Lotherton Christmas Experience – a Yorkshire delight
What I loved about it:
Lotherton Christmas Experience is a fabulous experience as it caters for different ages of children and you can tailor make your experience dependent on budget.
Value for money (out of 10):
A fun family festive experience
We were kindly invited to attend the press event of Lotherton Christmas Experience. This event held at Lotherton Hall, North Leeds is a sell out each year and as we have previously not been able to get tickets we were very keen to attend!
For those of you who have not been to Lotherton Hall then I would highly recommend it even without the Christmas experience on.
Lotherton Hall is a small Edwardian hall surrounded by expansive grounds. There is a wildlife park, playgrounds, café and formal gardens. The grounds are a child’s dream with plenty of space to run wild, brilliant parks to play on, plenty of picnic tables and the paths are pram friendly which is an added bonus.
The wildlife park is substantial and you can easily wander round for a few hours. Packed full of birds from around the world, Penguins (our favourites!) and mammals including some not so obvious breeds such as Armadillos and Maras.
The Christmas experience though was great. There are lots of activities to get involved in and of course a visit to see the big man himself. The theme of the Christmas experience was kindness and this could be seen through each activity. The staff who played the characters were brilliant with the kids; not too in your face or pushy and knew when to back off which meant that even my little fussy man who usually refuses to cooperate at these times was up dancing with the elves even showing them a move or two!
Our Christmas experience started in Lotherton Hall itself. Due to covid we have never actually entered the hall so this was an extra treat we hadn’t anticipated. We were warmly greeted with mulled wine (or juice) and mince pies (with icing on – what a delight!). Then we ambled our way through the luxuriously decorated rooms. The Christmas trees were ornately decorated each with its own theme. We particularly liked the NHS tribute tree with all the crocheted dolls. There were old fashioned toys set out, big Christmas dinner spreads and lots of artifacts that made you feel all cosy and homely.
Our next stop after a little perusal of the Christmas market stalls was to see Mrs Claus. After a little tale told by Mrs Claus the kids were handed gingerbread men to decorate with a little help from the naughty elves. We were then allowed to take them home (the gingerbread not the elves).
From here we headed down to the Christmas village to queue for Santa. Due to this being a press event we were required to queue as we did not have prebooked time slots which I hope would make the whole process slicker. Once inside the Christmas village we were asked to make a kindness wish and put it on the tree. This was a really sweet start and not something I’ve seen elsewhere before. Next stop was the elves workshop to make some reindeer food. The elves made the food in front of you explaining all the ingredients then each child was gifted a bag to take home. The elves shed was decorated beautifully and again the elves were all great at staying in character and chatting to us throughout. The next stop was the post office where you could post your letter to Santa if you had one. This wasn’t an interactive station which was a missed opportunity. Next up was the waiting room shed which was very well appreciated as it had seats and a little fire going which protected us against the start of Storm Arwen that had just arrived. A little waiting around and then we were called to see Santa.
Flanked by his 2 elves, Santa Claus (“it’s just a pretend one mummy, the real one’s too busy to come”) was sat there waiting for us in his grotto shed. The kindness theme continued and Santa Claus asked the littlies if they had been kind this year. Little man launched straight into his pre-rehearsed “wheelbarrows and more cars please” speech not even listening to the question! Unfortunately for him he didn’t quite get what he wanted from the present offered here (a gingerbread man cuddly toy) but he wasn’t disappointed thankfully and smiled for a photo! We got a couple of minutes with Santa so it was short and sweet but he was happy to chat, was super duper kind and happy for photos so all in all a lovely experience.
We headed to the café but sadly we were too late as it had closed. However from previous visits it is worth going to, reasonably priced and nice food. Instead we nipped into the elves workshop and decorated a plate which we got to bring home.
Last but not least was the illuminated trail…
As our Christmas experience was around tea time it was perfect for walking the trial to see it all lit up. You can however do this at any time of the day. In the winter months it’s pretty dark and dreary all day but as it’s under tree cover the walk can still be enjoyed. The trail this year had been revamped. Previously it was the 12 days of Christmas whereas now it is the Traditions of Christmas. The trail was good but lacked the wow factor for us which was a shame as we enjoyed this so much in previous years. This may be due to a few teething issues on the night, as a couple of the stations were not moving/working but it certainly wasn’t as interactive as it could have been. I also think with small children the music being played last year added to the atmosphere and excitement levels so it felt a bit flat. This however is included in the entry price to the estate so it’s not a deal breaker.
Overall we had a lovely time at Lotherton Christmas experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to book to go again. We love the place anyway so I would certainly say make a day of it and use the rest of the facilities on site whilst you are there. Wrap up warm though as it is mostly outdoors!