The Christmas spirit was lacking in the Little Vikings household as the weekend began, with all three children struck down with various winter bugs and barely able to get out of bed. But there must have been some Christmas magic in the air as they all woke up on 1st December feeling loads better and raring to go to Mother Shipton’s to meet Father Christmas on a crisp winter morning. This was our second visit to their Christmas Experience (and thank you very much to Mother Shipton’s for inviting us again), and we could tell as soon as we arrived that they’d sprinkled some extra fairy dust to make the event even better than last year. We were met by cheerful elves, Christmas trees and decorations galore, perfect to get even the most tired child in the festive mood (we had the earliest slot in the day, which meant Mother Shipton’s was nice and quiet but so were the kids!).
We started in the cosy cafe, decked out with (fake) furs, twinkling lights and even a polar bear or two, so the children could write their letters to Santa and think of a wish to hang on one of the wintery trees. Letters sent (via the special post office) and wishes made (LEGO and chocolate featured highly), we then headed to our meeting with Father Christmas. Elf Chestnut gave us a warm festive welcome and taught us his special and rather hilarious Christmas cheer before taking us through to meet the big man himself.
Thankfully, given that our youngest is always nervous about meeting him, Father Christmas was very friendly and it was a relaxed and positive experience for everyone. The children were all delighted with their gift, too. No spoilers, but every child is given something to take home that will be cherished and will last, rather than something that might break by Christmas morning! It’s a change from last year, when children were able to choose their own gift, but I think it’s an improvement. Last year, when they were faced with a toyshop full of options, they really struggled to decide what they’d like (which took forever, as any parent can imagine). They seemed much happier to have no choice, and we thought the gift was really nice.
After our visit to see Santa, we enjoyed some festive storytelling before heading to the toy workshop and doing a short toy-making activity. As they were in the mood for more hands-on fun (and sugar), we bought the children a gingerbread decorating kit each (£2 each), which kept them happily occupied while we enjoyed a mulled wine (included in the admission price for adults – another welcome change!).
Mother Shipton’s Christmas Experience was really magical, putting everyone in a jolly mood and making us forget the last germ-ridden few days. We always spend a bit of time in Knaresborough while we’re at Mother Shipton’s as it’s one of our favourite places. We crossed the river to the Marigold Cafe – our favourite – for some lunch and were lucky enough to see a kingfisher fishing in the water and some deer grazing. It doesn’t get much more magical than that.