Christmas at Groombridge Place - a magical family-friendly, festive event
What I loved about it:
We loved the variety of activities and shows on offer at Christmas at Groombridge Place, and how well it was all organised. It felt like a really slick production and absolutely brought the magic of Christmas to life! It was the ideal family-friendly event to kick off the festivities, and very good value for money.
Value for money (out of 10):
A family-friendly Christmas event to spark some festive magic
As a child, I have some very special memories of visiting Groombridge Place with my family. Featuring enchanted woodlands, fairy hideouts and giant swings, it felt like such a unique and magical place. So when we were invited to the opening weekend of Groombridge Place’s family-friendly Christmas event, I couldn’t wait to take my daughter.
Located in the charming village of Groombridge, just outside of Tunbridge Wells, this beautiful moated house and gardens dates back to the 1600s and has a rich and varied history – from associations with smugglers to inspiring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. However, on the day we visited, this stunning site had been transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland, complete with festive lights, musical shows and a very special toy workshop.
Upon arrival, we were given a map and schedule of the day which included all show times, along with a Christmas passport to collect stamps from all the activities. This was a great way of finding out about all of the different festive treats on offer, planning our day and ensuring we didn’t miss anything. Our daughter was also very excited to start collecting stamps!
Wrapped up in our hats and scarves, we first headed along the riverside pathway to follow the ‘Lost Toy Trail’ down to Groombridge Place’s impressive wooden play area, Crusoe’s World. Our little one was in her element following the toy signs on the trees and seeing all of the pretty Christmas lights along the way. We arrived just in time to see our first show of the day – the ‘Merry Messenger Show’.
Set on a wooden outdoor stage, the musical performance featured elves, a magical fairy nutcracker and even Mrs Christmas herself. The cast (from local company, Once Upon A Wish Events) were hugely friendly and talented, singing beautifully and engaging enthusiastically with us in the audience. The costumes were also fabulous! It felt upmarket and fun all at the same time – a brilliant way to kick off our festive outing.
After a photo with the cheeky elves and a little play in Crusoe’s World, we made our way back towards the house and gardens for the start of another of the shows – the ‘Frosty Tales Show’ featuring Once Upon A Wish’s very own Snow Sisters. Set in the Groombridge Place’s rustic, oak-beamed barn, we sat on hay bales as the show started and well-known songs began. As our daughter has just gotten into Frozen (we are currently on what feels like the 110th viewing of the week…), her face absolutely lit up when Elsa and Anna came on stage, and she could barely contain her excitement when Olaf joined them. It was such a special moment which we loved sharing with her. She even had the chance to have a photo with them after the show as they stamped her passport which was a lovely touch.
We warmed ourselves up with delicious hot chocolates from the Peacock Cafe before exploring the gardens a little more and taking on the maze. Though only small, it was fun to run around and see more of the gardens glistening in the frosty sunshine. We also had a little mooch around the Christmas market stalls which featured a few local producers and food vans.
Our final stop was to the Toy Workshop where we had the chance to decorate gingerbread men, guided by some more decadently dressed and entertaining elves. There was also a surprise visit from Father Christmas himself who very kindly gave all the children a present, all of which was included in the price as an added bonus.
By this point, all the excitement had left our little one ready for an afternoon nap. If we’d had more time, there were also two Bird Of Prey shows during the day and the chance to write a Christmas wish to Father Christmas in the North Pole Post Room, which we also would have enjoyed. However, we left on a high having had an absolutely wonderful time.
Groombridge Place has done a fantastic job of creating an extremely magical family event which is also great value for money. Everything was included in our entry fee of £20 each which we thought was very reasonable, especially given the quality of the performances. The shows and workshops were incredibly professional and classy – fun for all the family without being too cheesy or just aimed at the youngsters – and the setting was just stunning. I highly recommend a visit to this family-friendly Christmas event.
Day time tickets for Christmas at Groombridge Place are available to book via the website. The event runs from 17th – 24th December. Tickets are £20 for adults and children over 2, £3 for children under 2. They are also running Twilight events every day between 15th – 23rd December. Please see the website for more details.