By Anna Fortune
My two daughters, aged 9 and 4 are obsessed at the moment about Santa. It’s ALL about Santa, “Will Santa know…..”, “Can you ask Santa to….” “Is he coming to Ireland first on Christmas Eve?” Santa, Santa, Santa, morning, noon and night! But that has its own benefit. At every naughty turn, I’m warning “He’s watching you…..” In fact, with Christmas shopping still to be done and so many functions and events, Santa has become an ally in terms of parental control!
Last Friday evening, we made a family trip to visit Santa at Santa’s House Express at Palmerstown House Estate. We were booked in for the 8.15pm train, so decided to head early so we could grab some dinner first.
When we pulled into the driveway, the excitement in our car heightened, with every welcoming note left by the elves being read out loud by our 9 year old. She was ecstatic and totally engrossed in the experience even as we drove up the long driveway towards the Golf Club.
Once parked, we headed into the brightly “Christmasfied” Golf Club where we were greeted by the most pleasant, lively elves. We registered for our train (which did not include a queue, fantastic when you have a very impatient and over excited 4 year old!), and headed in to fill our bellies.
The atmosphere was uplifting, the room emanated with festive joy and happiness with plenty of other parents taking advantage of the delicious hot carvery food on offer, and having a night off from cooking!
After dinner, we headed back outside to visit the ‘real’ reindeers, a spin on the carousel, and won a teddy on the “Hook a Duck” – a super carnival atmosphere, and not a whinge from our two girls, or any other children for that matter – all totally engrossed in the Santa experience.
And then it was off on the train to the Manor House – or as my girls called it ‘Santa’s House’. Before we boarded the train, we had a dance with elves, got faces painted and met The Smurfs – all great fun and added to the excitement. When we pulled up to the Manor House, we experienced the light show on the Manor House at its full Disney-like affect, and everything looked so beautiful and magical, parents and kiddies alike were swept up in the ambience.
Once inside Santa’s Manor House, we were again greeted by super friendly elves who along with The Wizzard of Winter kept the children entertained and fully engaged in their fairy games.
And then it was onto probably the most important person for my 4 year old – Mrs Claus. My daughter absolutely adores Mrs Claus, and she was not disappointed. Mrs Claus was the most gentle and kind lady and chatted to all the children about Christmas and shared funny stories about Santa.
Then up the stairs we headed to visit the ‘Big Man’ himself. Our Santa was so lovely. He was sitting comfortably in a fabulous plush bedroom, surrounded by tonnes of wrapped presents – they were everywhere! And the children were in awe of the vision of some many presents! He chatted with my two girls patiently and we were under no pressure time-wise.
All questions were answered and the girls felt comfortable to keep asking them!! Again the helpful elves were on hand to take photos and then we were brought back down to our train. The girls were super impressed with their presents, which were age appropriate.
I’ve been experiencing Santa visits for 9 years, and this has been one of the best experiences. The elves, Santa and Mrs Claus were all so welcoming and wonderful with the children. The whole experience is well-organised, and there is very little waiting around in queues, which adds to a much more magical and relaxed evening. I would definitely be back in 2018! If only I could hire Mrs Claus or Santa to rule over our excited household in the coming weeks…..
Photos by Pat Tinsley
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