The weather might be cold and blustery, but the only thing that will blow you away this new year’s weekend is the range of festive fun at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The 800-year-old attraction focuses on Portsmouth’s proud naval history and is the only place in the UK which showcases the country’s maritime past, present and future.
This weekend, it boasts extra entertainment for the whole family as they see life through a sailor’s eyes at Christmas time.
Simon Clabby, costume interpreter at the Mary Rose museum says: ‘It’s a chance to find out more about Portsmouth’s history with an exciting range of things to do.’
Visitors can shelter below decks and gaze out upon the battling waves on board HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, or journey through time at the Mary Rose museum, seeing fascinating artefacts.
At Action Stations, thrill-seeking children and adults can clamber up the UK’s tallest indoor climbing tower at more than 27 feet high. They can also ‘shoot’ missiles and fly in the replica helicopter cockpit.
On top of all these year-round activities, there are a couple of seasonal family treats until Sunday.
At the Mary Rose Museum, from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm daily, a festive family trail leads visitors through 19,000 artefacts, where they can work as a team to uncover quiz answers.
Simon says: ‘They can learn about objects that relate to Christmas such as the frankincense found on board, and seasonal games like Nine Men’s Morris, which is similar to chess and noughts and crosses. It encourages kids to look at the objects and engage with them.’
Also on until Sunday is the Tudor games and pastimes event, which includes hands-on activities for all the family to find out about Tudor life at sea and on dry land.
At HMS Warrior, there’s a detective-style hunt to track down lost slippers between 10am and 4.30pm each day.
The crew have hidden pictures of Victorian slippers all over the ship for families to find and count, with a gift for all who take part.
Melissa Gerbaldi, press officer at the Historic Dockyard explains: ‘It goes down really well with the children and encourages them to look more closely at the ship.
‘The aim is to make it fun for younger visitors.’
Meanwhile, there is fun for all ages in a special seasonal activity area for families on board HMS Warrior.
Once the lower deck mess and schoolroom for Warrior’s young officers, Warrior’s Gun Room hosts Christmas holiday activities including Victorian gifts, costumed role-play, toys, games, knot tying, colouring sheets and quiz sheets from 10.30am until 4.30pm daily.
Historic Dockyard tickets cost £21.50 for adults and £15.80 for children and allow admission all year round. Buy them online at historicdockyard.co.uk or go to the Visitor Centre at the Historic Dockyard.