With everything going on this year I must confess to thinking Christmas 2020 would be a washout, in fact I’d gone so far as to telling my children that we probably wouldn’t have a Christmas trip this year. You can only imagine my joy when I got the email telling me that the Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall WOULD be going ahead this year (in line with the current coronavirus rules in place of course) .
Here is the press release to whet your appetite followed by our review from last year….
From 27 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, The Christmas Experience will return for its fifth fantastic year, and the elves have been busy tweaking the tinsel and adding the last sprinkle of festive fairydust to make this year as magical as ever.
Tickets are on sale now and are being snapped up quickly, as Santa’s diary has been given a special makeover to ensure socially distanced festive fun for all the family.
In a year that’s been more glum than fun, visitors young and old will get all the festive feels when Santa and his elves take up residence at the popular destination just outside of Leeds.
The Elf Village has had a makeover and is home to Santa and his most trusted head elves, who will be waiting to greet families and share Christmas cheer for all to hear.
Little ones will first visit Postmaster Pippin McJingles in Ye Olde Post Office Central to send their letter to Santa, before heading to the Reindeer Emporium and collecting their very own magical reindeer feed to take home ready for Rudolph to enjoy on Christmas Eve.
And of course, no Christmas Experience would be complete without a visit to the main man himself. Santa will be in The Elf Village ‘Under The Wishing Tree’, waiting to greet boys and girls, hear their yuletide wishes and give them an early Christmas gift. Pre-school children will also have the opportunity to visit Santa in his cabin during the day.
Seasonal favourites including the Twelve Days of Christmas Woodland Walk and the Enchanted Fairy Dell will return, although with a different look and feel, including one-way adventure paths to follow, sanitising stations along the way and social distancing guidelines in place.
Venturing into the house, visitors will be transported back in time, as they enjoy each room decked out in the traditional festive finery of an Edwardian Christmas. This year, the elves request all grown-ups and children aged 11+ wear a mask to visit Santa and to explore the house.
The Christmas Experience opens on 27 November 2020 and is run by Lotherton and Breeze. Tickets are available now, with a number of visit options, early booking is recommended as spaces are limited and strictly on a pre-booking only, time-slotted system.
Hygiene and social distancing measures will be in place to ensure Lotherton is COVID secure. Full Covid safety measures can be found on the website.
We have been lucky enough to have a few festive days recently, the first of which was the preview night of The Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall.
Despite having lived in Leeds for an eternity, Lotherton Hall is somewhere we first visited only month ago. We really enjoyed it and kicked ourselves for not venturing that way before so when I got an email asking if I’d like to go to the preview, I was pretty darned chuffed.
Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall
The Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall is spread out over the whole estate and comprises of six main parts:
The Twelve Days of Christmas Woodland Walk
We followed the fairy lights down a track through the trees, where each of the twelve days of Christmas was represented in an interactive station. I am sure the walk is lovely in the light but we visited in the dark and it really did feel magical under all the twinkling lights (though it played merry hell with the photos I wanted to take).
The darkness seemed to add to the children’s excitement and they were positively giddy running through the trees trying to find the next activity. They, and Rory, spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get all nine ladies dancing at the same time but it just wasn’t possible! Watching them all running around in the dark, spinning wooden ladies was VERY entertaining though!
From the Twelves Days of Christmas Woodland Walk we entered the Fairy Dell. Entry to this is by stone steps so in the dark, be careful. We walked quietly through the tiny, lit up fairy village and heard all the fairy chatter and laughter. It really was beautiful but and the kids loved looking at all the little houses and shops. I must confess, at one point I found myself standing alone in the dark, surrounded by high pitch fairy chatter and it was a little creepy…
From the Fairy Dell you can head to the house where downstairs is decked out like an Edwardian Christmas with a beautiful tree in every room – #Lifegoals. It really is beautiful taking a look around and there’s even a chance to dress up in Edwardian attire and have a picture taken in the Edwardian Selfie (Elfie?) studio.
Here you will find the Cafe, a take away kiosk and the gift shop. The perfect opportunity to grab something to drink or pick up some festive gifts. We bought the kids here for something to eat as the food truck in the Elf Village had closed. I’m going to be honest, the prices were a little steep to say there was a captive audience – almost £6 for a kids sandwich box…I’d recommend trying the food in the Elf Village or maybe taking your own.
Santa’s North Pole
Right next to the Christmas Courtyard, you’ll find the entrance to the North Pole. We ALL know who lives in there!
After a lengthy chat with a lovely elf, we were told Father Christmas was ready, a large group of us were then led into the North Pole where we could make reindeer food (glitter free) in the elves workshop.
We then followed the path round to see Santa. As it was a preview night, Father Christmas was sat outside his grotto and the kids did get a chance to speak to him, which they loved, but I have no REAL idea how the ‘normal’ Father Christmas visit would work.
The Elf Village
After seeing the big man, we went to the Elf Village where we found a lot of lovely little cabins surrounding a cozy seating area. Some of the cabins were stalls selling lovely little gifts, others were activities for the children to do. Each activity costs one token each (one token costs £3 or get 4 for £10).
The kids decided to decorate plates to leave mince pies for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. They all put a lot of effort into their plates and were a little disappointed when they realised they couldn’t use the plates as the ink comes off. In the middle of the cabins is a large seating area under a twinkling canopy where you can enjoy a hot chocolate or food from the Shepherd’s Hut while wrapped in a blanket. The food and drink is relatively well priced in this area.
New for 2019 at The Christmas Experience
As if all that wasn’t entertainment enough, this year the Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall has a new addition – an open air ice-rink! Whether you’re Torvill & Dean or Bambi on ice, slide along to the ice rink for 45 mins of skating fun. Prices are £12.50 an adult, £9.50 for children aged 5-15 and under 5s skate free. There is also a family ticket (a adults and 2 children) available for £38.
What did we think of The Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall?
We all really enjoyed our time at the Christmas Experience, the kids especially. I would definitely recommend heading over once it starts to get dark, we all know fairy lights make everything magical. The majority of the Experience is on established paths/track so access for buggies and wheelchairs should be fine. It is largely outside though so be sure to dress appropriately as it could get cold and muddy.
General admission to the estate is £8 for adults and £4 for children.
Tickets to Santa’s North Pole are priced at £12.95 per child – this price includes admission to the whole site. This works out at £8.95 to see Santa at Lotherton Hall but Santa’s North Pole visit lasts around 40 minute and isn’t really suitable for babies.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure we experienced the Santa visit in the way you ‘normally’ would so I don’t know if it’s value for money.
One thing I CAN say is that for the £8/4 entry fee, the Twelve Days Walk, Fairy Dell, House and Elf Village is WELL worth the money and we will definitely go again to do that part of it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you get there before 3.15pm you will be able to visit the Wildlife World within that admission price.