Dear Mummy, we had an amazing time when we visited Marwell Zoo recently. We saw the zoo transformed into a winter wonderland for their 2017 Christmas event. We had the opportunity to walk around the zoo and meet Father Christmas and his elves at a special Christmas grotto and interactive walk-through experience.
We enjoyed jumping on the farm train decked out in festival decorations as we traveled the short distance from the entrance to the centre of the park where the Christmas experience starts. It’s in Marwell Hall with glittering illuminated trees and beautiful topiary reindeers outside.
Right from the start Marwell Zoo staff were friendly and festive making it a lovely experience for the whole family. Paths were lined with twinkly trees which would look spectacular at dusk. Our experience wasn’t until 12:30 and the magical Christmas tour lasts around an hour. While we were taking photos outside Marwell Hall, we could hear adults gasp in delight and giggles from children as they were greeted by Jingle the Elf and Belle his little helper. I found it highly amusing that together they were called Jingle Belle! While we waited to enter the big manor house we sat in a lovely room decorated like a winter forest. Big folk could indulge in a free hot cup of mulled wine while kids got a tasty shortbread reindeer to munch on.
There was a large TV screen in the room with a naughty and nice list and my folks liked finding the villains on the naughty list while I panicked thinking I was on the list too! Luckily I found my name on the nice list amongst all the other children visiting. After a short wait chatting to elves, a large oak door opened and we walked through to a magical fairy glen. We were greeted by Mother Christmas and Sugar Plum the elf and sat on cushions to listen to a story. Adults sat on benches behind us while twinkly lights lit up the room with a white ice glow.
Mother Christmas read The Nutcracker, complete with puppets and music. She caught us quite by surprise when she burst into song singing Doll on a Music Box. With such a wonderful voice everyone was mesmerised by her performance and actions. Afterwards another large door was opened where Ginger Snap the elf guided us into the Elf Workshop. With cookie cutters on the tables at first we thought we were going to do some baking however we made a less perishable keepsake to take home with us – a Christmas Eve plate we decorated by hand.
We used supplied porcelain pens to create our masterpieces and I had fun drawing a blue carrot and two mince-pie outlines and signing my name on my plate. A padded envelope was provided to make sure it was protected, however ours smudged slightly as we didn’t give it enough time to dry before being ushered to see father Christmas in the next room. We just about had enough time to write a letter to Father Christmas and put it in the special post box. My mummy was very impressed with all the large decorations however wasn’t particularly keen on the red lighting which made it hard to take photos in the elf workshop.
My excitement was at fever pitch when my name got called to see Father Christmas, a lot of other children (younger than me) pushed through desperate to see him as well, thankfully an elf was on hand to crowd control. I loved speaking to Father Christmas and he was very personable and mild-mannered. There was a photographer on hand to capture the moment and next year we’d love to see this included in the price of the tour. Printed photos cost an extra £7 each which was a nice keepsake and we were also sent a digital copy to our email address. I was really impressed with the gift that Father Christmas gave me, so much so that I ripped open the paper before my mummy had a chance to tell me to save it.
One of our highlights was right at the end of the tour where we got to meet Pedro the huggable penguin. He was a right mischievous character and welcomed kids to the end of the tour, played games with them and stopped for photo opportunities. Pedro even tried to stop me leaving much to my mummy’s amusement. From one fluffy penguin to the next we had the opportunity to see the real ones after our Christmas experience as entry to the zoo was included in the price of the event.
Address: Marwell Zoo, Colden Common, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1JH. The Christmas event runs from November 18th until December 24th and costs £25 per adult, £28 per child, £15 for toddlers and £7 for infants. Booking in advance is recommended as the event at Marwell Zoo is very popular and we can see why!
Love Bella x
Disclaimer: We were offered tickets to Christmas at Marwell in order to conduct our review. All thoughts and photos are our own.