Here’s how you can still enjoy the magic of Christmas without breaking the bank

A recent YouGov poll has revealed that 40% of parents have said goodbye to their usual festive outings, as the cost-of-living crisis forces families up and down the country to tighten their purse strings this Christmas.

According to the Bank of England, the average household spends £2,500 monthly, with that total rising by more than £700 in December. While this news comes as no surprise, the expensive month presents new challenges as kids break up for their final holiday of the calendar year.

For those worried about keeping little ones entertained while keeping costs low, Bewl Water in Lamberhurst has eased the burden of expensive Christmas activities by opening a new attraction that won’t cost you a penny.

The reservoir, which is the largest body of fresh water in the South East, kicked off the festivities in November. The Magical Christmas Elf Trail is free to enjoy and due to popular demand, has had its open dates extended until January 3, 2023.

Parents and their children can collect a map from the Waterfront Café, before exploring the trail where they will need to search for hidden clues, unscramble the magical code and find the missing Head Elf.

For those who succeed, Bewl Water is giving away a seasonal treat back at the café, which is also free for each child participating.

No bookings are required and for families looking to capture those priceless moments, festive selfie frames have been placed around the route.

“It’s been fantastic to see so many children enjoy The Magical Christmas Elf Trail,” Activities Manager Lani Fogarty told the Times.

“We’ve had such great feedback, so it was only right to keep the trail open after Christmas, too.”

In addition to The Magical Christmas Elf Trail, which offers stunning views of the estate, children can also enter the free colouring competition.

In the bid to design next year’s Head Elf, children will need to show off their best colouring skills and hand in their creations at the Waterfront Café by December 28, where the winner will be announced via social media (@BewlWater).

The festive activities at Bewl such as the Elf Trail have inspired Bewl’s visitors to take part in its annual photography competition.

Best of Bewl encourages people to get outside and embrace their natural surroundings.

Spanning 800 acres, Bewl Water has been taking entries throughout autumn via social media (@BewlWater), which sees amateur and professional photographers capture everything from The Magical Elf Trail to the beautiful waters.

The winner will be contacted today (December 21) and receive an annual parking pass worth over £300, but for those still wanting to take part, Bewl is opening the competition once more for winter entries.

Bewl is privately owned by Southern Water, but leased to Bewl Events & Waterpark, part of the group that runs several businesses in Tunbridge Wells, including One Media, publisher of the Times.

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