Santa’s grottos and festive events are ten-a-penny now that we are in December, and it can be hard to decide which one to attend, writes Gemma Jimmison.
But you won’t go wrong if you get yourself along to Lotherton Hall’s magical Christmas Experience.
The event opened to the public on November 25, although a number of special guests - including Children’s Mayor of Leeds Grace Branford from Drighlington Primary School - were invited to an exclusive launch evening on November 23.
I went down with my husband and four-year-old daughter Lucy.
Unfortunately Lucy has a huge dislike of Santa - she’s yet to go near one without a great deal of encouragement and mum’s leg to hide behind.
But this experience really changed her mind.
We joined the queue ready for our Santa slot, and entered the Elf Village with a few other children and their parents.
First up was a great little craft workshop, where the elves helped Lucy make some reindeer food for Christmas Eve, and this was followed by some colouring as the children waited their turn.
Then we went in to see Santa. Lucy was immediately very shy, but Santa encouraged her to sit next to him with a special bag of sweets, just for shy children!
He was very patient with her, there was time to talk about whether she had been a good girl and what she would like for Christmas. Santa also had some magic (3D) glasses to see the reindeer in the North Pole. He was really convincing and I was pleasantly surprised how much he got Lucy talking. She even allowed me enough to move away - and we got our first ever picture (see main image) of Lucy alone with Santa, instead of clinging to mum or dad. She was then given a little gift and said goodbye to Santa and his elf.
The whole thing was very laid back - it didn’t seem like a conveyor belt of queueing, impatient families as we’ve experienced in previous years.
Sadly, the Elf Village and slots to see Santa have now sold out, but it’s still worth a visit just for the Twelve Days of Christmas Walk and magical Fairy Dell.
The walk, through the Lotherton Hall grounds, offers an interactive experience that’s perfect for little ones. They can help the drummers drum, hook a swimming swan and walk through the five gold rings.
The walk isn’t too short, so you feel like it’s worth the money to get in, but it’s not so long that the kids start moaning.
The fairy dell is an intricate, beautifully crafted little village full of fairy homes, shops and a pub - there’s even a wishing well, which is raising cash for charity.
And this weekend, Lotherton Hall is also hosting its annual Edwardian weekend.
Visitors can enjoy the festive splendour of the house in its finest decorations, and there will also be family crafts, a children’s entertainer in the library, sing-a-long carol singing in the drawing room and wreath-making in the courtyard.
Visitors to The Christmas Experience will be required to purchase an estate entry ticket for access to the Twelve Days of Christmas Walk, Fairy Dell, the house and grounds.
For more information and to book tickets, go to www.thechristmasexperience.co.uk
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