cancelled or changed***