Christmas themed events are coming thick and fast. It may seem like overkill, but many venues are pulling out the stops to put on some really special activities. (Then again, by the end of all this you may never be able to look a mince pie in the eye again.)

Christmas at the Zoo

London Zoo, Regent's Park Road, London (0171-449 6235) every weekend to 22 December. Special opening on Monday 23 December. Pre-book a half- hour slot between 10.30 and 3.30pm. Price includes access to the rest of the zoo. Adults, pounds 11; children, pounds 9.

At the children's zoo kids can meet Melchior the wise man (and the resident camels), introduce themselves to Santa's reserve reindeer, follow the shepherd with his sheep, or visit Isaac the Innkeeper with his stable of donkeys and ponies. Santa will be in his grotto doling out gifts and there will be mince pies, mulled wine and special hot drinks for children.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Wooloton Hall Natural History Museum, Wooloton Park, Nottingham NG8 2AE (0115 928 1333). 19-21 December, 10am-11.30 am and 1pm-2.30pm. Entrance to museum: adults, pounds 1.50 for adults; children, 75p; under-fives, free)

This annual celebration of Christmas is specifically for the under-fives. Activities include singing, storytelling and tree decorating. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Christmas family fun day

Memorial Hall, Northwich, Vale Royal, Cheshire. 11am-3pm today (01606 41430). Free. Father Christmas will be stopping off on his busy schedule to hand out chocolate coins and buttons at this festive open day thrown by the local council. Children's craft activities: making cards and crackers, decorating T-shirts and prettifying logs to decorate the Christmas table. School orchestras will play all day and the mayor will make a grand draw for charity. The council's cherry-picker will be on hand to give children a bird's-eye view of Northwich.

Winter Wonderland

Marwell Zoological Park, Winchester, Hampshire (01962-777407). Last spaces for Winter Wonderland available 19, 20 December. Wild Lights 16, 17 Dec. Adults, pounds 7.50; children, pounds 7.50; under-twos, pounds 5.50. Pre-booking essential.

Take children to a sparkling walk-through display of traditional and fantasy tableaux at Marwell Zoo, before perusing gift stalls, receiving a gift from Santa and greeting a few of his reindeer. Alternatively, take them along for an exciting evening visit to Wild Lights, to see illuminations in the park.

A Tudor Christmas

Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, near Banbury, Oxfordshire (01295-760205) today and tomorrow 10.30am-1pm and 2-4.30pm. Adults, pounds 4; children, pounds 2.

Visitors to Sulgrave Manor (home of George Washington's ancestors) will be met by the lord of the manor and his household in Tudor costume. The Great Hall will be decked with seasonal greenery and log fires will be burning. After a guided tour of the manor guests can scoff wassail and winter sweetmeats and learn about the customs and traditions of Christmas.

Christmas capers

Clive House Museum, Shrewsbury, Shropshire (01743-354 811) today, 10am- 3.30pm, pounds 2.

Get punch-drunk at Clive House Museum where families will be greeted by costumed attendants, and served coffee, mince pies and punch. Children can make their own cards and decorations, and the older ones may like to try their hand at decorating the Christmas cake.

Liese Spencer