A few weeks ago the family and I were lucky enough to be invited to Marsh Farm: The Father Christmas Experience. It’s one of the events on my 101 Christmas Days out in Essex post, so I was really looking forward to attending. We paid to go last year and had the most amazing time, so I was excited to be going back this year at a time when Alfie was a bit older and therefore hopefully a bit more aware of what was going on.
WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!
I am going to write about the whole day and include lots of photos, so if you are going and don’t want the surprises to be ruined, please don’t read on! I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you. However, if you are undecided about whether to book and if it’s worth the money then do read on and hopefully I can persuade you that it is!!
When we arrived, we were given a map and told we needed to go to Passport Control to collect our passports and meet the elves.
Then we were given two drawstring bags for the children to hold all the goodies they would be collecting on the way. This was a great idea and something different from last year. It was very handy for keeping all the gifts together (and Alfie’s separate from Henry’s). Passport Control was in the pet barn, which is different from last year but I think worked much better as a meeting place as it meant everyone made their way over and had to be there at the correct time (whereas last year we met in the tea room and the elves walked us over, which meant more room for stragglers to get lost or wayward toddlers to run away in the park…not that I’m speaking from experience!!!)
Alfie collected his and Henry’s passport from the elves and we sat in the waiting area until our alloted time. We were due to start the experience at 12.30 and arrived about 10 minutes before which was plenty of time to get sorted. However, as we went on a press day, it might be busier so I’d definitely allow enough time to get through the process so you don’t miss any of the experience.
After a short while, our personal guides introduced themselves – Starlight and Snap. They told us a little bit about the day and spoke to a few people in the audience and then taught us the magical song to open the door to the first part of the tour. We sang the song, then sang it a bit louder, then the door opened and we were ushered into the Elves workshop!
We were treated a little show from two Elves who taught us how to be good elves. The children were all given a magic wand and really encouraged to participate in the show which I always think is nice. Alfie sat there quietly engrossed in the show the whole way through – his attention span is pretty short but he didn’t get distracted at all! Henry loved the wand and was clapping throughout the show.
We then had the opportunity to take a few photos with the Elves whilst we waited to go to the next bit. There is obviously a group ahead of you so the elves need to make sure that the magic isn’t ruined for the children by bumping in to another group enjoying the experience! I thought this was handled really well and we didn’t feel like we were waiting round for ages as they kept us entertained at each part.
Our next stop was to go and find some magical fairies! We waited at the door and had to knock and sing our song before being allowed into the forest. We sat down and was introduced to our first fairy, before our second fairy came out to see us. They did the most amazing acrobat show! It was spectacular, and something a bit different (although perhaps appreciated more by the adults than the children I think!). They then told the children they were going to create a snowstorm and they needed their help with their magic wands! So out came the wands and we made it snow!!!! It was a really magical touch.
After each show, the elves stamped the children’s passports to show they had completed each section. Our next stop was to see Mother Christmas. We had to sing a song with her to help bake a magical cake and then the children all got to decorate a gingerbread man.
Our final stop was to see the big man himself! The elves took us through to the waiting area and we had to patiently wait for our names to be called. The Elves kept us entertained with balloon animals and jokes, and just generally interacting with the children. Finally (literally – we were the last ones called!) Father Christmas was ready to see us.
A lovely elf took us through and Alfie was invited to knock on the door and Father Christmas called us in. Alfie was a little wary so didn’t want to sit next to him, so he stood with us and talked to him instead. Father Christmas knew lots of personal information like his favourite hobby and what he had written in his letter to ask for! I really like the personal touch of asking all these little details. We then sat with Father Christmas for a photo (again Alfie was a bit reluctant) and Mummy received a lovely box of fudge! Father Christmas then gave us a little fabric heart for each child and told us the elves would tell us what to do with it.
We said our goodbyes and continued to the toy making workshop where the elves helped is make our own teddy bear! I remembered this from last year and think it’s such a lovely touch. I have to admit, our elf was not particularly helpful – he seemed a bit busy and pre-occupied so didn’t help us which meant we didn’t zip up the stuffing at first and Henry tried to eat it later on! We were given a certificate to fill in the teddy’s name and other details but again, other people seemed to do this with their elf but we weren’t invited to do this. We also weren’t given any elf money which were needed to buy our toy at the next part! However, this didn’t spoil the experience for Alfie and he loved making his teddy bear.
Our final stop was the toy shop to choose a toy from Father Christmas. There was so much to chose from, for all ages, it was tough to pick! Alfie chose a transformer robot for himself and a wooden police car puzzle for Henry. The photo shop was next door if you wished to purchase your photo with Father Christmas.
We had a really lovely day out, and I would truly recommend this experience to everyone. As I said, we visited this experience last year and paid for it ourselves and had the best time. It was very similar this year so I’m not sure it’s somewhere we would go every year but I would definitely say you should go at least once! I am someone who loves Christmas, so I often have very high expectations of what I want from a Christmas experience. I have been to a fair few and the Marsh Farm Christmas Experience is by far my favourite one. On the face of it, it seems expensive but it really is such great value for money – you get your teddy bear, decorate a gingerbread man, a magic wand, a toy and a bag to keep it all in. That’s as well as the priceless experience of meeting all the characters along the way, including the REAL Father Christmas.
They still have spaces left so it’s not too late to book up and experience this wonderful event for yourself.
Disclaimer: We visited the Marsh Farm Christmas Experience with press tickets however we were not asked or paid to write this review. All views are honest and genuine as always!