On Saturday it was time for us to put on our Christmas jumpers (well, just the boys as I can't find a maternity one!) and head over to Willows Activity Farm in London Colney, St Albans, for what is now becoming our annual visit to their Christmas event. Set in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, Willows Activity Farm offers a wonderful family day out with a fun packed programme whatever the weather, but their Santa Spectacular programme is just amazing.
This year the Santa Spectacular event at Willows Activity Farm is being held between 23rd November and 24th December 2016. There are always amazing things happening at Willows all year round, but their Christmas event is by far my favourite time to visit. Last year's Santa Spectacular was fantastic, but if you can believe it they've made it even better this year with the addition of a 3D sleigh ride animation to watch and the new Elf School with Berry and Twig to the already fun-packed day.
We started our day with the 3D sleigh ride which the boys loved. It kept making J jump as presents and sweets were leaping out of the screen at us! After the short animation finished, we made our way straight over to Santa's Grotto, as the boys were really excited to see him. As with last year there was a bit of a queue, but we were kept entertained by the Elves chatting to the children as we waiting and looking at the various displays through the tunnel leading to the grotto. The boys also collected their stamps for their Elf passport so they could get their Magical Reindeer Food at the end.
Santa's grotto at Willows is really impressive, with a fully decorated tree, fireplace, and pictures and decorations on the walls. After talking to the boys about what they'd like for Christmas, Santa gave them each a golden key so that they could access the toy shop and choose a gift. We went straight there, but not before we had our photo taken with Santa! Little N chose some toy cars, while J chose a Finding Dory book and figures set.
The boys had fun on the Festive Funfair Rides then we headed to Burrows Cafe for a quick bite to eat before visiting the Create-A-Cuddle workshop so the boys could make their own husky dog cuddly toy to take home. Little N has named his Fluffy and J has named his Woof-Woof! Then it was time to go to Elf School and learn how to become "real" elves. Willows own elves, Berry and Twig, put on a great show which all the children got involved with, including learning the elf-abet, learning how to tiptoe quietly and learning how to grin just like an elf! It was good fun and on the way out the boys were thrilled to receive their Elf Diplomas!
The boys both wrote letters to Santa whilst we were at Willows, which you can put in the special postbox there to receive a letter back from the big man himself. As always, there are lots of animals to see at Willows, and this Christmas a traditional sledding dog – Mischka the Alaskan Malamute – joins the rest of the festive animals alongside Star the reindeer and Benjy the donkey. We didn't get round to meeting Mischka or Benjy but we did pop by to say hello to the reindeer.
The Magical Ice Rink at Willows was something we hadn't tried before but this year the boys were keen to give it a go. With me being so pregnant, I stayed off the rink. Although it is synthetic ice I didn't want to risk falling over! Ian took the boys onto the rink and they absolutely loved it, especially J who is just so confident for a two year old. He loved skating around and didn't want to get off!
There was so much more we could have done, such as the Festive Wood Ride, the Snowball Shootout, the Nativity Story which features animals, and not forgetting the amazing Peter Rabbit Playground, but by now this mama was getting tired so we called it a day and made our way home so I could get a well-earned rest. It was such a brilliant day and the boys have not stopped talking about it since - and neither have I!
For more information, call 0870 129 9718, go to www.willowsactivityfarm.com, or like and follow @Willows_Farm on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news and updates. Prices for Santa Spectacular start from £24.75 per child when booking online in advance.