Last week, two letters arrived for my little ones from Father Christmas, inviting my children to Lapland UK to help him and his elves get all the toys ready for Christmas. To say that they were excited, would be an understatement. In the run up to our trip to Lapland, I have never known my kids to be so well behaved, it was like magic! E would help her little brother to get dressed in the mornings ( and this has NEVER happened before), they doing as they were told and E even told me not to wear make- up because I was far prettier with out it..... it was obvious they were on their best behaviour in case Father Christmas' elves were watching!!
Lapland UK is based in Ascot, we drive this way quite often and it usually takes us around 45 mins from Chelsea but we got stuck in a huge traffic jam so we were cutting it fine. Our tour was booked in at 3.30 and we arrived at the car park at 3.25. We bolted over to the elf-check in, just as our tour was due to start and there was a queue in front of us. Fortunately, the 4pm tour wasn't totally booked up so the kind elf at the check in moved us up to the next slot so we didn't miss out on anything.
In hindsight, I would say, make sure to arrive at least 20 mins before your tour is due to start. That way you would have plenty of time to make your way from car park, which is rather large, to the elf check-in. There is a cafe at the check-in and elves on hand to entertain the small folk so you won't be at a loose end if you arrive early.
The children were given, elf passports with stamps to fill in throughout the tour, it also contained words to the songs that the elves would sing later on.
Whilst we waited for our tour, the children were entertained by a funny little elf called 'Porter' whose suitcase kept falling open to reveal presents, giant acorns and all sorts of bits and bobs. All the kids kept helping her pack her suitcase only for it all to fall out again, they found it hilarious.
The tour began with a short interactive play where we met two elves called Sage and Eeko. The play fun and yet informative, with a story explaining where elves come from and then teaching children the importance of caring for our environment. The elves then helped the children open up the doors to Lapland and we caught our first glimpse of the magic that awaited us. Tiny little elf cottages dusted with snow, nestled within Narnia-esque woodlands, I can imagine that as a child I would really have believed that we had been magically transported to a far away land.
Our first stop was the toy workshop, Santa's good list is super long this year so the elves needed some extra help to get all the toys ready.
The children helped the elves make a stuffed reindeer toy, which reminded me of 'build-a bear' and they also helped construct a teddy bear made from wooden blocks.
At the end they had to take the finished products back to the elves. I was a little concerned that we'd have a bit of a struggle handing back the toys but, miraculously there was no trouble.
Next we moved on to Mother Christmas' kitchen. The children sat and listened to magical stories told by Mrs Christmas and then they were asked to decorate gingerbread men.
We were then shown to the elf village where we had an hour and a half to entertain ourselves. The village is an adorable little square with christmassy shops and places to eat, all built around an ice rink which you are free to use for as long as you wish during your visit. We skated for a while and then explored the village, there were elves strolling chatting to the children and also very well behaved husky dogs. We found the elf post office and went in to write and post our Christmas letters to Santa.
What truly amazed me is how the 'elves' are constantly in character. At one point I crept off to buy some Christmas pressies and I passed some of the elves chatting together. I don't think they saw me and there wasn't really anyone around, yet they still kept in character! This authenticity is a theme that runs throughout Lapland UK and that's really what sets it apart from any other Christmas experience.
Our time at the elf village was up and finally it was our turn to meet the big guy himself. We set off on a path that took us through a winter wonderland, we even came across Santa's sleigh and some of his reindeer.
We arrived at a little cabin, deep in the forest. We were greeted by an elf called Compass who told us that he was in charge of preparing the routes for Santa to take on Christmas eve. His desk was full of maps, globes and all sorts of fascinating equipment. He asked us to sit and wait our turn to meet Father Christmas.
Father Christmas himself was brilliant and very patient with the children, who had so much to tell him! When I booked our tickets I was asked to give them some hints about things that the children had been up to which Father Christmas worked very convincingly in to the conversation, they were so excited that he knew what they had been up to! He checked his good list to see if they were on there and miraculously ( for Rufio especially) they were indeed. So Father Christmas asked us if they were allowed a small gift before Christmas and he gave them two soft and cuddly husky dogs.
I really can't describe to you how magical they whole day was, as we left my daughter said to me that it was the best day out that we have ever done as a family.
Yes, the tickets are eyewateringly expensive but when you break down all the activities through out the day then the price starts to make a bit more sense. I would find it easier to justify the cost if I thought of it as a theatre trip, craft, ice skating, family adventure day all rolled in to one, and on top of that you get to meet Father Christmas too.
The overall level of thought and care that has gone in to creating Lapland UK is just immense, with incredible attention paid to even the smallest details, making it a truly believable and magical experience.
If you do one thing with your children this Christmas then make it a trip to Lapland UK!