Snow, ice, fire and steam - some Christmas days out

The Kelpies are the venue for the spectacular Fire and Light on New Year's Day

The Kelpies are the venue for the spectacular Fire and Light on New Year's Day

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There are only so many chipolatas, mince pies and chocolates a person can eat.

And there are only so many festive specials you can watch on television – even if Bruce Forsyth has retired.

If you have children, there comes a point when you have no choice but to prise the XBox controls out of their hands and get out of the house to do something. Anything.

The good news is that there is no shortage of things to do within a short distance, whether you’re in a ‘what the heck, it’s Christmas’ mood or have a ‘jings, the credit card bill’s going to hurt’ feeling.

So, here’s a few ideas to ensure your festive season packs a bit of a punch.

Three festive

1. Fire it up

Fire has been cheering long, dark winter nights since long before supermarkets started selling flashing Rudolph noses.

Falkirk’s Helix Park is celebrating this ancient tradition on New Year’s Day with Fire and Light, which uses ... well, fire and light to spectacularly reconnect with the past.

Say goodbye to evil spirits and get a bit of luck for the year ahead.

Visit www.thehelix.co.uk for tickets and information.

2. Steaming ahead

Far be it from us to suggest that the New Year is a time to get steaming – but that’s no bad thing at the historic Bo’ness and Kinneil Steam Railway, which runs Black Bun specials on December 30 and 31.

With a hot drink and a bit of black bun as you glide nostalgically along, it’s a treat that will appeal to all ages.

There’s also a Winter Diesel Gala on January 2 and 3.

Visit www.bkrailway.co.uk for prices and times.

3. Ice, ice, baby

One of the loveliest sights at Christmas is the outdoor skating rinks that pop up. Glasgow’s ice melts on December 31, while Edinburgh packs its skates up in January

But if you want to keep things on ice, M&D’s outdoor skating rink is open until February 14.

It’s part of Santa’s Magical Wonderland until December 24. Opening times vary.

Visit scotlandsthemepark.com/ for details.

Three indoors

1. Irn Bru Carnival

As Christmassy as Cliff Richard’s greatest hits, all you need to know is that this is Europe’s biggest indoor funfair.

Held in Glasgow’s SECC, that’s one day of the holidays sorted. Visit www.irnbrucarnival.co.uk for tickets and details.

2. Snow fun

The only thing that gets children more excited than a visit from you-know-who is the prospect of fresh snow.

Sadly, it will probably appear just as they return to school. Problem solved at Snow Factor in Braehead, which offers half hour sledging sessions, plus, of course, skiing, tubing and snowboarding for older, more adventurous types.

Taking the kids is, of course, optional.

It’s also one of the few attractions open on New Year’s Day, but booking is a must.

Visit www.snowfactor.com for more information.

3. Ice, ice, baby

One of the loveliest sights at Christmas is the outdoor skating rinks that pop up. Glasgow’s ice melts on December 31, while Edinburgh packs its skates up in January. But if you want to keep things on ice, M&D’s outdoor skating rink is open until February 14.

It’s part of Santa’s Magical Wonderland until December 24. Opening times vary.

Visit scotlandsthemepark.com/ for details.

Three free

1. Travel in time

For a day out that suits ages 0-108, Glasgow’s Riverside Transport Museum is hard to beat, though it does face stiff competition from nearby Kelvingrove Art Galleries and Museum.

They are both free and brilliant for a winter wander.

Visit www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums.

2. Country perks

Everybody has their favourite country park but Beecraigs near Linlithgow is lovely, particularly with its deer park.

Okay, they’re not reindeer but you can use a little imagination.

Palacerigg in Cumbernauld is also a great favourite with children, with its animals and treetop walkway.

Don’t forget the wellies and wrap up warm. Go on, you’ll feel better for it. Then you can finish the chocolates.

Visit www.westlothian.gov.uk/beecraigs and www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/palacerigg.

3. Glass act

If you want the great outdoors but really can’t bear the miserable weather, why not compromise?

The glass houses in the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow offer a fabulous breath of tropical air, and at this time of year are filled with spectacular colour.

And they are free, so what’s not to like?

Visit www.glasgowbotanicgardens.com.