Christmas is on the way, there is just no denying it any more. We haven’t put the tree up (yet), but I am definitely getting into the mood with everyone else’s festivities on social media. Since Isabelle was born we’ve always taken an Autumn/Winter trip to Center Parcs just to get away for 5 days, and last year we coincidentally booked for the first week of their “Center Parcs Winter Wonderland” extravaganza. Honestly, it was magical. The atmosphere was fantastic and the decorations and extra facilities were just wonderful. We loved it so much I booked our winter break for this year on the first day of that trip.
So, fast forward 12 months and here we are, except I didn’t book the right week and it ended up that the Winter Wonderland breaks began on the day we left. That didn’t stop us though, and we saw the mistake as a challenge to do as much as humanly possible after we’d packed the car to come home.
So what do you need to know?
First things first, that the breaks usually start on the 2nd week of November and go all the way through to Christmas. During this time they have custom built attractions to entertain families and especially young children. We went to Woburn so there may be some slight differences between the villages, so do excuse me if this isn’t specific for your break – although the majority is a carbon copy.
Let’s begin with the decorations. They are everywhere, and no expenses are spared.
“From giant bauble mountains to angels and huge light up reindeer, just walking around the village is Christmassy. In the covered areas, there are interactive decorations which sing and more fake snow than you can shake a stick at.”
The best bit by far is the Santa’s Workshop. There is a whole area dedicated to the big man himself with animatronic singing reindeer, hundreds of Christmas trees, a real reindeer enclosure and beautifully themed decorations. You can walk around at your pleasure and it is so special for the little ones. Snow is pumped out so it falls on you as you walk through and at the other end is a Christmas gift shop and a special place to meet the big man. When we were there last year we went to this bit every day. We soaked up as much as we could this year before heading for home, and I even sneakily managed to book in to see Father Christmas before we left (if you book a Winter Wonderland break it is one of the activities you can pre-book).
It is worth noting that the Santa’s Workshop experience has to be booked in advance, so check online before you go, however, it is a fantastic activity and really special for the kids. We paid £15 – which is on the steep side for a Santa, however, it lasts about 15 minutes. You initially queue outside the workshop and then make your way through it before meeting the Big Man. Elves are on hand to entertain and there are so many decorations there is no chance for boredom.
Note, big spoilers now so don’t read ahead with kids or if you want to keep the surprise.
When you make it to the door to meet Santa the elf passes through a card with your kid’s names on which goes to one of two Santas. You then go through to your chosen fellow and magically, he knows who your children are. The outfits are fantastic and very convincing. As always, your children are given the opportunity to tell him their Christmas list and you then all pose for a photo which comes included in the price. All the children get a present and you are then released out into the gift shop. Usually, a couple of pictures are taken by the elves so you can pick the best one which is printed. It comes in a commemorative cardboard frame and there is the opportunity to buy copies and other gifts too (think keyrings and photo snow globes).
Honestly, the whole Center Parcs Winter Wonderland experience is magical, with festive horse and carriage rides, Christmas themed activities like breakfast with Santa, there is no chance you’ll not find something to take your fancy. We are looking to book ourselves in again for next year, with school now in the equation it does make things a bit more difficult. There are some fab deals if you book early and I’d definitely recommend it.
Are there any festive themed places or events that you go to year on year? I’d love to know what you think.
We paid for this break ourselves, I am in no way sponsored or affiliated with Center Parcs. We are just Center Parcs addicts.
If you fancy leaving comment, please do, they always make my day!