I feel like we’ve stepped into a magical Wonderland.
Each tree is covered in glistening snowflakes and strings of fairy lights line the path to the door of Lotherton Hall, nestled in middle of its large country estate.
I glance at the map and try to decide where we should head first - the Elf Village, or the secret fairy hideout, or perhaps the Twelve Days of Christmas Walk? ‘A Christmas Experience’ indeed.
Our two-year-old has talked about nothing but Santa the whole way here so we head to the Elf Village where a pair of jolly elves greet us and lead us, literally skipping, into their magical workshop.
The attention to detail inside is amazing. We take a seat at a workbench and Imogen joins the other children in making a bag of reindeer food - filled with oats and glittery goodness, then wrapped in brown material and decorated with boggly eyes and a jingle bell nose to look like a reindeer - for us to sprinkle on our front lawn on Christmas Eve. Next we help her fill in a postcard for Santa before we’re led through into Santa’s grotto and find the big man himself in his large fur-lined rocking chair.
He’s a delighful Santa, with impressive beard and a jolly pink cheeks, and he takes the time to chat with Immy about everything she’s looking forward to this festive season, before reading her a little story and then asking her what she’d like for Christmas. A lovely elf helper borrows my cameraphone and snaps pictures throughout, so we have plenty of fantastic images to remember our visit by.
After saying goodbye to Santa, we head for the Twelve Days of Christmas Walk. I’m pleased we’re wrapped up warm for the walk - which takes us on a decent semi-circle around the grounds - and looks beautiful, all lit up.
The walk is completely interactive and we take part in every exhibition as we find it - pulling the strings to help the Two Turtle Doves fly, saying ‘bonjour’ to the Three French Hens, walking through the Five Gold Rings tunnel, playing hook-a-duck with the Seven Swans a Swimming and helping the Nine Ladies to Dance. Fantastic.
We then take a quick stroll through the fairy hideout, listening to them all giggle as we pass through their tiny village, before heading back to the car.
We didn’t even make it into the house where visitors can dress up in Edwardian clothing for a family portrait, or try their hand at some crafts. I suppose we’ll just have to go back!
Visit The Christmad Experience for details of the experience, which runs until December 23.
Kelham Island’s Victorian Christmas Market
The 24th Victorian Christmas Market kicks off at Kelham Island Museum this weekend.
Reindeer will be landing in the heart of Kelham Island to greet you at the start of your Santa experience with a photo on Santa’s S’Elfie Sleigh.
Follow in the footsteps of Santa Industries Co. at their busiest time of year, and visit Blacksmith Forge, alight with traditional forgework demonstrations, mending a reindeer antler or shoe.
Help busy elves fulfil their decoration orders in Santa’s workshop, take pary in craft activities and write your own Christmas Wish Letter to Santa.
Enjoy a train ride, a Punch & Judy show, Victoria treats, live music and visit 120 market stalls at the event, which runs this Saturday from 10am to 7pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
REVIEW: Winter Wonderland
A funfair filled with vintage rides from the 30s and 40s, a huge outdoor ice rink and a visit to Santa’s Log Cabin are all on the menu at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet’s ‘Winter Wonderland,’ which runs until January 2 this festive season.
We headed to the outlet, out near York, this weekend and managed to combine all the fun the wonderland had to offer with a little Christmas shopping in the centre.
We bought a bunch of tokens to hit the Ghost Train and Brooklands Dodgems, tried our hand at hook-a-duck and took a spin on the Monorail. We called in at Santa and had our picture taken with the jolly old elf before heading to PapaKitchen, the Alpine-themed cafe complete with benches draped with cosy furs to enjoy some steaming hot chocolate and hot dogs.
Once we were warmed up, we pulled on some skates for the ice rink, which supplied pengiun ‘assistance’ for little ones, perfect to hold up our two-year-old (and my husband too, a little bit).
There isn’t tons to see and do here, but what is there is rather lovely, as long as you’re planning a little Christmas shopping too, and not just counting on the Wonderland to keep you busy all day.
Visit Yorkshire Winter Wonderland for details and tickets.
A few festive treats to try...
Experience a classic family Christmas at the Tropical Butterfly House this weekend with a magical sleigh ride, farm barn nativity, crafts in the elves’ workshop and a Santa’s grotto. Running Saturday and Sunday.
Enjoy An Audience with Father Christmas at Bolsover Castle this Saturday and Sunday.
Meet Father Christmas as he tells tales of Christmas past amidst the yuletide decorations. Pre-booking essential!
Head down to Ecclesall Woods for some free Christmas fun every weekend in December - there will craft activities, wreath making workshops, handbell ringing performances, and Christmas trees on sale.
A Christmas Carol, Brodsworth Hall, Doncaster
Brodsworth Hall is hosting a classic Christmas tale this weekend, as Scrooge meets the unusual Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come - but will he change his ways in time for Christmas?
The performance brings to life Dickens’ classic novel, making it accessible for young and old alike, so wrap up warm for this unique live experience held on Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 3pm at the Doncaster hall.
12 days of Christmas, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Immerse yourself in the festive season with the 12 days of Christmas at Hardwick Hall this Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
Follow a family trail and explore the wider Derbyshire estate while spotting the 12 Days of Christmas. Track down the reindeers and take a ride in the festive sleigh, and have a go at crafting some festive cards.
There will be a £1 charge to join in with crafting sessions to cover materials.
Get in touch
The festive season has arrived - and, one thing that’s very clear, there’s no shortage of fantastic family fun to be had in the region!
I’d love to hear from you about what you and your family are getting up to in the run-up to the big day - what’s worth a visit? Have you tried one of the amazing wonderlands or live performances taking place throughout Yorkshire? Which is your favourite grotto? Where should our readers be heading if they want a great festive day out with their loved ones?
Do you attend any classes or workshops on a regular basis you think deserve some praise, or perhaps you run an activity or gathering that you’d like to shout out about?
Email me at email@example.com and send me all the details.