Christmas arrived at Alton Towers Resort this weekend with the first of this year’s Festive Day Out dates. TowersTimes takes a look at the seasonal delights on offer, which have been adapted to comply with current coronavirus restrictions.

With the announcement that Staffordshire would be subject to Tier 3 restrictions from 2nd December through to at least the 16th December, the Resort confirmed that the first few weekends of Santa’s Sleepover dates would not go ahead as planned whilst their hotels were required to remain closed. It was announced that instead guests from the local area would be able to visit just for the day with a selection of outdoor rides opening, along with a number of festive attractions to experience.

Following on from the introduction of the concept at Scarefest, once again guests are able to enjoy the Resort’s famous gardens with dramatic lighting, themed audio and a festive atmosphere. Gardens Light Walk: Twinkling Stars opens from 4pm each day, and becomes increasingly spectacular as darkness falls. Keen-eyed guests may even be able to spot Santa flying past on his sleigh as they explore the grounds!

A new addition to the Resort’s Christmas offering this year is the Garden Lantern Trail. Opening from 4pm, this Yuletide trail features festive, fairytale-themed scenes that also include actors to fully bring them to life. After initially going to be exclusive to short break guests, day visitors are currently able to experience the attraction on dates through to 13th December. Whether this will continue to be the case is expected to depend on what Tier Staffordshire is classified in from 16th December, and the impact this has on subsequent Santa’s Sleepover and Festive Break dates.

Of course a Festive Day Out wouldn’t be complete without meeting Santa and his Elves. This year he remains socially distanced behind a Perspex screen, however the magical charm continues with each child receiving a warm welcome and an Alton Towers branded teddy bear. Grottos can be found at Mistletoe Lane in CBeebies Land or Elf Avenue in Mutiny Bay, and a timeslot should be booked for one of these prior to visiting. Guests over the age of 11 are required to wear a face mask whilst visiting Santa.

In Fountain Square, an outdoor stage is home to periodic performances from ‘The Towers Musical Players’ who sing a variety of well-loved Christmas tunes. Unfortunately, the planned pantomime of ‘Robin Hood’ has been unable to go ahead as a result of the restrictions in place. There is also roaming entertainment to enjoy in the form of Carol Singers, Elves and more.

A range of outdoor family rides feature in the line-up, including those in CBeebies Land, select attractions in Mutiny Bay, and Spinball Whizzer, which are all open until 7:30pm. The spooks of Haunted Hollow have also been given a festive makeover with decorations and some alternative audio that is more in keeping with the season!

There are a number of food and beverage outlets open around the theme park for takeaway refreshments. Stalls seen at this year’s Oktoberfest and Scarefest events have also been set up in Fountain Square and the nearby area of the Gardens, serving a range of Christmas treats and snacks. It should be noted that payment is by card only at all these locations.

Finally, Towers Trading is open with the theme park until 8pm for guests to do some Christmas shopping. As well as normal merchandise being available, there are two seasonal pin badges (priced at £4.50 each) and a selection of Christmas plushies.

The theme park will open for Festive Days Out on 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 18th – 23rd and 27th December – 3rd January. Tickets are priced at £24 for adults, £15 for children (aged 3-12), and £12.50 for Alton Towers Season Passholders and Merlin Annual Passholders. Twinkling Stars Tickets, which do not include a visit to Santa’s Grotto, are priced at £18 for adults, £15 for children, and £10 for passholders.

Please note that whilst Staffordshire remains in Tier 3, the Resort are asking that only guests from the local area visit. The Resort are due to review their operations in line with the next Government update of COVID restrictions on 16th December, which is expected to include an update on whether the remaining Santa’s Sleepover and Festive Breaks dates on 17th – 23rd and 27th December – 3rd January can proceed as planned.

Do you have a festive visit to the Resort planned? Make sure you share your thoughts over on the Attraction Source Forum.