Katherine (@katlondonmtr) has written a lovely and honest review of the Santa experience at Nevendon Manor!
I wanted to find a grotto or Santa experience during November for my son. I was looking at lots of different options. He’s nearly three but still not a fan of the traditional Santa’s grotto. In the summer I heard about the Dream Garden pop up by Boo kids.
It was the first time I took him to an immersive theatre and he really enjoyed it. It kept him busy for the entire time and interested. So I was looking around for something similar.
I thought about the traditional options like Fortnum and Mason story time (totally sold out) even entertained Lapland UK (long car journey, expensive, was there enough to do for an under 3?) but I stumbled upon Nevendon Manor.
So I did some research as it would be a 3 ticket event for us. I checked trip advisor. The reviews were either 1 star or 5 stars. So I did some more research and went to the website. Read most of the reviews and decided to go ahead. Worst come to the worst we would have a festive picture.
I was really pleasantly surprised. We started off by getting out of the car to sleigh bells. My son was immediately engaged. Then made our way to the kiosk. Staff were friendly and interacted without being cheesy. Showed the lady our tickets. Read the terms and conditions. Everyone was dressed as elves. One small detail was the rope, it had sleigh bells on it which my son loved to move and make sounds this was really nice.
Then straight on to the tour. We were a bit tight for time. But there was the option to have mulled wine and other Christmassy treats, all paid for but there is no pressure.
We went straight off to elf school. This was in a lovely barn. Very traditional. The children sat at desks. The elves spoke to the children. Saying they were on the nice list. They acted their parts with such enthusiasm. We could take pictures. It was lovely.
The children were a bit older than my son but he was really enjoying it. The children were taught their elf name and to write what they wanted for Christmas.
The décor was really good. Then on to the next part, a head elf who spoke about what was expected of the elf who led our group. Then on to the wishing well. This part was great for my son as he loved the wishing well part. The story came together seamlessly. Having led many school performances and assemblies as a teacher this is not an easy task!
Next we went to a little house that had elves. I don’t want to give too much away but the children then made their wishes and posted their lists for santa. It was really well done. The actors are young and there was an adult chaperone with each group to keep things moving. She hung back at the back of the group which I think was a really good idea for both the actors and the families.
Then on to Santa’s workshop where we met Mother Christmas. The elves gave a great performance and handed out candy canes. Then we opened another door and it was like Narnia, we entered a snowy part of the story.
An elf let the groups and continued her story. Then on to the Snow Queen. Where the Snow Queen told the children her story and the snow machine was set off to the delight of the children. This was great fun for the children and then to the lumberjack elves where the children decorated Christmas trees. Well planned out. Not too many things given at once. Well paced. At no point did the elves look to hurry us and parents could take photos and the atmosphere was friendly and jolly.
There were huge piles of toy sacks and candy canes and cute little snowy cottages as we went past. Even a glimpse at some llamas. Next we went to the sleepy elves where they were woken up and performed a song from Grease.
The highlight was the reindeer. It was just magical for my son.The children got to feed the reindeer who were just beautiful and the keepers explained everything to the group and took photos for us. Finally it was to Santas grotto. We went inside and the story was completed. He then spoke to the children. My son didn’t want to speak he was little overwhelmed by this big guy. This didn’t bother Father Christmas and he didn’t miss a beat when he said “I know what you want you don’t have to say. It’ll be right here in my sleigh”. He was delighted. Santa spoke to each child and then parents were invited to have a photo. There was absolutely no pressure. My son just didn’t want to, he was getting tired and we left (Christmas jumpers and all) but no problem we took some lovely photos outside.
I have to say, it was a wonderful day. I could also see they had listened to suggestions and each child and adult received lovely Christmas tree decorations as a souvenir. It would have been nice to take a few seconds to take more photos near the scenery as it was just so good but they run a tight ship. I have to say that it is really very well planned. The scenery is as good as what I have seen in the Lapland UK website.
It was just enough for us. One thing I really liked is as we assembled at a new point children were ushered to the front and they got the best view of whatever what happening. But we all had space. The groups were not huge and timed I’d say 10 or 15 minutes apart. The Christmas season has really started for us now!
Best bits: The reindeer, Santa’s Grotto, Elf School, the actors.
Worst bits: (Very clean but…) the portaloos.
I think we will be back next year.