As seasoned Santa visitors with our eldest aged 10 now, it was lovely to be invited to Santa's House Express in Palmerstown House to experience what they have there and bring our brood of three kids (ages 10, 6 and 3) to enjoy the fun.
The beautiful lights on trees and the various lighting displays really set the scene and piqued our excitement levels as we arrived through the inviting, yet grand gates and drove up the drive to the golf club where we were to check-in. Small things like lashing rain and Friday evening traffic on the M50 were not going to dampen our Christmas spirit. No, ho, ho way!
Archie the Bear greeted us inside the clubhouse building where we picked up our tickets and swayed children away from the sweet stand beside the check-in. We had a few minutes before our train was due so we checked out the funfair and squeezed in a quick go around the house of mirrors.
We were then brought to a "selfie" waiting area which was a large room dressed with lots of Christmas themed figures where we could have fun messing and taking photos to add to the festive memories. Then the elves brought us to Santa’s train which was waiting outside for us.
It meandered through the grounds of Palmerstown House, our destination. While the rain was fairly relentless, the train was a definite highlight for all three of our kids. It was lovely to go up the old steps to the beautiful venue in the dark with the twinkling lights all around us.
We were ushered into one of the elegant rooms where a genie told a story to the kids from a stage while interacting with another elf on a large screen that stood on the stage also. I’m sure this would grab even the most die-hard screen-using kids! It was definitely a unique approach to storytelling.
After this, we were taken to another room which was more traditional in its approach to Christmas. It was a beautiful, old-fashioned room with a big decorated tree and Mrs. Claus was there in her armchair by the fireplace with her storybook at the ready to engage, entertain and gear the youngsters up for the next part of their adventure.
At this stage, we could barely concentrate on the story for the excitement of meeting Santa in a few short minutes. Winding our way up the grand staircase, guided by an elf, we were brought to see the man himself who was as lovely as you’d want him to be.
Chatting to each of the kids on their own he engaged really well with them, with high fives flying around and chats about present choices and being nice and definitely not naughty. They were each given a wrapped present which was age-appropriate and a good activity for them.
One of the elves took a family shot on my phone of us all with Santa, although it would have been nice to have the option of a professional shot done. We’re suckers for the Santa framed photos – or fridge magnet anyway!
We then were whisked back to our starting point by train to go full-tilt in the funfair and burn off some of that adrenaline! We were very thankful for the hot chocolate and mince pies to keep us warm. The funfair was a throwback to funfairs when I was small, a more innocent time, and was lovely and simple. There were also a selection of animals in a sheltered area that you could look at, including deer, goats, turkey and chickens.
The highlights from our own VIP’s, which, let’s face it is the most important feedback, was:
Our 10-year-old boy: "I liked the setting and I also liked the funfair and the train was fun. I enjoyed seeing Santa. And the way you could see the deer was fun too."
Our 6-year-old boy: "The best bit was going to the mystery house in the funfair. And the teacups ride in the funfair. And meeting Santa. I was scared of the train…. in a good way!"
Our very nearly 4-year-old girl: "Me giving Santa a high five and him giving me a present. The spinning cups ride in the funfair. And the train."