We were recently invited to visit The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm on the press launch day. Despite warning them that I’m mega busy with blog work and couldn’t commit to anything more than some social shares (ie. writing this piece), they were keen for us to attend nonetheless, which I think shows their pride in what they’ve put together.
Well, I have dug deep to find that time, so here’s my full review of the tour…
The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm: The Good
I don’t want to spoil it for anybody who goes along – and I bet there will be a lot of you. So I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say some of the winter scenes were magical. Put it this way – there was nothing like that around when I was a kid! The scale and level of detail of some of the settings were just incredible. I was completely enchanted – and I’m not an impressionable child! (To be fair, I am an impressionable adult – Lapland is my bucket list holiday.)
One aspect that really emphasised the fantasy of it all was the dedication the actors had to their art – they stayed in character and were totally committed to it, even when interacting with the adults.
They were very impressive, particularly if they’re not actually actors (I don’t know either way, but some looked familiar so may work there year round?).
There are also lots of bits and pieces handed out during the tour, including treats and gifts – there’s even a little something for the parents at the end (although it contains dairy, sob).
- Christmas Gift Guide for Toddlers to Tweens!
- Christmas Gift Guide for Working Mums – Plus an Incredible SIX Giveaways!
- Easy Dairy-Free Chocolate Truffles – Perfect for Christmas!
- Christmas Can Suck My Baubles
The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm: The Bad
Unfortunately there were a few issues which warrant a mention…
- In the first room you’re taken to there was a really irritating high-pitched buzzing sound which continued until we moved on (twenty minutes or so). I don’t know what it was and not everybody will find it as distracting as I did, but it really grated on my nerves.
- In another area where the children were decorating biscuits, there was a ‘smell’. I can’t be sure what it was, but I presume it was related to the marshes. Naturally we can’t hold a business responsible for that, but it’s not nice when handling food.
- The different areas of the experience were located on opposite ends of the farm. This won’t pose a problem for everyone, but it’s not ideal for small children, particularly in cold weather. (My hubby disagrees and says it adds to the adventure.)
- Speaking of which, though some rooms were toasty warm, others appeared to be unheated and it was blimmin’ freezing. If you’re looking for a positive spin, I suppose it added something to the authenticity…
The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm: The Cheeky
It was pretty disappointing that photos with Father Christmas were not allowed – because they were an additional cost. When you’re paying up to £46 per child, I think having a piccie chucked in as part of the ticket price should be a given. I’d like to see a basic photo included, perhaps with keyrings/snow globes/frames etc as an optional extra.
But probably the worst aspect in my opinion was the waving of items under children’s noses, and then handing a price list for those items to the parents.
It’s mentioned in small print on the tickets that there’s a Make-a-Bear activity and accessories are available at an additional cost, which is fair enough. What’s not really reasonable in my opinion is that those are clearly hanging up to entice your little ones – and in our case my older daughter was directly asked if she’d like one, before we were presented with a bill. #notimpressed
The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm: The Verdict
Can you see where the ticket cost has been spent? Yes. Is it magical? Yes. Is it a wonderful Christmassy experience for all the family? Yes!
But it comes down to value. And that is subjective.
Ticket prices for children aged 1+ are up to £46, dependent on the date you visit, and for a family of four you could be looking at £132. (Check out ticket prices here.)
My view is that the tour as it is, is fantastic for older children. However for youngsters under about four or five the entire event could be scaled waaaaay back without losing anything. Keeping everything more contained in a smaller, warmer area would definitely improve the experience for toddlers (and cold parents) and alleviate possible boredom.
Perhaps the ticket prices should be altered to reflect this, or maybe it could even be changed to two separate experiences, aimed at different age groups. Again, my husband thinks I have an unfairly negative opinion of anything below 20 degrees, so if you’re not a perpetual cold bod like myself, this may not bother you at all.
The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm: Tips
If you do decide to go along, I have a few pieces of advice to make it an awesome adventure.
- Wrap up. Take lots of layers. And a flask of tea (or something stronger perhaps? #jokes) if you really feel the cold.
- Wear wellies with good grip. It wasn’t bad at all when we went, but I imagine in wet or icy weather you’d be grateful for them.
- Go when it’s dark. Visiting ‘Ho Ho’ (as my daughter calls him) should be illegal in daylight.
- To avoid the most expensive tickets book before December: the sooner you go, the cheaper it is. (You also save on ticket prices if you have annual membership.)
Are you going / have you been to The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm ? I’d love to hear your thoughts!