If you’re looking for a truly beautiful day out with the family this Christmas, Santa’s Sleigh School at Bluebell Dairy is your answer.
With Tier 3 restrictions in place and already changes having to be made, we weren’t sure if it could have gone ahead or what to expect when it could go ahead, but in fact it was all that Christmas magic you dream of, rolled up in one.
We’ve visited Bluebell Dairy several times before, and always loved their activities and events, so we were really excited about this one, especially that it could still go ahead – not to mention that Lily has fallen in love with a Highland calf there at Halloween and now wants one for Christmas 😂
However, I admit that when we were driving up the main entrance in the most torrential downpours, I was getting slightly nervous about the event, knowing that it was all outdoors. We always prepare for the rain and cold, especially at this time of year, but this rainfall was pretty exceptional. However, I needn’t have worried – the team had made sure the event was perfect, even in very heavy rain!
We were given a timeslot with our booking and arrived shortly before this, to be able to use the toilets and grab a quick coffee from the café before we got started. We had come straight from football practice, so the warm drink was definitely needed, and even at 12pm when I expected the café to be busy, it was really quiet.
The entrance to the play barn was where we collected our wristbands from, so we picked these up and went straight in through the farm entrance to the marquee for our 12.40pm timeslot. The elves greeted us to take us to the first section of the event.
Santa’s Sleigh School
I won’t ruin the surprises for those who have booked, but it really was fantastic.
Santa’s Sleigh School was a kind of 5-stage interactive pantomime, with each section around 15 minutes long. From learning to drive your sleigh and Mrs Claus’ blackboard, through to the twinkly lights for your festive wishes, finished off with riding your sleigh with Santa, it was all so well organised. You even had a mid-way interval with hot chocolate, candy canes and the chance to post a letter to Santa!
It was probably most suitable for kids aged 3 and above as babies and younger toddlers may not have understood what was going on for some of the time, but Lily (age 5) found it absolutely hilarious. She loves interactive shows and there were jokes for the adults to enjoy too.
The twinkly lights with the magical glasses was really special, and I thought Lily was going to burst with laughing so much during the elf teaching us to fly the sleigh, but Santa really did top it off – he was fantastic.
At the very end, after seeing Santa (more below about how that worked!), children can choose a simple prize off a shelf, and the elf magically makes it appear through the chimney!
Even with the safety measures in place, the whole event was fantastic.
There were about 6 other family groups on our timeslot, and at each stage we had our own area – so hay bales to sit on, benches, or stars to stand on, to make sure we were all kept apart.
When we saw Santa at the end, it was lovely. He finished off the “show” with the end of the story that had been flowing through each of the stages, then came round to say hi to each family group in their ‘sleigh’. The elf was there to take a photo of each family group, with Santa aside each of the sleighs, so you could still get those lovely Santa photos too, in such a great way.
Once you had your family photo taken, the elf sanitised their hands and the group who had their photo taken could go to get their licenses stamped and little presents at the end of the journey. It meant there weren’t queues at the end and groups were well spaced out, which really did feel so safe.
You could also use sanitiser at the entrance to each of the sections to the event too.
There were also elves along the way to lead you around and make sure everything flowed well, meaning large groups of people weren’t congregating at any stage and it remained fun, safe and enjoyable for all the family.
We really did have a fantastic time at Bluebell Dairy for the Santa’s Sleigh School, even with the restrictions in place. What I do have to say, is that the staff were just fantastic at every single stage and they could not have been friendlier.
We had worried the sheer amount of rain would dampen things a bit, and the restrictions may lose some of thr magic, but with everything under marquees, we didn’t even notice the downpours, but still felt so safe. What’s more, the marquees were so beautifully decorated that we didn’t even realise we were still “outdoors”.
We finished off our visit with our usual “must-do” visit to the café again. It is takeaway only, but Lily managed to get her children’s meal (her morning football session had definitely made her hungry!), and there were also plenty of tasty treats and hot/cold drinks to choose from too. We even managed to pick up some farm-fresh milk, eggs and bread too… and of course some of the Bluebell Dairy ice cream!
It was just a brilliant visit and we really cannot recommend it enough – thank you to all the Bluebell Dairy team, you clearly worked so hard to make it amazing, even with the restrictions you had to work with – we will be back!
Tips and visiting information
- Under current restrictions (December 2020), some normal areas of the farm are closed, such as their animal encounters, indoor play barn and one of the play areas, however you can still visit the animals, use the jumping pillows, the sand pit and play area near the entrance.
- The café is open for takeaway only, however there are a whole range of hot and cold drinks, food and even festive (and non-festive!) ice creams to enjoy too
- Toilets are also open. We’d advise visiting the toilets before the Santa’s Sleigh School experience, so you don’t miss out!
- As mentioned before, it really is for all ages, but I think it is best enjoyed for children age three and above, where babies and younger toddlers may struggle to understand the interaction – however I do know it is fantastic for all the family, and the lights and decorations really were captivating
- The event is all under the cover of the marquees, but we definitely recommend wrapping up warm and wearing wellies or walking boots for the paths as it is muddy
- Due to social distancing, buggies are not allowed into Santa’s Sleigh School, however there is a small covered marquee to leave these in a dry area at the entrance to the experience