For us, the Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm has become an annual family tradition. This is the third year we’ve been and each year it gets better and better. Perfect for children of all ages, and fun for adults too, it really is the best way to get yourself feeling festive, and is a cut above the majority of grottos out there. It’s no surprise that the experience has won the Essex Mums award for Best Christmas Event for the last three years!
As in previous years, our journey started at Passport Control, where we were entertained by Professor Hollypop and met our elf guides. The guides were fun and friendly, and did an excellent job of keeping the children amused throughout. This year, Passport Control was housed in Tilly’s Tea Room, so the (not very long) wait was warm and comfortable, with the option to buy refreshments if need be. The children’s passports featured puzzles to keep them busy too. After a short while we went on to Elf School, where we were taught how to be elves by Trixie and Dixie. The kids thought this was very funny, and Dexter discovered he was on the good list, much to all of our surprise! The quality of the performances from all the elves and other characters was really excellent, especially considering it was the first day and I would have thought there might be the odd hiccup! Everyone involved was enthusiastic and totally in character, and there was a big improvement in the outfits and prosthetics this year – Trixie and Dixie looked the part to an almost freaky degree.
After this, we went on to the Enchanted Forest, which was my favourite part. We were greeted by ‘Flake Sinatra’ who crooned some Christmas classics, and the kids all had a bit of a dance. The forest looked beautiful, lit up with fairly lights and smelling lovely and wintry. After a few songs, we got to one of the highlights of the tour – SNOW! The kids, of course, loved this and were totally thrilled, and the snow was pretty convincing, with lots of it! After a trip through the frosty mines, we arrived at Mother Christmas’s kitchen. This was a similar format to last year, with Mother Christmas chatting to the children then them going on to decorate some gingerbread men. This year, however, I really felt it benefited from smaller group sizes. My one complaint from last year was that the groups were a bit too big; this year our group was only about 20 children, which made it a really manageable group. I got the feeling that some of the groups were a bit bigger, but it seemed they were no bigger than 30 or so. They were also really well managed – the elves made sure all the children came to the front so they were all able to see and encouraged parents to take a step back and let their children enjoy themselves which made for a more relaxing time all round!
Then it was time for the main event, and once again Father Christmas didn’t disappoint! We were only waiting for about five minutes, and in this time the elves kept us well entertained, even down to playing musical statues with my three children when they were the only ones left! Santa was convincing and friendly and all the kids thought he was great. We were given a token to take to the toy shop and a heart to put in their bears, and the kids came home laden with goodies! There was even a free hot chocolate to be had in the playbarn, which was a nice end to the day.
Considering that at 11am my nine year old was moaning that he was ‘too big to see Father Christmas’, by 3pm he was as good as yelling ‘I believe!’ at the top of his lungs! I call that a success!
For more experience and to book, visit www.marshfarm.co.uk