I don’t know about you, but since having our girls I have this crazed obsession with making each Christmas better than the last. I put huge pressure on myself to ensure that we have squeezed the most out of every memory maker going. I am painfully conscious of the fact that there are only a handful years when our children will truly believe in The Big Man. The thought of wasting one of those precious years visiting a tin-pot Santa makes me shudder- in all the wrong ways.
This year there are only 6 weekend days in December to cram in as much tinseltastic memories as possible; ergo- planning is everything. Knowledge is power.
So without further ado, I would like to present to you the top 5 places to visit with your families in the greater Brighton area this December:
*Win a family ticket to Drusillas!*
Location: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS
This is one of my families favourite places to visit. We have annual passes and so you could say we know Drusillas inside out! Widely regarded as one of the countries best small zoos, not only can you enjoy seeing a wide variety of animals but the adventure park is something to behold! There is a large indoor play area, cafes, and my girls favourite: Hello Kitty world which has 3 brilliant rides – all included in your ticket price.
Festive Sparkle: A huge winter wonderland display comes to life after dark with an impressive animal themed Christmas light show all synchronised to music. There will also be an opportunity to meet 2 of Santa’s reindeer and husky dogs on selected dates.
Meeting Santa: The star attraction is Santa’s cosy cottage. It does look beautiful and has the winter wonderland laid out in front of it, making it all very magical. – With elves, and a big sleigh to ride too! The early Christmas gifts are really good quality – our girls still love their cuddly polar bears a year on.
Dates: Join the festive fun from Saturday 19th November until Monday 2nd Jan.
Meet Santa from Saturday 19th November (weekends only) and from Thursday 15th December – Friday 23rd December (daily).
Price: Normal entry price, plus £11 to meet Santa.
Location: The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL
Festive Sparkle: The ‘Santa Special’ trains depart from the Sheffield Park station (East Grinstead on the 23rd) for a ten mile round trip to the beautifully restored Horsted Keynes station with special Dickensian themed activities for you to enjoy.
Santa will be on the train to meet you and give a gift and treat to each child. Once at the station you can have your photo taken with Santa in his special cabin, and enjoy a range of Christmas activities, from Victorian street entertainers, to fairground stalls (20p a go – not bad). A right olde ye Christmas shindig then; lovely!
Dates: Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.55am, 1.45pm and 2.40pm
on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 23rd and 24th December
Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.45am, 12.30pm, 1.15pm, 2.00pm and 2.45pm on 17th and 18th December
Departure from East Grinstead at: 12.45pm and 3.30pm on 23rd December
Price: First Class: Adult £26.00 Child £14.00 Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) Third Class: Adult £21.00 Child £14.00 Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) -Not sure what happened to 2nd class?!
Please call 01825720806 for 1st class ticket bookings – these are very popular, so don’t be disappointed if you have to travel coach, it’s all fabulous.
Location: Tulley’s Farm, Turners Hill Road, Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 4PE
This farm has an outstanding reputation for its Spookfest, and puts the same incredible effort and detail into it’s Christmas experience. This is a whole day of specially crafted Christmas activities and delights for the whole family to enjoy.
Festive Sparkle: Christmas really did land at Tulley’s. You will journey on Santa’s sleigh, through a forest to reach Santa’s log cabin where you will be read a story by the man himself and the children will receive a gift star.
These activities are included in the main child ticket 1-13 years, and slight variations occur for Tiddler tickets and adults which are classed from age 14:
- Gingerbread Decorating
- Elves Magical Forest
- Story time with Father Christmas
- Build a Bear or Toy shop
- Real live Reindeer
- Sleigh Ride
- Post House
- Elf Hunt
- Puppet shows
- Christmas Shop
Dates: Daytime dates: 10am-5pm. Every weekend from Saturday 26th November – Saturday 24th December as well as these additional dates: Friday 9th December, Thursday 15th, Friday 16th, and then everyday Monday 19th – Saturday 24th.
Twilight dates: 4.30pm – 7.30pm 10th &11th December and then everyday from Saturday 17th – Friday 23rd.
Price: It’s complicated…
Daytime 10am-5pm: 26th & 27th November: Adult (14+) £8, Child £14, Tiddler (1-) £4
3rd & 4th December, 9th, 15th &16th: Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5
10th & 11th, 17th – 24th: Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6
Twilight 4.30pm-7.30pm: Friday 16th December, Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5
10th &11th and 17th – 23rd December, Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6
Location: Preston Manor, Preston Drove, Hove, Brighton BN1 6SD
Preston Manor is an impressive Edwardian house, which is the perfect setting for hosting a Victorian themed Christmas. There are very few dates available, but this really is a gem of a place and a slightly calmer way to celebrate than my other suggestions. I would say it would be of more interest to children who are school age and above, and ideal for anyone who doesn’t deal well in crowded places.
Festive Sparkle: A beautifully decorated manor house will transport you back in time, with special festive activities like dressing up and listening to stories which will all be going on throughout the house for the children. Father Christmas greets every child with a gift, at allotted time slots which are all pre-booked.
After you’ve met the man himself take a look around the rest of this delightful Edwardian Manor House. The Dining Room table is set as if a grand family of the period are about to take tea and Lady Ellen’s little Morning Room is covered in Victorian and Edwardian Christmas cards, holly and ivy and traditional decorations.
Dates: Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th Dec, and, 20th-23rd December.
Price: £8.50 to visit Santa, plus admission charges – Adult £6.60 Child £3.50
*Brighton & Hove residents will benefit from half price adult admission. Each half price adult can take up to 4 children for free. Please note that ‘visiting Santa’ charges still apply. ID and proof of address needed at time of booking to qualify.
To book call 03000 290902 or visit the Brighton Pavilion, or Preston Manor.
5) Spring Barn Farm
Location: Spring Barn Farm, Kingston Road, Lewes BN7 3ND
I adore this farm, it has a real family feel to it. It is small enough that it keeps a local vibe but big enough to warrant a full on day out. There is a large indoor play area housed in a barn along with an undercover small animal petting area, so rain needn’t spoil your day out. The shop is worth a mention here – it’s to die for with fresh local produce and gorgeous gifts.
Festive Sparkle: A large area of the huge barn turns into a winter wonderland for the season. The head elf will meet you at the entrance and take you through to make reindeer food, before writing to Santa. A special Santa-Mail letter box is waiting for your children’s letters amongst the twinkle lights and festive displays. Santa awaits you in his log cabin where children meet with him in family groups. You are then whisked off to the Elves workshop to choose a gift.
Dates: Nov: Booking slots available from 9.45am – 3.45pm on 26th & 27th
Dec: Booking slots available at 9.45am – 3.45pm on 3rd & 4th, 10th &11th, Friday 16th- Saturday 24th (last booking 3.15pm)
Cost: Child £13.50, Tiddlers 2 & under £7.50, Adult £7.50, Senior £6.50 plus admission price.
Have a brilliant time visiting Santa and getting all festived-up.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win tickets for a family of 4 to the fabulous Drusillas Park: