Top Picks For Autism Friendly Christmas Events 2023
The need for Autism friendly Christmas events is becoming better recognised every year, with venues having a greater understanding of sensory needs and what works better for children with autism at Christmas. Avoiding queues, dimmed lights, quieter music and fewer crowds are just a few of the things parents of children with autism look for when attending events at Christmas. The best place to find out about these events is usually online or via word of mouth from other parent carers.
If you know of a place that doesn’t offer an autism-friendly session, it is always worthwhile approaching them and letting them know of the benefits of this and what it would mean to your family and others. There are so many events over the UK this year that are sensory-friendly, that we couldn’t possibly name them all. But here are a few that you might want to consider attending if they are located near you.
Autism-Friendly Christmas Events in England
Victorian Santa’s Grotto at the Museum of London Docklands (London) – each morning, children with autism can attend to meet Santa in a quiet, calm and relaxed environment from the 3rd to 23rd December. Please check availability online and book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Winter Funland at Intu Trafford Centre (Manchester) & NEC (Birmingham) – The largest indoor winter wonderland has a sensory-friendly session, complete with a quiet space to chill out if things become too overwhelming.
Croxteth Hall T’was the night before Christmas (Liverpool) – an interactive journey through Croxteth Hall meeting characters along the way and the big man himself, Santa. Relaxed sessions are available for pre-booking.
Birmingham Hippodrome (Birmingham) – The Hippodrome in Birmingham has several relaxed performances this year of ‘Dear Santa’, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and ‘Dear Zoo Live!’ Attendees are welcome to walk around the auditorium and make noise throughout and certain aspects of the performance are adapted to suit the audience.
The Eden Project – Meet Father Christmas (Cornwall) – A chance to meet Father Christmas and leave with a storybook of Elfie the Elf’s adventures and a chocolate treat. There are relaxed sessions available with a more informal experience for those with sensory needs.
Lotherton Hall – The Christmas Experience (Leeds) – This experience offers a relaxed visit to see Santa as well as meeting Mrs Claus to decorate gingerbread.
Autism-Friendly Christmas Events in Scotland
Kings Theatre – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Glasgow) – A relaxed performance of this festive panto is on Thursday, 14th December and can be booked online.
Five Sisters Zoo Illuminations (Edinburgh) – The zoo's Christmas illuminations are back with a relaxed session for children with autism and sensory needs. You must book in advance to avoid disappointment.
The MacRobert Centre – Aladdin (Stirling) – Bring your child to see Aladdin at the MacRobert Centre in Stirling, which offers an accessible experience and a Changing Places toilet. If you are after something for the younger ones, we recommend the Eric the Elf performance which not only offers a relaxed session, but they have a BSL option too.
M&D’s Believe in Santa (Motherwell) - A festive story, a visit to see Santa, a visit to his workshop and a ride on a carousel are just part of this experience. Bookings are available for children with additional support needs in mind.
Autism-Friendly Christmas Events in Wales
Christmas at Bute Park (Cardiff) – Relaxed sessions available for children with autism, experience a Christmas village and beautifully lit trail.
Autism-Friendly Christmas Events in Northern Ireland
The Millennium Forum – Jack and the Beanstalk (Derry) – A chance to watch the pantomime with accessible performances available.