Sandcastle Santa!

A trip to a magical Christmas Woodland this time, courtesy of the wonderful charity The Sandcastle Trust. Their annual ‘Sandcastle Santa’ event means that dozens of families living with a rare genetic condition can choose a Santa experience near to them, and The Sandcastle Trust will make that Christmassy dream come true!

(Apologies for date stamp on photos!!!)

We chose to visit ‘Christmas Woodland’ at Blakemere Village in Cheshire. Christmas Woodland includes woodland theatre, magical characters, snowy scenes, songs, paths through fairy lit trees, a white unicorn and ends with meeting the big man himself in the North Pole.

There are good parking facilities at Blakemere and it was only a short walk down to the Cheshire Outdoors Centre where the journey begins. The entertainment starts as you are guided by your comical elf down to meet Furbal the Elf to introduce you to the story and journey ahead through the magical rainbow entrance. (Very impressed to see Makaton being used here!)

Although the hunt for Santa and the magic of Christmas takes place in the woods, it was very accessible and mostly a fairly level walk, other than some slight inclines, obligatory tree roots and rabbit holes. It was quite muddy and boggy, so even though it’s accessible for buggies, it probably wasn’t always an easy push. Emily needed her hand held all the way round as she doesn’t tend to see or adapt to slight inclines or changes in terrain, and would lose her balance very easily.

On your way around you meet lots of magical characters including a Scottish owl, Jack Frost, and even a white unicorn (won’t say too much incase it’s a spoiler!); and lots of quirky Alice in Wonderland style touches…

The trip ends with your arrival at the North Pole where you meet Santa and the children have the opportunity for a chat and to receive their gift.

We were then taken to the warm home of Mrs Christmas, a welcome chance to escape the freezing rain! In here you are entertained by Mrs Christmas and her elves, and the children decorate some yummy gingerbread men. On the way out parents even receive a gift of a bottle of local ale or a large Christmas candle!

At the end of Christmas Woodland is the opportunity to try some ice-skating and toast marshmallows on the firepit. We chose to miss out on this as we were so cold, and escaped to the Blakemere restaurant for a delicious Sunday Carvery! Again, good disabled access.

On your way around the Christmas Woodland there are lots of nice Christmassy touches to enjoy while you make your trip through the woods to meet Father Chrismas.

The Santa Experience at Christmas Woodland is £19.95 per person, or £27.50 for the Ultimate Santa Experience (which includes ice skating, gingerbread decorating and gifts for all).

It was fantastic to see Makaton around the Christmas Woodland, Blakemere worked with the Makaton Charity in order to promote this at their venue, a brilliant example of inclusion.

Thank you to the Sandcastle Trust, Christmas Woodland at Blakemere, and of course the big man himself – Father Christmas. Merry Christmas to you all!