I have to admit, I’m not much of a shopper, so Freeport is not somewhere I’ve visited before. I was aware they occasionally had events but I don’t think they’ve had a christmas event of this scale before so was quite intrigued to see what it was like.
The Braintree Express is described as “an immersive Santa’s grotto experience, sponsored by Radio Essex”, and is situated in what appears to be a little hut by the entrance to the centre. Upon entering we were greeted by some very jolly elves who took our details and chatted with the kids. It was very festively decorated with a tree and some old fashioned decorations including nutcrackers, which my kids were very intrigued by. The elves were nice and tried to encourage participation but seemed to be a little embarrassed, which of course then makes the children feel the same way. Unfortunately, I think this is one of those jobs where you have to give it your all! Hopefully this was just a few teething pains though and they elves will be much more chipper as time goes on.
After a short wait, we entered the Braintree Express to the North Pole, which was quite fun. I couldn’t help feeling a little sad as my now-11 year old would have loved it when he was little but he’s getting a bit cynical these days. My other two loved it though, especially having to look out for reindeers.
Then we arrived at Santa’s grotto, where we were met by the man himself. He chatted with the kids and asked some questions as well as a bit of singing. All the children got a present, and he spoke to each child individually. It’s a shame they didn’t get to go into to see him themselves as is normally the case but I imagine that’s down to time or space constraints.
At £8.50 each for children and £4.50 for adults (I’m not really sure what we are paying for!) it’s a little steep for what you get, but the presents were quite good value and the kids genuinely did have a good time, so I would say if you are in the area shopping and looking for something to encourage the kids to stay a longer, this could be ideal!
For more information and to book, visit freeport-braintree.com/all-aboard-braintree-express. The Braintree Express runs until until Christmas Eve.