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Family-friendly things to do at Buckland Abbey

A child dressed in a crown and rainbow wings in the foreground watches another child and an adult run around
Family fun whatever the weather at Buckland Abbey | © Sophie Bolesworth

Whether it's a woodland adventure, an amazing story of life on the high seas or a tasty treat from the cafe, there's something for all the family to enjoy at Buckland Abbey.

Your visit at a glance

-Free entry for under 5s
-Baby changing facilities
-Step free routes around the garden - please be aware that most paths are gravelled or slightly uneven with slopes
-Pocket money gifts in the shop
-Children's lunches available in the cafe
-High chairs available in the cafe
-Some parts of the yellow estate route are suitable for robust pushchairs

Christmas tree decorated with traditional ornaments and a family in the background at Cragside, Northumberland
Magical memories this Christmas time | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Father Christmas

Father Christmas is unable to join us at Buckland Abbey this year as he's very busy up at the North Pole. Why not join us for festive storytelling with his elves instead?

Winter wonders

A Tudor Frost Fair

2 - 31 December, 10-4

You are invited to step back in time to the Tudor era and immerse yourself in our 'Frost Fair'. Find out about the history of these events, and wander through the frosty trees and icy décor used to recreate this magical time. The barn will be filled with trees and twinkling lights to create a beautiful display.

Choirs will perform in the Great Barn throughout December, and the Abbey will also be dressed for a very frosty Christmas for all to see.

Please note that this is a historical and Christmas tree display, all stalls will be displays and not have goods for sale.

Normal admission applies.

Christmas storytelling

9, 10, 19 and 21 December, 12 - 3pm

Join Father Christmas' elves for some festive storytelling on the top floor of the Abbey.

Normal admission applies - please check at Visitor Welcome for exact times. There is no need to book this event.

Christmas crafts with Naturemake

Sunday 17 and Thursday 21 December, 11-3

Join Naturemake to create your own magical festive elf houses or animals from natural materials.

No need to book.

Normal admission plus a fee for your choice of craft - please note that Naturemake can only accept cash.


Sunday 7 January, 1-4

Join Dartmoor Border Morris to scare away evil spirits in the orchard and ensure a good harvest this year at our Wassail - remember your pots and pans to make lots of noise. The event starts with a Mummer's play in the Great Barn, and will then process to the orchard for the Wassail itself.

Normal admission applies

To check opening times, please click here and scroll down to admissions.

What's great for...

Toddlers and preschoolers:

Visit the Barn and Abbey to admire all of the sparkly decorations and lights, or pop those splash suits on and head off on the yellow walk for a wintery walk. How many birds can you spot on your travels?

Primary aged kids:

Feeling crafty? Why not join in with the block printing or Naturemake workshops and make some magical festive souvenirs to take away or give as a special gift? Don't miss the storytelling sessions with our Christmas elves too (dates TBC).

Older children:

Learn more about Tudor Frost Fairs as you explore the Great Barn, and discover what life was like at the time when the Thames would freeze over the winter.

A child stands on wooden balance beams in the play area
Fun for all the family at Buckland's natural play area | © Steven De'Ath

Woodland closures

Please note that the red and blue walks are currently closed for woodland works. The yellow route and the play area remain open during normal property opening times.

The Natural Play Area

Newly reopened for summer 2023, the play area at the start of the red walk on Buckland's estate is a fantastic place for little adventurers to explore and let off steam.

Complete with stepping stones, balance beams, climbing logs and much more, all of the timber used in creating this brilliant playground has been reclaimed from fallen trees on the estate, and created by our amazing team of Ranger staff and volunteers.

Why not bring a picnic and enjoy the views across the Tavy Valley while you eat too?

The area can be used by children of all ages, although little ones might need a bit of help with some of the equipment and we would ask that children are never left unsupervised.

It's a bit tricky getting a buggy to the play area, so you might prefer to bring a baby carrier if you're planning to head up there on your visit, and please be aware that the nearest facilities are back at the main property.

Child pointing out den building activity - 50 things
How many of the 50 things have you completed? | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4 at Buckland Abbey

With hundreds of acres of woodland to explore, there are so many activities to try out at Buckland. Here are a few of our favourite ideas:

No.1 Get to know a tree

There are thousands of trees on the estate, including some awesome oaks, beautiful beeches and fabulous firs. Can you guess how old some of them might be, and imagine what stories they could tell?

No.6 Go welly wandering

Raining? No problem. Grab your wellies and splash through some puddles, or listen to the raindrops on the leaves overhead.

No.34 Discover wild animal clues

The woodland at Buckland is home to all kinds of wonderful wildlife. Can you look for footprints and listen for calls? Maybe if you are very lucky you'll even spot some of the beautiful animals and birds yourself.

No.48 Keep a nature diary

Now you've had an adventure, why not record your discoveries in a special notebook? You could draw what you have seen and heard, maybe even find a special leaf or stick to remind yourself of your amazing day?

The exterior of Abbot's tower at Buckland Abbey in the evening light

Discover more at Buckland Abbey

Find out when Buckland Abbey is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

A view of the south face of the Abbey from the lawn. Snow covers the grass and trees.

Visiting Buckland Abbey and Great Barn 

Explore the abbey which is part museum, part house, and filled with treasures. Step inside the medieval Great Barn: a tithe barn unchanged since it was built centuries ago.

Atmospheric woodland image of tree trunks with mist behind them

Buckland Abbey's estate 

There are no end of discoveries to be made while exploring the ancient woodland at Buckland Abbey. The grounds have more than eight centuries of history to uncover and colour-coded walks take in everything the Great North Wood has to offer.

Two large dogs on leads held by two people on a path at Lanhydrock, Cornwall, with grass and fallen autumn leaves beyond

Visiting Buckland Abbey with your dog 

Buckland Abbey is a one pawprint rated place. There are plenty of dog-friendly walks through the woodland and countryside to explore and dogs are welcome to relax in the Ox Yard Café.

A gardener in a green top hangs various coloured flowers from strings suspended against a white ceiling.

Buckland Abbey's gardens 

From beautiful blooms to bountiful harvests, the gardens at Buckland Abbey are full of colour and seasonal interest. Soak up the history of this special place as you admire the planting, or simply enjoy the peace and tranquillity as you sit a while on one of the benches.

Two visitors sit at a table in the cafe with cups of tea and cakes

Eating and shopping at Buckland Abbey 

Take a break at the Ox Yard Café, which serves tea, coffee, light lunches and sweet treats, before finding a special gift or souvenir in the National Trust shop, art galleries and second-hand bookshop.