We love going to Alice Holt Forest and have enjoyed picnics there as well as the Gruffalo Trail and just a general wander and play but yesterday we went there for something completely different – to meet Father Christmas!
Neither LP or Little Man have met Father Christmas before, we wanted to wait until LP would really understand Christmas and I’m glad that LP and Little Man could share this ‘first’ together. We looked at a lot of local Christmas experiences and most seemed really overpriced but Alice Holt Winter Woodland was £19 for anyone over 18 months, so we paid for LP and didn’t worry about getting Little Man a ticket as we thought he wouldn’t really know what was going on anyway – and didn’t need the present. Included in the admission price are as many adults as you like, a gift for the child and a gingerbread man and warm juice drink afterwards.
We had an 11am timeslot and arrived on time, waiting outside the GoApe hut until it was time to go in. We were rounded up by a couple of elves and led down a woodland path that had been decorated with lights and various Christmas decorations. It wasn’t the most magical of walks but the children loved looking at everything and the whole experience was aimed at them so it was lovely.
We then had a chance to look at reindeer and climb on a wooden sleigh. This would have been perfect had it not been for rude parents and grandparents pushing in the way of anyone queuing and really spoiling it for everyone. Sadly, the only downside to experiences like this are usually the other people!
We were then led into a yurt tent to play a part in a play where we went in search of Father Christmas. This was very basic but very child friendly and the kids loved it. LP thought she was actually on her way to Lapland and Little Man just loved being able to stomp and clap!
After this we had a chance to make some festive crafts – I was pleased to see they were Baker Ross packs so really good quality. We were then taken out to see Santa one family at a time. During the crafting session LP needed the toilet and this is the only place where Alice Holt Winter Woodland could have improved – the only toilets were the other side of the car park from where we were, a 10 minute ish walk for little legs. Just the addition of a portaloo would have been really appreciated especially for something aimed at children.
After the crafts we were led to another yurt where Santa was. This was very compact with just Santa, a tree, a sack of presents and enough room for the four of us to stand but it was nice and intimate – it felt like it was just us and Father Christmas. I know at other places it can feel like you’re being rushed or that other people were waiting but for us it felt like Father Christmas had all the time in the world for us.
Santa was lovely. He involved both children, wrote in his book which gifts they would like and their ages, spoke to them about the magic key and really, genuinely seemed like he cared. It was a really nice experience. Both Little Man and LP had a present and we had a chance to take some photos and then an elf came to lead us back out to the reindeer.
At this point we had a moment to feed the reindeer and climb back on the wooden sleigh before heading off to get our drink and gingerbread man. The whole experience was fantastic and considering we hadn’t paid for Little Man to participate he was as involved as LP had been and we all really loved the Alice Holt Winter Woodland. For me, if there had been a portaloo then I wouldn’t have been able to fault the event and it was well worth £19.
LP is now very excited for Christmas and knows that Father Christmas will be using his magic key to deliver our presents on Christmas Eve. I really cannot wait for Christmas and am looking forward to booking to see Santa again next year.
Disclosure: We paid for our ticket to Alice Holt Winter Woodland and haven’t been compensated in any way for this post or asked to write this review. All opinions are my own.