We were incredibly lucky to be invited along to experience Christmas at Marwell-our local zoo!
Having not visited the zoo myself for a few years I was really excited to go back, & show it off to my younger children who had never been! It’s safe to say they weren’t disappointed.
With its stunning medieval ‘Hall’ dating back to 1320, you couldn’t fail to be enthralled by the history of this fantastic building-welcoming you in with blue sky above & a beautiful Christmas tree standing proud at the entrance. We chose to meet Father Christmas at the start of our day(why save the best bit till last?!) & im so glad we did!
We waited patiently at the doors with a few other families & were met by elves Jingle & Belle, right on time.
We were welcomed into a magical land transformed with frosted trees, signs to never land & a huge ‘naughty or nice’ list on a screen surrounded by chairs, the children were fascinated to search for their names.
Whilst we waited to start the enchanted journey through the house we were offered Xmas tree shaped shortbread biscuits & juice, or mince pies & mulled wine for the grown ups(most welcome!) Beautiful light shows danced round the ceiling, of Peter Pan flying through the sky, the scene was set perfectly for a wonderful adventure.
Soon the time came for Belle to call us through to the most magical room. A huge chair sat by the fireside, where Mother Christmas took her place to tell us a festive story of never land. The children sat enthralled on log shaped cushions watching one of Santa’s elves act out the story with the help of a few trusty teddies!
After the story, a huge wooden door lead through to a workshop where our own little elves could set to work decorating a drawstring bag with Xmas tree motif. With fabric pens & glittery sticky shapes laid out on two long tables, their creativity could go wild, with plenty of time to decorate each of their bags, or write a letter to Santa to pop in the post box in the corner.
Having never met Father Christmas before, Annie & Will were so excited, that they didn’t quite know what to say when we were welcomed in to meet him. Sat by the fireside in a throne-like chair he looked just as the perfect Santa should. With a long bead, red suit & shiny black boots, & spectacles perched on the end of his nose!
Each child was given & gift & had a quick chat with the big man, a professional photographer was on hand to take a photo of them all & we were then on our way to the last room of our experience at Marwell Hall.
……With presents stacked high & a few more elves to greet us, it was the perfect end to our experience. We bought the photo you see above-Will was keen to show off his artist talents as you can see! Kids!
We let the children open their gifts outside. Sat on the huge stone steps in the sunshine it was just the perfect scene. Annie & Will received play dough & a magic set, & the older girls wooden puzzle sets-quite the brain teasers-perfect to watch Gramps struggle with round the table on Xmas day!
The rest of the zoo was just as brilliant as our experience with Santa-Will literally hasn’t stopped asking me when we can go back!
We were blessed with the most beautiful winter sunshine, so we strolled round for the next few hours, learning about snow leopards, Rhino & Sloths, with our favourite animal being crowned as the giraffe! The kids couldn’t believe how close up we were to these majestic giants!
At the top of Ruby’s must see list was the sloth in the new tropical house, but due to their uncanny knack to blend in perfectly with their surroundings we only caught a glimpse of one, so no great photo opportunity I’m afraid. However the rhino put on a full show for us, it must have been feeding time as one by one they trudged slowly down to their pen, up close they really are incredible creatures.
I think the sunshine really helped us to get a good look at lots of the animals, they seemed to be enjoying the warmth on their faces just as much as we were & as the park wasn’t at all crowded we got some amazing photos which we’ll print & put in a scrapbook so the kids can look back on our day with fond memories!
I’ve been recommending Marwell(at Christmas or any other time of year!) to my friends since our visit, we had the best time. Isn’t it funny you sometimes forget the gems right on your doorstep?! If you’re ever visiting Hampshire-perhaps staying in the new forest, you must plan a trip into your stay, it was so much fun!