Last week we were invited to take the children to the opening night of Christmas at Marwell Wildlife. Santa having skydived into the park earlier in the day he was in residence at the house and ready for visitors.
We visited after the park had closed and at five o’clock it was already dark. Fairy lights lit our way to the entrance where we alighted the Gingerbread Express tractor train. We rode through the park past sleeping animals to Marwell’s beautiful house which was lit up for the occasion.
We entered through the igloo where we were given mince pies and mulled wine (just the adults of course). Once everyone had gathered it was time to visit Mrs Claus. Mrs Claus gave a dramatic telling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves with the aid of a puppet Snow White and a few props. The children sat on cushions in the front and you could have heard a pin drop.
Next came gingerbread decorating in the rather splendid surroundings of the library. All of the children sat on stools around a long table wearing aprons and chef’s hats – it was cute as a button. Using icing and smarties they decorated gingerbread snowmen and there were bags on hand to take their handiwork home in.
Finally it was time to meet the big man himself. Each family was taken through separately and the distraction of gingerbread decorating (and nibbling) meant no-one felt like they were waiting long.
Santa was, as you’d expect, charming. He was very welcoming and spoke to the children gently. They were in awe! Each child was given a special gift and left with a huge smile on their face. Before we went there was a chance to have your photo taken with a giant penguin, get your face painted or take part in the fund raising raffle.
The whole experience was what it promised: magical. Our family and the others in our group were all giddy with the joy of it all (not just because of the mulled wine!). It’s a lovely way to start the festive season and has all the elements of a truly memorable experience.
What you need to know:
- Pushchairs and prams need to be left outside. If you are taking a non-walker bring your sling along to use inside the house.
- There is a loo in the entrance igloo – make sure you get there with enough time to pay a visit as there could be a queue.
- Entrance to the park is included in the ticket price for daytime visitors but if, like us, you go after the park is closed you do not get park entrance on the day included, you get a ticket to return another day valid until 31/03/12.
- Before you leave the house you can have your face painted or buy lucky dip raffle tickets (we did and had two winners) both carry an extra charge.
Ticket prices are: Â£19.50 for children 3 & over and adults, Â£9.50 for children aged 12 months & under three and Â£5 for babies under 12 months.
Christmas at Marwell is open daily until December 24th and runs from 10:30 in the morning in 45 minute slots with evening slots 4:15 – 5:45pm.