Normally I dont partake in any Christmas activities before December (other than buying gifts which I do mega early to avoid the craziness). However this year for the last 2 weekends I have done Christmassy stuff and it's actually been quite fun:)
A week ago Saturday I paid for a friend, myself and her 2 children to visit a local garden centre where they had a Santa experience set up.
You start off by checking in at a podium and then you write your letter to santa which can be posted at a small post box.
Then you get called in by some elves to the boarding gate to board your sleigh ride to lapland!
The sleigh ride is cute - it's a bunch of benches covered in furs with a large screen showing a film of how you fly into lapland - bubbles get blown through from the ceiling and the kids enjoyed it.
The sleigh unfortunately lands at the back of Santa's workshop and the elf village and the boiler isnt working so all the kids had to throw snow balls (white pompom balls) into the generator pipes to make steam to open the door. After a valiant effort the doors are finally opened and you head into the elves house.
The elves house is nicely decorated with a tree and lots of lights, there are little beds to sit/lay on, cuddly toys and 2 elves waiting for you. The elves teach you the rules of being an elf and then you learn their song (jingle bells). After they have finished training you in the way of the elves you head through another door into the enchanted woods where you have to spot magical and christmas creatures in the woods around you. Once you have found all the creatures the elf in the wood gives you your very own set of jingle bells and then you have made it in to see the big man himself!
Santas room is dark with lots of sparkly lights and a "log" fire. The kids all sit on cushions on the floor in front of him and he asks them some questions about what they have learnt before calling them up one by one by their name. The kids get time with Santa to tell him their Christmas wish list and time for their accompanying adults to take some pictures. Mrs Claus is also on hand with her camera to take pics too (which you can choose to buy if you want). Santa gives the kids a magical voucher that allows them to pick one toy from his toy shop and then you collect your qualified elf certificate and make your way back to reality via a rather dark tunnel lit with sparkly lights.
Once back in the real world you then get to head to the toy shop and pick out a gift and check out the pics taken by Mrs Claus before head out.
For November dates the experience cost £10 per child and £3 per adult and the whole experience lasted around 35 minutes. Numbers on each booking are limited and they were sold out. December dates cost slightly more at £12 per child.
The rage of toys available in the toy shop was really good and they had things there from baby up to 12/13 years old and included things like rattles/teethers, playdough, colouring set, magic set, toy cars/motorbikes, hair braiding, dolls, ponys, action figures and tills. Photos if you wanted them started at £5.99 for a basic one and then they had deals on for buying multiples or getting them in different formats e.g. in a bauble or a snow globe.
My friends 2 children (aged 8 and 4) both really enjoyed the experience and after we had finished we spent some time looking at all the lovely Christmas ornaments and then walking to the aquatic centre on site and looking at all the fish - they had a tank where you could go underneath and then put your head into a box in the tank, a nemo/dory set up plus lots of unusual and tropical fish which the kids loved. They also have a reptile centre on site so we did a quick wander in there to see the snakes, lizards and spiders before having a look around the pet shop - as it's so cold they only had guinea pigs in their little petting area and the guineas were hiding out in their house.
After spending Saturday at the experience I went back and did it all again with H and my sister :) H again loved the whole thing although I'm not sure Santa was too impressed. When he asked her what she would like for Christmas she said a dog, so he said would you like anything else? and she thought for a minute before saying yes a dog bed lol
|H was very pleased to post her letter to Santa - we may have exaggerated her good behaviour slightly hehe|
I think the Santa village and experience at Pugh's was brilliant and we will deffo be booking and going back next year...although I might not book out to go twice on the same weekend next time!