My son turns 8 in a couple of weeks and so this time of year is extra magical for us. He’s still very much a believer in Father Christmas and we are counting down the days until Berry the Elf comes to stay again on 1st December .On Sunday we had a truly magical day enjoying Christmas at Marwell Zoo, down in Hampshire.
My son and I have been raving about Marwell Zoo ever since our first visit a few months ago. It’s the perfect place for my giraffe loving son and I could literally spend all day admiring the snow leopards and tigers.
This time around our day would be a little different as we spent time enjoying Christmas at Marwell Zoo, and really starting to get into the festive mood. I’m aware that the belief in all things Father Christmas might not be there for too much longer with my son. He’s in a mixed year class at school with older Year Four children, and I’m really hoping that we get at least one more year of the magic here.
We had a time slot of 11.15 to spent time enjoying Christmas at Marwell Zoo, the package price includes general entry to the zoo itself, so we arrived just after opening time to enjoy a full day out. The staff at the entry kiosk advised that we could either join the tractor train from the Gift Shop close to the entrance 15 minutes before our entry time, or we could meet outside Marwell Hall 5 minutes beforehand. As my son was eager to acquaint himself with the giraffes we headed off on foot. The zoo is very walkable, but little legs might find the tractor train ride a quicker way to travel.
I had taken so many photos of our day enjoying Christmas at Marwell Zoo on my DSLR camera but late in the afternoon my memory card developed a fault and I can’t retrieve any of the shots to share with you. I did take a few on my phone and Kara at Chelseamamma has very kindly shared some of her photos from the previous day with me. Whilst I don’t have all the shots to share that I would have liked, I do hope I can convey just how magical the experience was.
We were met at the door to Marwell Hall by Jingle the Elf, who was just brilliant, even the hard to impress Daddy P thought he was perfect. He even knows Berry the Elf, how amazing is that. My son was in awe and I just knew at that moment that the experience was going to be wonderful. We were ushered into a room to enjoy mulled wine (adults only), blackcurrant squash or water, along with a cookie while we waited for everyone to assemble. Jingle and his elf friends kept us entertained and there was a large screen showing the Naughty List, touch it and the Nice List came up. The children all eagerly searched for their names, and then, not only did my son find his name, he spotted a picture of an elf that looked exactly like our elf, Berry. Well that was it, total belief.
You could feel the excitement levels mounting in the room and we were all eager to see what treats lay in store.
It was time to head off to the North Pole and meet up with Mother Christmas and listen to her story telling. She really was fantastic, she read and sang a story based on The Nutcracker and the grown ups loved it as much as the children. There was an opportunity to join in at one point and everyone was spellbound.
The fun continued as we said goodbye to Mother Christmas and headed to the Elf Workshop to create some Christmas Eve plate masterpieces.
There was room for everyone and plenty of ceramic pens and stencils for the children to use to create their masterpieces on the plates provided. My son loves reindeer so he set to work with a stencil, and was in his element.
Everyone was provided with a festive padded bag to keep the plates safe for the rest of the day, which was a lovely touch.
Before my son got to meet the big man himself, he was asked if he wanted to write him a letter so he’d know what to get him come Christmas Eve. Well I was rather amazed when my son took the pen and started to write. Write I tell you, my son! I was even more impressed when there was only one thing on his list, especially as I know Father Christmas already has this in the bag, so to speak.
Now meeting Father Christmas can go one of two ways with my son. He’s super shy, and I wasn’t sure whether he’d sit with him without me, or if he’d talk to him. Well the magic was truly there, we walked into the room and my son walked straight over and sat next to Father Christmas. You have no idea how big a thing this is for us. The look on my son’s face throughout the experience was priceless, but right there and then it was just wonderful, a memory I’ll keep forever.
You can take photos on your phone/camera and there is a professional photographer on hand too. Father Christmas took my son’s letter and gave him a present to keep him going until Christmas Day. We said our goodbyes and had one last treat as we all got to hug a snow leopard!
At this point there is also an opportunity to review the photographers shots and decide if you want to purchase. we had five different shots to choose from, you can buy one for £7, two for £10 or three for £15. I’m so glad we bought out photo with what happened to my camera later in the day. Prints are available really quickly and by the time we’d got home I’d been emailed a link for my digital download.
Enjoying Christmas at Marwell Zoo took just over one hour, I thought each section was very well paced and everyone in our group seemed to really enjoy themselves. We certainly left Marwell Hall with big smiles on our faces and a son that totally believes in the magic of Christmas.
Once outside we headed to the nearby Cafe Graze for a Christmas lunch complete with crackers before enjoying the rest of the day seeing the animals. It really was the perfect mix of activities for us and I can thoroughly recommend the experience. It’s booking up fast though, so be quick!
disclosure: we were given complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review