Christmas At Marwell Zoo

It's a tradition to go and visit Santa in our family during November. It gets us into the Christmas spirit, which is what we need when both me and Scott work in retail! It also means that we have a really wonderful family day together that is full of festive memories. In previous years we have headed to local garden centres, but this year Marwell Zoo invited us to experience their Christmas at Marwell event to meet the man himself.

Christmas at Marwell runs from the 19th November-24th December and is based in Marwell House. As part of your tickets, you are given the opportunity to view all the animals in the park, so we headed down early and spent a few hours wandering around.

As part of the ticket, you can hop on the land train to take you from the main entrance to Marwell House. We timed our walk round to end at the house at our time slot so decided we would get the train back to the entrance of the park. Covered with lights and with giant baubles on top of each carriage, it was really festive and definitely got you excited.

The whole of Marwell House was decked out with decorations, with brilliant touches such as copious amounts of reindeer food and Christmas tree's galore. There's plenty of opportunity for photos! Upon entering, a cheery elf told Max that they were expecting him and to go and get settled. We were offered mince pies, mulled wine and blackcurrant squash whilst we waited.

There was a fantastic interactive board that showed the naughty and nice list featuring some familiar faces. The nice list included all of the children that were visiting Santa that day, Max was super excited to see his name on the board. Whilst the naughty list featured names such as Cruella De Vil and Team Rocket!

Soon enough, Mrs Claus was at the door, ready to take the children through for a wonderful story. She really went out of her way to make it magical by getting them to walk into the room like a penguin, settling on cushions on the floor. The story itself was a twist on Twas The Night Before Christmas, obviously with a Marwell twist. I won't give too much away but there was definitely some audience participation!

Once the story was over, a fairy took us through to a room full of tables ready for some messy fun. Each child (and big kid) gets the opportunity to make a fantastic and scrummy tree cone. This involved lots of buttercream and sprinkles! Let's just say we all had a bit of a taste as we put decorations on the cones.

Soon enough it was time for each child to be called individually to meet the man himself. We didn't have long to wait as the groups are kept quite small and there are lots of colouring sheets to keep them occupied with. Max had a sudden wave of shyness take over and was a bit star struck meeting Santa himself. It was such a magical experience and you don't feel rushed at all compared to other venues.

As with all Santa visits, Max was given a gift which he loves and is absolutely perfect for him. After meeting Santa you are shown through to the last area. This houses Pedro the Penguin who is fantastic. He spent time playing with the kids, posing for photos and generally being silly with everyone! At this point you can see the photo of your child and Santa and buy one if you want. As we had a 2:45pm slot, by the time we left the park had closed. We were then escorted back to the main entrance on the land train.

Christmas at Marwell is definitely our favourite Santa experience by far. I've never seen so much detail and care go into a memorable occasion for the whole family. It took just over an hour to complete the whole experience and it was worth every penny. Thank you so much Marwell for giving us such a brilliant and perfect memory that will last a lifetime.

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