Tag Archives: Father Christmas

Christmas: The Polar Expedition at intu Trafford Centre

Over the weekend we headed off to the intu Trafford Centre for a visit to the Christmas grotto. This year the grotto in Barton Square has a Polar Expedition theme.

We arrived early in Barton Square and grabbed hot chocolates from the little Christmas market they’ve got there. At the appointed hour we joined the queue and had our names checked off the list by a friendly elf.

Our group were shown into a room decorated like a log cabin. The children sat at the front (adults on benches at the back) and an elf chatted to the children about the reindeer and about Christmas magic. We all repeated a rhyme, the door swung open and we magically arrived in the North Pole. 

Christmas: The Polar Expedition at intu Trafford Centre

We then waited in a room with animatronic polar bears and a lovely snowy enchanted arctic wonderland. The elves chatted to the children while we waited and the kids really enjoyed watching the polar bears.

After ten minutes or so of queuing, we moved onto my favourite part of our visit – the augmented reality experience. This was very well done and we spent a decent amount of time perched on an piece of arctic ice interacting penguins, seals, killer whales and polar bears. It was fab.

We then moved on to queue up to see Father Christmas, the queue was fairly fast moving and the room we were queuing in was as festive as it gets and very pretty. Very soon we were ushered through to meet Father Christmas who had a quick chat with the boy and gave him the gift of a little Playmobil set. We also had our photo taken which we picked up at the end.

Tickets to the Polar Expedition experience are £7.50 per child and £5 per adult. We were on the tour for around an hour and the boy really enjoyed his visit and chatting to the elves. I think it’s good value for money and the augmented reality part in particular was a real winner for us. 

The Christmas grotto is open until Saturday 24 December and it’s probably best if you book ahead if you can. You can find out more about the Polar Expedition and buy tickets on their website

We were invited guests of the intu Trafford Centre. 

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

One of my favourite things about Christmas is creating a bit of magic for the small boy. Having had a childhood filled with real magic, it’s only fair I pass some of that sparkle onto the next generation. Over the weekend the most magical Christmassy thing happened to us and the pure wonder on my son’s face is something I will hold in my heart forever. We visited LaplandUK and had the full Lapland experience! 

A few weeks before our visit I filled out an online form to give Father Christmas some extra information about Ben, then a personalised letter arrived for him which I put away for us to read the day before our visit.

On Saturday morning, our elf on a shelf Elfie brought a letter from Father Christmas. Apparently too many children had made it on the good list this year and the elves needed an extra pair of hands. Ben needed to go to Lapland to help out. We live in Manchester and LaplandUK is in Whitmoor Forest in Ascot, so we drove down the day before and stayed nearby in Bracknell.

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

We arrived at LaplandUK and we made our way to through a beautiful pine forest to the warmth of the welcome cabin. We checked in, the boy was given his Elf Passport and we were whisked off on a tour of the Enchanted Forest. We met a whole host of helpful elves, starting with the Elf Travelmaster who greeted us. On into the forest to meet Sage and Eeko, and through the magical doors to the toy workshop to help the elves make some toys.

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

The workshop was really beautifully decorated, if you look up and there’s a conveyor belt of toys doing circuits on the ceiling and three lively and cheeky elves busily keeping the production line going. Ben helped make two toys – a reindeer cuddly toy and a wooden teddy bear. He loved building the bear, and we slightly regret not asking Father Christmas for one this year. 

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

After half an hour or so of helping the elves out, we wandered some more through the snowy forest to Mother Christmas’s House to see what she had in her oven. She’d been baking gingerbread and gave everyone a gingerbread man to decorate with runny icing and sweets. It was sticky fun, but that’s the best kind of fun.

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

Once Mother Christmas’s kitchen was clean and tidy, she read us a lovely Christmas story and we headed back out into the snowy woods to explore the Elf Village.

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

You get around two hours to spend in the Elf Village, exploring and having fun. By the time we got there it was dark and the village was beautifully lit up with lights. At the heart of the village is an ice rink with a huge and beautiful Christmas tree in the centre. The village also has a small cafe, the Elf Post Office, the Elf Emporium, a large cafeteria style restaurant and a handful of little stalls selling mulled wine and bratwurst sausages.

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the Elf Village. I’m not allowed to ice skate and my husband had hurt his leg, so none of us were able to get on the rink, but we enjoyed watching everyone whizz by. Little ones could skate with a sturdy penguin figure to keep them upright, and there were a few elf helpers skating about to help anyone who struggled. 

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

The Elf Emporium was a huge and glorious gift shop. I spent quite a lot of time in there browsing and picking up a few things for home. I really liked the the restaurant, it had a lovely festive woodland feel and the food was very good. We didn’t have much to eat, just a quick snack really, but they had an interesting selection of hearty winter dishes to choose from at what I thought were reasonable prices.

The little cafe on the other side of the ice rink was the place to go for a quick snack or coffee and cake. We paid a visit to the Elf Post Office and we wrote a postcard to send home and I had a hot mulled cider to keep the chill off. Whilst we were in the village, elves and huskies wandered about talking to visitors, making sure everyone was happy and entertained. 

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

At the appointed hour, we queued up and we were shown through the forest, past the reindeer and the sleigh, up to a cosy cabin in the woods where an elf told us all about the journey Father Christmas makes each Christmas Eve. After a few minutes our name was called and an elf walked us through the Enchanted Forest to see Father Christmas.

His cabin was cosy. He sat in his chair and invited Ben to sit next to him. They chatted a while about Ben’s recent birthday party in the woods, about how he’s getting on in Beavers and about what he’d like for Christmas. Father Christmas thanked him for his hard work making toys and gave him a cuddly husky and a book to take home. We had our photographs taken, said our goodbyes and left the cabin in the woods with the promise to leave carrots, gingerbread and a drop of something warming by the fire on Christmas Eve.

Christmas: A truly magical visit to LaplandUK

It was beyond a shadow of doubt the best Father Christmas experience we’ve ever had. He was incredibly realistic and so believable I got festive goosebumps and a little tear in my eye. If it’s good enough for Elton John, the Beckhams and Strictly Come Dancing, it’s good enough for us!

It was magic. It was the real Father Christmas. It was a fantastic memory our family will treasure forever. Ben has done nothing but talk about his visit to LaplandUK since we got home. It’s filled him full of Christmas spirit and excitement. It was pure undiluted Christmas magic and wonder. We loved it. 

For more information about LaplandUK and to book tickets, visit their website.

We were invited guests of LaplandUK. All images and opinions are our own.