This weekend we were lucky enough to visit the opening of Groombridge Place’s Christmas Elfxtravaganza. We have visited Groombridge Place a number of times before and always enjoyed our visits, but this was our first experience of one of the many special events that Groombridge is famous for hosting. I’d heard great things about their recent Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland themed events so we were really excited to see what the Elfxtravaganza had in store for us!
From the moment we arrived at the admissions office the experience felt special. Christmas songs were playing at the entrance loud enough to entice us in from the car park, the perfect mood setter! With absolutely no queues at the admissions desk we were greeted by a chirpy member of staff who equipped us with treasure hunts, pens, maps and the lowdown on various festive activities. We were set!
We’d barely made it through the entrance before a charming elf greeted us. This was clearly a genuine elf because he knew magic! He wowed us with his ability to send a ball from his hand to ours….and then he cleaned Leon’s ears out with a red handkerchief…by posting it right through his head!! The children we utterly gobsmacked, and as parents we were thrilled to have this elf’s full attention..he was not only talented, but also fantasticly patient with all our little ones.
Walking through the cafe into the garden area we were greeted by a Christmas Wonderland of candy canes, giant sweeties, coloured baubles and glitter. Logan, who is only 15 months loved the bright colours and opportunity to explore the lollipops and other festive decorations on display. Daisy and Leon, in the meantime had discovered the craft activity tent. Here they could make reindeer food, write letters to Santa, create Angel decorations and make Christmas Cards. Not only were there plenty of pens, glitter, glue and coloured paper available…but staff were also on standby to help and guide the children through their activities.
Moving on from the main garden we decided to explore the Enchanted Forest before our appointment to see Santa himself. Usually you can catch a boat along a small canal to Crusoe’s World. Today the boat was unable to run due to the fact that the canal had completely iced over. Initially we were disappointed to miss out on the boat ride but as we walked along the bank we were able to watch the boat crew smashing through the ice. This was fascinating! The canal really was frozen solid and watching a team of hardworking staff putting their heart and soul into creating a path for the boat was transfixing.
The canal path led us straight to Crusoe’s World, an amazing play area with tree house, rope bridges, viewing towers and the odd skeleton! The children love it here, fully immersing themselves into a fantasy world of pirates, treasure maps and adventure. As part of the Christmas Elfxtravaganza Crusoe’s World is also the start of a trail of clue’s leading through the Enchanted a Forest and eventually to Jack Frost.
The clues take us on a journey of fun visiting giant tree swings, fairy dells, giant tee pees and Romany caravans. The Enchanted Forest is truly magical with charming features waiting to captivate imaginations around every corner. The forest trail leads us to the Boardwalk Challenge, a fantastic maze of walkways, tunnels, rope swings and zip wires. The Enchanted Forest is not only stimulating and completely inspiring, it is great for completely wearing out even the most energetic little people!
Finally at the end of the Boardwalk Challenge we spot Jack Frost! Yippie! We have completed the trail of clues and we can now enter the selfie competition that Groombridge Place are hosting on their facebook page.
Having spent nearly an hour and a half exploring the woods we head back to the main garden near the entrance…and most importantly to Santa’s grotto! There is an appointment system to see the main man with bookings needing to be made prior to visiting. We were greeted by Ran-elf who told us there was another family ahead of us and we had a 5 minute wait. Fortunately Frosty the snowman was passing to entertain the troops so our wait didn’t actually feel like waiting at all!
Finally it was the moment we’d been waiting for….Ran-elf guided us up the steps to Santa’s alpine style lodge where he was ready waiting for us. He called the children in by their names and settled us down next to him. This was clearly the genuine Santa because he knew several personal details about each of the children and was especially cheeky and jolly. Santa took his time with us telling us funny stories about how Rudolph’s trumps blow glitter into his face and Mrs Claus makes him eat broccoli. A truly wonderful experience that all of us, but especially our children will remember for a very long time!
Leaving the Christmas Elfxtravaganza we were all glowing with Christmas joy and plenty of fresh air. I was thoroughly impressed with the attention the elves were able to give our family, the organisation around slots to see Santa and the range of activities on offer….and to top it off Groombridge Place is an absolutely stunning location in itself. Groombridge Place Christmas Elfxtravaganza is not only an experience your children will cherish but I’m pretty sure you grown ups will enjoy it too!
Ticket prices are £12.95 for adults and £8.95 for children. A family ticket is £39.95. Families can pre-book to see Father Christmas for £11.95. Adults free with a paying child.