We went to see Santa at Springtime Nurseries last week after school. Springtime is a local garden centre that completely becomes a Christmas destination at this time of year with fabulous displays, reindeer, huts selling mulled wine and hot chocolate, a snow globe, a little ice rink and Santa’s Grotto. And, of course a lot of lights, decorations and gifts to purchase.
The grotto experience is pretty special (compared to similar places) as you get on a little ‘train’ first and are taken past lots of festive scenes. Some of those scenes have been there since we started going 4 years ago (and probably a lot longer than that!) but they seem to change things around each year and have new things. It can be a little cheesy but the kids think it is absolutely MAGICAL and I think Imogen genuinely thought we were in the North Pole when we got off the 2 minute train ride.
This is the first year we have had to tackle a grotto visit after school and I was pleased that it’s also the first year that they’ve introduced an online booking system for some tickets. We booked in October and we just walked straight on a train when we arrived, compared the hour’s queuing time for others.
Once off the train we did had to wait about 10 minutes to see Father Christmas but we looked at the displays and hopefully this helped the excitement build up. Of course, there is more than one Santa there and there are lines painted on the floor to lead you to your room (about 6). When we were stood at the front of the queue I wondered if Seren might notice that people were going on or coming out of different rooms but I don’t think she did.
Our Father Christmas guy was friendly but perhaps not the best one we’ve had (the best one we’ve seen was at the same place 2 years ago). Though as soon as he mentioned that he was giving them a pass to his toy room and we were to go in there to pick a toy (a new development for this year), Seren just wanted to get out of there and to the toy room! I liked this format as it meant we could take our taking choosing something (and negotiating not to choose something we have 5 of already!). Seren chose a keyring making set and Imogen got a cuddly penguin.
The down side of an after school visit is that the place started to close soon after we had finished with Santa (and also Imogen was tired!). We just had enough time for a hot drink and quick trip to see the reindeer.
I’m already wondering what to do next year – I’m keeping an eye on where other people have been seeing Santa and love the look of breakfasts with Santa and farm visits!