You may have heard of this magical place situated in an enchanted snow-covered forest? Well if you haven't (where have you been?) check it out, LaplandUK, is home to one of the most amazing Christmas experiences ever.
Over the years I have watched friends post pictures on social media of this wondrous land and I feared we were running out of time to make a trip there before the small folk got too big to believe in the magic.
Yesterday did not disappoint at all - we made the 40 mile trip to the Whitmoor Forest in Ascot, Berkshire to go and see what the elves would have in store for us.
Now, I am a person who likes to be aesthetically pleased - before you even arrive at LaplandUK your children will receive invitations in the post from Father Christmas and they are beautiful. We waited until the morning, popped the box in the freezer over night, so when the children opened the box, the invitations were cold and frosty.
When you arrive the attention to detail is fabulous, log cabins, sledges, glowing lanterns and snow.... lots of snow.
We arrived half an hour before our check-in time and the children were given their Elf Passports and a pin badge. We were put into team Reindeer. The check-in area is fantastic to look at too. There is a cafe area here where you can buy pastries, cakes and drinks.
Our tour began at 10.30am - we were greeted by two elves who gave us a little talk about what would be happening then we were lead through a doorway of suitcases, a tunnel of twinkly lights and into a magical forest.
Here we sat around a huge tree with giant pine cones (elves are born from pine cones don't you know?) We had a little fun with Sage and Eeko, the woodland elves, who told us a story before our herders came to collect us. You will either be in Husky or Reindeer herds.
Our herder lead us through winding snow-covered pathways to a large log cabin - the small folk were separated from us big folk and they were lead through a small door into Whittle the toymaker's workshop. It's amazing inside, the children all sit at work benches, there are mechanical turning cogs on the ceiling and drawing boards with blueprints, rocking horses and tools. The kids all got given a demonstration from Whittle, Conker and Wish on how to stuff polar bear teddies. Each child got to make one and then the teddies were sent away to the wrapping room.
The next quest was to visit Mother Christmas and decorate gingerbread. Again a beautifully, authentically decorated room was all set out for the children. First they all sat down on benches in front of Mother Christmas before being lead to their work bench which was set out with an apron, a gingerbread Christmas tree, icing, a paint brush and some sweets. After they had finished Mother Christmas told the story of Minikin (plus they get to keep their cookie).
It was time to be led through to the Elf Village - We had a good hour and a half to spend here. This is where you'll find the ice rink, the Elf Emporium, Pixie Mixie's sweet shop, the restaurant, the Elf Post Office, Bauble shop, food stalls and of course the huskies.
The ice rink was lovely, the kids really enjoyed this and would have happily stayed on all day. There are penguins to hold onto for smaller kids but Finley decided to let go and have a try. He had the skates that can attach to your shoes, the rest of us used the single-bladed ice skates. He fell over a few times but got back up and kept going.
The shops are beautifully decorated and there are plenty of souvenirs to choose from. If you take your Elf Passport to the Elf Emporium you can get it stamped and earn your golden bell. Expect to pay from £6 upwards for Bratwurst hotdogs and anything from 50p upwards in the sweet shop. You can exchange your human money for Jingles when you arrive. The shops don't except cash but you can pay with jingles or cards.
On the back of the Elf Passport you will be given a time to see Father Christmas. We were set for 1.30pm - so we found our herder and headed through more snowy walkways until we reached the reindeer and Ambolt's Forge. In here you'll see Santa's Sleigh and you can buy souvenirs too.
The next stop is the big man himself. The children are led into a waiting room - decorated with maps and globes. They are then called in to see Father Christmas. The look on their faces was priceless - Santa knew things about them and checked his book to make sure they were all on the good list - phew - thankfully they were. He asked if they were allowed an early Christmas present and they were each given an toy husky. Finley was awestruck - how did Santa know we went glamping in a yurt?
We headed back towards the Enchanted Forest where we picked up our complimentary photo of us all with Father Christmas and had a little look around the gift shop before heading home.
A completely amazing experience for all ages. My eldest loved the ice skating and everything in the elf village (she's 11), Shannon (9) loved absolutely everything about it. Finley is 6 (just) he said it was awesome, he didn't want to go home and has asked if we can go again. It may be an expensive treat but totally worth every penny. Every activity is included in the price, extras would be gifts or food that you may want to buy, the husky alone that they received is a lovely gift.
We highly recommend LaplandUK - keep up the good work and keep believing - #ItsTrue.
If you would like to hear another family's opinion read this post from Big Family Little Adventures.