"Tired of buying your nearest and dearest socks and scents? Give them a present to remember this year, as Explorer goes in search of the best gift experiences around..."

Hit the slopes!

Whether you're a seasoned skier or a nervous beginner, winter is a fantastic time to try your hand at skiing. However, as generous as you might feel, it could be a tad expensive to whisk loved ones off for an afternoon on the Alps, so why not send them to an indoor snow dome instead? It doesn't even need to be skiing - they could try sledging and snowboarding or tubing and airboarding, both of which involve whizzing down the slopes on inflatables. You'll find Chill Factore in Manchester and SNO!zone in Glasgow.

Best for: Sporty types with the need for speed

How much: Prices vary depending on activity

Go by train: Manchester Piccadilly (take bus route X50 or 250 from Piccadilly Gardens bus station to The Trafford Centre); Glasgow Central (take bus route X7 from Waterloo Street to Braehead Shopping Centre)

Info: chillfactore.com, snozoneuk.com

Shop like the stars!

Know someone who deserves a gold medal in high-street hiking? Treat them to the ultimate in celebrity luxury - a session with a personal shopper at House of Fraser, complete with mini-makeover, style consultation, goody bag and £200 in vouchers to spend on the day. Not a cheap option, but it will be sure to have fashionista friends turning green with envy...

Best for: Stylish types who love to shop

How much: £235 (includes £200 in vouchers)

Go by train: Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds


Take a walk on the wild side

For the animal-lover in your life, no gift could be more exciting than a behind-the-scenes experience at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, the walk-through safari park near Doncaster. Kids can seize the opportunity to be a junior ranger for the day, helping to prepare food for the animals and getting up close and personal with some of the park's friendlier creatures. Adults are well catered for, too, with a choice of activities, from VIP tours to shadowing rangers. There's even the Big Cats and Breakfast Experience when guests have the chance to help let the lions out into the reserves - a breathtaking way to start the day.

Best for: Animal-lovers of all ages

How much: Experiences range from £50-£150

Go by train: Doncaster

Info: yorkshirewildlifepark.co.uk

Get set, Go Ape!

Need something for someone with a sense of adventure? What could be better than sending them hurtling along zip wires over a reservoir? Go Ape! offers just that, and more adrenaline-inducing fun besides. Nestled away in the depths of the Lancashire countryside, Go Ape! is a high-octane, treetop assault course, with tightrope walks among leafy canopies and rope ladders galore. Perfect for adults (known as Gorillas) and kids (Baboons) alike, this is a day out to remember - and for those of a sensitive disposition, you're welcome to accompany your primates and watch safely from the forest floor. Tarzan, eat your heart out! 

Best for: Fun-loving types who don't suffer from vertigo!

How much: £30 for Gorillas, £20 for Baboons (10-17yrs)

Go by train: Chorley. 10-min taxi ride

Info: goape.co.uk

Adopt an artistic approach

For those who enjoy the finer things in life - ambling around the latest exhibitions, or marvelling at museum displays - why not give the gift of membership? ArtFund is an organisation that uses membership donations to secure great art for museums and galleries across the UK. Being a member also gets you a National Arts Pass - giving you free entry into numerous galleries and museums across the UK, including Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, Lancaster Maritime Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery. Members also get 50% off exhibitions at galleries, including Tate Liverpool, and the Scottish National Gallery.

Best for: Culture vultures

How much: Single membership starts at just £35

Info: artfund.org


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