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.
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.
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.
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.
We had around a 15 minute wait in this room to enjoy our drinks and biscuits and chat to the friendly elves.
We were then called into another room which involved walking through a beautifully decorated corridor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The experience lasts around 80 minutes and booking well in advance is recommended as the event is always hugely popular.
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.