Visiting a reindeer farm: Five obligatory awful December days out for families

CHRISTMAS is very near, which means you’ll end up being forced into at least one of these hideous activities this week:

Ice skating

Want to demonstrate your numerous physical shortcomings to a crowd of laughing strangers? Then go to your local pop-up ice skating rink. Or maybe just watch from the side, otherwise you risk partaking in that other terrible winter activity: a 36-hour wait in A&E.

Visiting a reindeer farm

Enjoy getting up at 6.30am to drive your kids 150 miles to see a depressed Arctic animal trapped on a dodgy-looking farm in Essex, taking a dump near a Christmas tree. The children are traumatised by how sad Rudolph looks and how lonely he is without any other animal friends, and need to be placated with Haribo all the way home.

Christmas market

If you enjoy buying horribly expensive hot dogs from grumpy migrant workers in wooden huts then eating them in drizzle, you’ll love a Christmas market. After consuming your suspicious sausage, you can trail around browsing overpriced, useless tat before one of your kids needs a piss and you realise there are no bathroom facilities in this twee hellhole.

Visit to Santa’s grotto

In your imagination, your child will be overawed by the special magic of being in the presence of Santa. In reality, they will be puzzled as to why you’ve taken them to meet a pensioner wearing a red suit in a gazebo in a Dobbies car park, rather than the North Pole.

Going to the panto

What’s Christmas for if not spending north of £100 on tickets for you and your family to see a former Emmerdale cast member shout innuendo and puns for two hours, accompanied by awful Christmassy versions of recent pop songs? At least the theatre will have a bar, where you can begrudgingly spend £8 on a pint to numb the pain.

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Six places where it's not f**king Christmas

THERE remain a few locations in this world where the season of goodwill has not yet claimed dominion. Go to these locations when you need a f**king break:

Any comic shop

They don’t put on Christmas music in the comic shop. The anime fanatics working there don’t don Santa hats. One of the most unpleasant high street retail experiences for 11 months of the year is a haven away from enforced Yuletide joy in December. But don’t buy anything. That’s how they get you.

The Chinese restaurant

Indian restaurants string up a bit of tinsel as an insulting nod to their former colonisers’ half-hearted religious beliefs. Chinese restaurants couldn’t give a f**k. They barely even consider Britain a valid culture, so they’re not about to acknowledge a festival as recent as 2,023 years old.

The loft

All the decorations have been removed and strewn about downstairs, so the loft is 100 per cent Christmas-free. Take a chair up there, sit and enjoy a cup of tea without any dickhead pushing a cup of mulled wine into your hands or putting The Christmas Chronicles on. Heaven.

The darkroom at a gay club

There’s the kind of frivolous homosexuality which enjoys Mariah Carey and light-up reindeer antlers, and then there’s the darkroom where homosexuality gets serious. For the price of a certain amount of physical interaction, all risk of being dragged into a wooden market selling German gingerbread hearts is eliminated.

A plumbing supplies store

Or anywhere catering chiefly to the building trade where they’re selling to men working outside in sub-zero temperatures and pissed off about it. Your sewerage pipe doesn’t know or care it’s Christmas, and neither do the men fixing it. Browse the 5/8in wrenches and revel in the lack of seasonal cheer.

A Kingdom Hall

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t acknowledge a pagan festival rebadged by Christians to ride a midwinter wave of popularity. They do still discuss the Bible, but that’s got pretty much no connection to the modern commercial Christmas so pay it no mind and sit back. Christmas is literally banned here. You’ll love it.