Katie Holland: Santa Claus is coming to town – on a speedboat in scuba gear

Are we there yet? Santa has gone and got himself a life

'Tis the season to be jolly, so let's get down to business. Just for a moment, forget all talk of austerity and think only happy thoughts – the kids will love you for it. As if to compensate for all the bad stuff, this year there are more ways than ever to keep them feeling truly hysterical throughout the festive season.

For a start, Father Christmas is working overtime – and he's popping up in the oddest of places. No longer content to sit in a corner of your local department store, Santa has gone and got himself a life. You can now find him scuba diving in Cheshire (blueplanet aquarium.com), where he's braving shark-infested waters to deliver his gifts; cruising on Windermere (winder mere-lakecruises.co.uk); and hitting the snowy slopes of Hemel Hempstead (thesnowcentre.com). In London, he appears to have morphed into a penguin and renamed himself Father Fishmas (visitsealife.com).

But the trip my children are most excited about is the Father Christmas rib ride. Take the family whizzing down the Thames at 35 knots, accompanied by Santa's little helpers, festive tales, and carols serenading you all the way. The Jingle Bell Blast departs today from the London Eye. You'll have to get your skates on – all other dates are sold out (020-7928 8933; londonribvoyages.com;£32.50 for adults, £19.50 for children).

For those who prefer their kids to have a more authentic Christmas experience, why not treat them to an overnight stay in a stable? This year, Bethlehem has come to Brighton, where you can now book your very own "stable-cation". Accommodation comes complete with shepherds' outfits, a straw bed, a manger, and a resident donkey – and the owners have added a touch of mood lighting, heating and Wi-Fi just to keep you comfortable. What's more, a stay here helps to raise money for leukaemia and lymphoma research. See home-renting website wimdu.co.uk for details. Stays cost £12 per night.

If this has made you come over all "bah, humbug", then I have just the thing: a family day out at an alternative Christmas venue. The London Dungeon is running a Satan's grotto, where you can sing along to alternative Christmas carols (020-7403 7221; thedungeons.com; £14.50 for adults, £10.95 for children). Meanwhile, Ebenezer Scrooge is taking up residence from 27 December to 1 January at the Museum of London Docklands (020-7001 9844; museumin docklands.org.uk; free admission). You and your brood can exchange moans and groans with the biggest Christmas grump of them all – and it costs just £5 to meet him.

k.holland@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk