Experiencing the magic of Christmas at Marwell Zoo

Christmas at Marwell

Marwell Zoo is one of our favourite days out with the kids.

Not only is it full of wonderful animals to see, but the kids love racing around its wide pathways, and testing their climbing skills in their numerous play areas. It has also had some exciting new exhibits open this year, which gives you something new to look at each visit.

This weekend we were invited to experience the magic of Christmas at Marwell and it certainly did not disappoint.

We last enjoyed the Christmas festivities at Marwell back in 2012 which saw the kids having a story read by Mother Christmas and decorating gingerbread men, but this year is bigger and better than anything they have done before.

Christmas at Marwell

Arriving at Marwell Hall for our 10.30am time slot, we were greeted by topiary reindeer and a huge Christmas Tree complete with candy canes, which I can imagine looks even more beautiful lit up at night.

Christmas at Marwell

We were greeted at the door of the Grade 1 listed manor house, Marwell Hall by Jingle the Elf and his friend Belle and ushered inside where the adults were treated to a cup of mulled wine and the kids got a juice and a biscuit reindeer.

Christmas at Marwell

In a lovely touch, there was a large TV screen set up in the room with the “Nice List”. Luckily the kids names were there and they loved finding them.

Christmas at Marwell

We had around a 15 minute wait in this room to enjoy our drinks and biscuits and chat to the friendly elves.

Christmas at Marwell

We were then called into another room which involved walking through a beautifully decorated corridor.

Christmas at Marwell

Inside the fairy glen, we were greeted by Mother Christmas and Sugar Plum the elf and seated – padded tree trunk cushions for the kids to sit on and benches for the adults.

Christmas at Marwell

Mother Christmas then gave an enchanting sensory reading of a tale inspired by The Nutcracker, complete with puppets, music and songs. She did the most beautiful rendition of Doll on a Music Box from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Christmas at Marwell

Once the story was over, it was on to the Elf Workshop where we joined a team of mischievous elves to create our very own Christmas Eve plate to take home.

Christmas at Marwell

There were stencil shapes and cookie cutters on the table with porcelain pens to create the perfect masterpiece, which was then stored in a padded envelope to ensure safe passage home.

Christmas at Marwell

For kids that raced through their designs, there was also the chance to write a letter to Santa and post it in the special post box in the workshop – we even did one for the school puppet who had joined us for the experience.

Christmas at Marwell

Finally, it was time to see the big man himself in his grotto. He spent a good amount of time speaking to the kids before giving them a gift and posing for photo’s. The presents were good quality and well thought out for their ages too.

Christmas at Marwell

You can purchase the additional photos for an extra cost of £7 each or 3 for £15 which make a lovely memory of the day, especially as you get a digital and physical copy.

Christmas at Marwell

The experience lasts around 80 minutes and booking well in advance is recommended as the event is always hugely popular.

Christmas at Marwell

Entry to the zoo is included in the price of the event, however, guests who book onto evening Christmas sessions from 4pm, entry to the zoo is not included but they will receive a return ticket from the elves on arrival at the Hall to return to visit again by 17 March 2018.


The event runs from Saturday, November 18th until Sunday, December 24th and costs £25 per adult, £28 per child (3-15), £15 for toddlers (12 – 36 months) and £7 for infants.

33 thoughts on “Experiencing the magic of Christmas at Marwell Zoo

  1. Kerri says:

    What a unique way to spend with the family during the Christmas season! I would have loved to see someone perform a scene of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Such a great film! If you kids loved the reading of the Nutcracker inspired tale, here’s a great bit of info on the history and meaning of Nutcrackers! (https://www.cuckooforest.com/blogs/cuckoo-forest-blog/german-nutcrackers-exclusive). It’s great that the day included some souvenirs and then zoo animals as an added bonus!

  2. Sonia Cave says:

    We loved Marwell Zoo when we lived in the UK, and this looks such a lovely way to celebrate Christmas

  3. Laura says:

    This experience really does sound magical and well worth the money. I love it when places invest properly in their Christmas experiences.

    I hope the school puppet gets something nice from Santa too!

  4. Aww my kids would love this place. Sounds magical.

  5. Louise says:

    I’ve never been to Marwell Zoo before, but their Christmas experience sounds AMAZING! My two would love it for sure 🙂

    Louise x

  6. Stephanie says:

    This sounds like a perfect Christmas event, I love the activities they have one

  7. I love the nice list, I think it’s a great touch! The whole experience sounds fab 🙂

  8. Such a very nice place! Marwell Zoo is not just a zoo but also a magical place. Kids can really feel the spirit of Christmas here and not just that, so many enjoying activities. This will be a nice memory that they can cherish with their family as they grow older.

  9. Lilinha says:

    We’ve never been to a Christmas event at a zoo before but it looks so much fun! What a lovely family day out!

  10. We visited Marwell Zoo as well at the weekend and loved seeing Father Christmas. We were also super impressed with the plate we made and can’t wait to get it out on Christmas Eve! Great event.

  11. Linda Hobbis says:

    What an inventive way to get people to the zoo. I bet Jingle the elf was glad of a sit down at the end of the day though.

  12. Emily Leary says:

    Mother Christmas looks like she has everyone totally engrossed, love it!

  13. Melanie says:

    Looks like you had a lovely time! Zoo mixed with Christmas – yes please! 🙂 x

  14. Jen says:

    I love this side of Christmas, so exciting for little ones. Marwell Zoo look like they have made this a fantastic experience, and certainly worth visiting.

  15. It looks like you guys had such a great time! I wonder if they do a similar event at my Zoo her in Atlanta?

  16. I love it when places like this theme themselves up for Christmas x

  17. Kira says:

    We absoulately love the zoo. It is our favourite place to go with the girls . It looks so magical there! 🙂

  18. This looks like a fantastic trip to the zoo. I love the photo of the kids with Santa. It sounds like a great experience. It’s a shame we don’t live closer.

  19. Aw so glad that you had a good time at Marwell zoo and I love how they had a nice list! It must have been fun for the kids to try and find their name on the list! x

  20. Ah wow, this looks so magical! I cannot wait to go to Christmassy events.

  21. This looks like such a lovely place to go at Christmas, I love how many festive activities there are around!

  22. Jen Walshaw says:

    I really love it when places get seasonal tours just right – We live to far away to visit, but hope to one day

  23. Patrick says:

    A great day of sweet memories for your whole family. I am sure a lot of fun was had,I know your kids were bummed seeing a boring old tiger instead of a fast,sleek cheetah!!

  24. This sounds amazing! And I’m really surprised by the price – thought it would be much higher so that’s a huge bonus! x

  25. Emma says:

    We went to Marwell at Christmas a few years ago and it was wonderful. I’m trying to decide where to go this year and Marwell is definitely on my list.

  26. Nadine Hill says:

    I just love Christmassy tours like this – with all the fairy lights. It really gets you excited for school breaking up and having Christmas!!

  27. Cathy Glynn says:

    This looks like such a fabulous experience. Well done Marwell Zoo x

  28. Aww this looks beyond magical for children! We visited Marwell Zoo a while ago and my daughter loved it 🙂

  29. Joanna says:

    It sounds like a brilliant even for children, something a bit different than just meeting Santa in the grotto in the local shopping centre. The children do look like they had a lot of fun being involved in so many cute activities. It’s great that the zoo ticket is included in the event’s one as well.

  30. Sarah Bailey says:

    Oh wow it looks like Marwell Zoo has a lot going on this Christmas, how much fun does it look for kids!

  31. This looks magical. I don’t think we have anything like this around where we live. We only have the National Trust and English Heritage properties. To be fair though, they also have lovely Christmas events for kids 🙂

  32. Wayne says:

    I love the zoo. What a fantastic idea.

  33. It looks like you had a great time, what a lovely day out for the family to get into the spirit of christmas x

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