UNTIL DECEMBER 12
Schoolchildren in the guise of footmen, maids, farm hands and aristocratic guests are invited to Croxteth Hall, Liverpool, to find out how cold Victorian houses could be, how dirty and physically demanding the work could be and how the butler ruled with a rod of iron. Activities include: Lord Sefton going off pheasant shooting, Lady Sefton planning her dinner party, a lesson with the governess and a servants' Christmas party with carols, a "new-fangled" Christmas tree and traditional games. Details: 0151 228 5311.
UNTIL JANUARY 1
A FINNISH CHRISTMAS
Through huge textile installations, the foyers of the Barbican Centre, London EC2, will be transformed into a Finnish winter wonderland as part of its Finnish music and arts festival. Visitors can contact Santa Claus in Lapland via a Link Cafe. Non-Finnish events include Johnny Morris reading The Snowman, Mad Hatter's Concerts with Alice and Santa Claus, and a Womad: Global Spirit weekend with a carnival procession and artistes including Nina Simone, the We Are Alive Kids (35 South African youngsters) and Waaberi from Somalia. Details: 0171 638 8891.
UNTIL JANUARY 10
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Orchard Theatre Company is taking this magical, musical adaptation of the popular fairy tale on tour through Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset. Details: 01271 373356371475.
UNTIL JANUARY 17
SOUTH BANK CHRISTMAS
A packed programme at the South Bank Centre, London SE1, includes carol concerts; Terry Wogan's Christmas Cracker with the BBC Concert Orchestra, December 15; Christmas Gala with Lesley Garrett, December 18; Victorian Christmas by Candlelight, December 21; and Hansel and Gretel, Humperdinck's children's opera, December 26,27,30 and January 1. The Royal Ballet is performing Les Patineurs, Tales of Beatrix Potter and Peter and the Wolf, December 23-January 3, and Cinderella, January 6-17. Details: 0171 960 4242.
NOVEMBER 29-JANUARY 17
Traditional family pantomime at Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Lancashire. Tickets from Pounds 8.50 adults, Pounds 5.25 concessions. Details: 0161 624 2829.
FEAST OF ST NICHOLAS
Religious education festival workshops for schools are running at St Mungo's Museum, Glasgow. Fee: Pounds 1.50 per head, free to Museum Education Service members. Details: 0141 287 27478.
Sisters don't come any uglier, apparently, than Iain Lauchlan and Will Brenton at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Tickets: Pounds 6-Pounds 14.50; school parties Pounds 5 per person. Details: 01203 553055.
The Theatre-in-Museum Company is presenting this show in a magically transformed Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagans, Cardiff, 6-9pm (except December 6, 2-6pm). Details: 01222 573500.
DECEMBER 3-JANUARY 8
The Ragged School Museum, Copperfield Road, London E3, is staging an exhibition on traditions surrounding the Christmas tree together with free children's workshops. These include: Christmas paper-making, December 7, 2-4pm; meet a Victorian Father Christmas, December 10,11,17,18, 3-5pm, Pounds 1 (includes cracker-making); and join a Victorian lesson, January 4, 2pm and 3.30pm, for children aged 6-12. Under eights must be accompanied. Details: 0181 980 6405.
L'ENFANCE DU CHRIST
Stephen Jackson, director of the BBC Symphony Chorus, will conduct Trinity College of Music's Sinfonia and Chamber Choir in this performance of Berlioz's masterpiece at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, 7.30pm. Tickets: Pounds 3-Pounds 9. Details: 0181 317 8687.
THE GINGERBREAD MAN
Can the Gingerbread Man help Herr Von Cuckoo get his voice back before the Big Ones throw the cuckoo clock in the bin? And can he escape the villainous Sleek the Mouse, who has a very sweet tooth? Find out at the Castle, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. This David Wood adventure is suitable for anyone aged three upwards. Tickets: Pounds 7, Pounds 5.50 concessions, Pounds 5 schools, teachers free. Details: 01933 270007.
DECEMBER 5-JANUARY 31
At Bristol Old Vic, follow the adventures of Widow Twankee, Aladdin, Wishee Washee, the evil Abanaza, Princess Jasmin and other characters in the Hawaangawawahaah mountains, Peking's municipal park and imperial prison and Widow Twankee's laundry and beautiful boudoir. Details: 0117 949 4901.
FROM DECEMBER 6
CHRISTMAS AT GREENWICH
A 17th-century frost fair will once again be recreated at the National Maritime Museum, London SE10, and costumed performers will celebrate a Stuart Christmas in the Queen's House, December 6-7. Activities for children aged seven upwards include: Christmas Restored sessions (starting December 18), at which Mistress Babington will tell stories about Christmas celebrations following Charles II's restoration; storytelling by King Frost (December 27,28,31, January 1-4); Magic Lantern shows (December 31, January 1); and stories, songs and activities about creatures living among icebergs with the Crowsnest Club, December 29,30. Details: 0181 858 4422.
A SWEDISH CHRISTMAS
To accompany its exhibition on Carl and Karin Larsson, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London SW7, is running family workshops on how to make decorations using stars, hearts, animals and the Tomten (a kindly gnome-like figure who delivers presents to Swedish children), 10.30am and 1pm. On December 13, they can make delicacies such as frosted cranberries and marzipan animals followed by decoration-making with the Activity Cart and a traditional St Lucia procession. Fee per workshop: Pounds 2.50, concessions available. Details: 0171 938 8638.
FESTIVE FUN AT TRINITY
Children can make a wild Chinese-style carnival mask at Trinity Arts Centre, 170 Gloucester Terrace, London W2, 2-4pm. Under sevens must be accompanied. Tickets: Pounds 4.50, Pounds 2.70 concessions. On December 12, 7.30pm, groups from Westminster schools, youth centres and other organisations will perform at a youth festival. Tickets: Pounds 1. Details: 0171 262 1629.
STARTING DECEMBER 18
THE MAGICAL MAZE
Acclaimed mathematician, Ian Stewart of Warwick University, is giving five Royal Institution Christmas lectures at 21 Albemarle Street, London W1, 3pm. Titles include: Snowflakes and Sunflowers (number tricks, clock arithmetic, calendars, flower petals); The Pattern of Tiny Feet (cycles, oscillators, synchronous fireflies, rhythms of animal movement); Outrageous Fortune (probability paradoxes, DNA fingerprints, confessions); and Fearful Symmetry (patterns in nature, slime mould spirals, kaleidoscopes). Fee per lecture: Pounds 14, Pounds 6 ages 11-16; or Pounds 54, Pounds 24 whole series. Bookings: 0171 409 2992; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org OPENING DECEMBER 27
The exploits of a highwayman and the music and tricks of London street characters are depicted in this 18th-century family show at the Museum of London, EC2, on selected dates, 1pm, 2pm and 3.15pm. Details: 0171 600 3699.