If ever there was a year that we needed a bit of Christmas joy, it’s this one. Here at Little Vikings HQ, we’ve been determined to make the most of this December: the fairy lights have been up for weeks, we’ve been listening to Buble and Mariah on repeat since November and we’ve already worked our way through an embarrassing selection of Christmas films. One Christmas experience I thought we’d miss out on this year was a visit to Santa, with so many places around York cancelling their Father Christmases for understandable reasons.
However, a handful of attractions around York have decided to put all the Covid-secure measures in place and bring some festive joy to families by going ahead with their Christmas events, and Murton Park is one of them. It’s such a popular Christmas experience that it sells out very fast, with many families returning year after year. As a result, my carefree (disorganised) last-minute approach almost scuppered our chances of going. Despite the predictable sell-out, someone else’s bad luck was our good fortune, and we managed to get some returned cancellation tickets.
We headed along to Murton Park on a dreary Sunday in search of some festive cheer, and found it by the stocking-full. Rebranded for 2020 at ‘Santa’s Staycation’, everything about the experience was just jolly lovely. We were warmly welcomed onto the site around 15 minutes before our time-slot (a Christmas miracle in itself, as we’re rarely early), which the kids were pleased about as it meant that we had time to visit the cafe.
Sufficiently fuelled by crisps (other, more substantial, options are available but we were overruled), we made our way over to the entrance to the famous elf village. At the appointed time, our small group was greeted by a friendly elf and we began our tour. From the post office (complete with very jolly elf) to the elves’ houses, there’s lots to explore and laughs around every corner. The attention to detail is brilliant, all designed to entertain and cheer, and it’s clearly been put together with love. Everyone we met was so friendly that we needn’t have worried about the rain: everything seems bright and happy in the elf village. We loved seeing two of the elves, Bilberry and Cranberry, having a little domestic about getting stuck in a cracker, and younger children jumped at the chance to dance with Fairy Liquid.
Next stop was Santa’s twinkling cabin, and an audience with a very convincing Father Christmas. Each group sat on a separate bench and Father Christmas had a chat with every child from the front of the room – a generous use of his time, and something that the children really enjoyed. He happily posed for photos with every child too, and then they went on their way to the Magic Toy Shop with some Santa money in hand.
A quick hop through Santa’s house (so cosy!) and we were at the toy shop. There’s a lot to love about the fact that children get to choose their own gift: the likelihood of them enjoying it and hanging onto it is so much higher, which is great for parents and the environment. The downside is how long it takes some kids (ours included) to decide what they’d like when faced with a big selection of very appealing objects! Murton Park have thought of everything, however, cleverly displaying photos of all the toys on offer by age on the way up to the toy shop itself. That, and the fact that the elves in charge of the toy shop are BRILLIANT at guessing what the children might like, meant that it was a quick and painless experience – amazing. All three of our children were delighted with their gifts and, three days on, are still playing/creating with them today.
We finished our visit with a trip to Mother Christmas’s Bakehouse where we warmed ourselves up by the fire and enjoyed a mince pie. It was a lovely, warming end to a lovely festive experience. Full festive marks to everyone at Murton Park for pulling off such a fun-filled Christmas experience in this year of all years.