Although the festive season can be somewhat taxing on mind and wallet, it can also be a lot of fun. Plenty of seasonal activities are inclusive and can be enjoyed by all. Here are a few ideas to get you into the Christmas spirit…
See the lights
Few things signify the approach of Christmas more than the glow of seasonal street lights. Even small towns and villages seem to have Christmas light displays these days – not to mention the jolly old souls that encrust their houses in twinkles for the pleasure of others. While some of the major ‘switch on’ ceremonies are ticketed, there are plenty that aren’t and are free to attend. Besides, once they’ve been switched on, the lights can be enjoyed by everyone right up until twelfth night in January and because most are on main shopping streets, accessibility and facilities are usually pretty good.
Some of the best displays are found in London. Oxford Street is usually the first to switch on (6 November 2018) followed by other big shopping areas including Regent Street and Carnaby Street.
Ice skating is fun for everyone, with more towns setting aside space for a seasonal ice rink – with plenty allowing wheelchair users onto the ice. The best thing about this is that it’s really difficult to fall over – and that applies to the skater that pushes you, too.
Some ice rinks will have dedicated wheelchair user sessions but that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy an ordinary session, although you may need to book in advance since some rinks limit the number of wheelchair users on the ice at once during everyday sessions.
Last year Cardiff became the first outdoor rink in the UK to receive access accreditation. Tickets for this year are available from:
or 0333 6663366.
See also, Somerset House, London:
Music is an essential part of Christmas. Few of us will not remember the words to at least a few Christmas carols and it’s perhaps that inclusivity that makes concerts or services so enduring. From the Royal Albert Hall, to the great cathedrals and local churches and schools, chances are there’s a carol event somewhere, for you to enjoy.
Many of these venues will have decent access since they are public buildings but it’s best to check if your local church has step-free access or disability friendly facilities.
See: MS Society, Carols by Candlelight,
St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, London.
Pantomime is a great Christmas tradition, especially if you’re looking for something interactive. Singing along and shouting out are all part of the fun. For people that prefer something calmer, there are other seasonal plays or ballets to enjoy.
Larger theatres will offer the best accessibility and include dedicated wheelchair spaces, hearing loops, signed performances and relaxed performances.
This year the Chickenshed Theatre Company presents A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, in Southgate, London. Chickenshed are renowned for utilising the talents of disabled actors in their performances.
See also: Cinderella at Manchester Opera House, starring Gareth Gates, Les Dennis and Corrie’s Connor McIntyre.
Christmas markets have become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s doubtful that anyone visits with the intention of doing any serious Christmas shopping but you’ll likely find trinkets and stocking fillers aplenty. Even so, some of the more established Christmas markets have become practically local tradition in their own right.
Expect crowds but also lashings of mulled wine and other scrumptious tastes and smells – and a fair bit of Christmas spirit.
Birmingham claims that its Frankfurt Christmas Market is the biggest ‘German Christmas market’ outside of Germany (or Austria).
St Nicholas’ Christmas Fair takes place in York’s ‘olde worlde’ streets every year.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
The grand old house makes a wonderful backdrop to the seasonal shopping.
Our regular columnist, Julie Andrews, gives us her season’s greetings and views on Christmas activities…
“I LOVE all things Christmas. From the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, the joy of Christmas carol services and the delightful ambiance of a German Christmas market, I am excited by all of it!
I don’t however relish the pushing and shoving that seems to be inevitable when you are under four foot tall on wheels. I have been bumped into, shoved aside and literally stood on by someone rushing to get a good seat at a show, using my lap for leverage. I do also get talked down to occasionally by shop assistants – and almost every Christmas, I am asked, right in my face, by a squeaky saccharine assistant if ‘I’m having a weeely good time this Chrissymas?’ Well, quite frankly, at those times, I’m not.
However, none of this will stop me enjoying the most special time of year. I simply avoid shops at busy times or where the rails or shelves are too close together. I like shops with automatic doors so I can make an easy getaway if things get too crowded – and I make certain that I get to the front of any carol singing or Christmas show, way ahead of time, or sit right out of the way, ensuring that I don’t get caught up in a scrum.
Lastly, I never let past difficulties affect my present-day enjoyment. Christmas is a time for great joy and there is room for everyone. And if all else fails, I’ve found that a sprig of holly on your wheelchair is amazing for gently reminding people that you’re there, if for some reason they forget.”