Drusillas Winter Wonderland Review

Drusillas has kicked off our festive celebrations in spectacular fashion!

This award-winning zoo has always been a fixture on our December calender since our little girls were babies. Drusillas seems to up the ante on its renowned Winter Wonderland year on year. Adding to its huge collection of impressive illuminations is a whole host of Christmas goodness. Drusillas is bound to leave the you feeling so festive that even your pile of Christmas cards waiting to be written shall no longer seem like such a chore (although a substantial glass of mulled wine is still  advisable!)


Meeting Father Christmas

The girls and I took our friends Amy, who writes at Bean Musing , and her daughter along on Saturday to join in the fun. We  headed straight for Father Christmas’ cosy cottage, why wait?! We were met by Mrs Christmas and her elves before being taken into meet the man of the moment. I think at this point I was probably more excited than the girls. Each time we have taken them to meet Father Christmas I always get embarrassingly emotional! I probably need to get a grip, but I can’t help but wonder at their little faces. They are totally in awe of this movie star figure, sitting right in front of them. Despite of course, my toddler repeating that she didn’t want to go anywhere near Father Christmas and that in fact, she would be perfectly fine standing right next to the door thank you very much. The elf and FC made a great team and looked like the real deal. There were no fake beards and cheap suits here: right before our eyes was a miracle on 34th Street Santa. I just managed to stop myself muttering “I believe”.

“Is he real?” whispered Darcie.

“Oh yes, he is most definitely real”

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Did I mention that the gift is gorgeous?! The girls were thrilled to reveal a cuddly Husky dog, just like the ones they were about to meet in the real. They didn’t let go of them for the rest of the day. It makes a nice change to have a decent, good quality Santa gift. I don’t mean that in an ungrateful way, but we have paid through the roof for some SuperTat in the past.

Fabulous festivities

The Husky dogs and reindeer had taken up residence  right next to the huge sleigh scene in the beautifully decorated festive square. We were able to go straight in and cuddle up with these gorgeous Husky dogs before looking in on Donner and Dasher who seemed right at home being the center of attention.

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You won’t believe what happened next…

We had some time before the illuminations show began, so headed over to the Zoo. The girls love the stamper book activity and ran around searching for animals. The meer cats are usually my high point, however today that high was handed to the penguins…

We had coincidentally just arrived as the penguins were being fed. Despite my frozen toes we decided to stay and watch, and I’m glad we did. Not only because the Penguin keeper was lovely and very knowledgable about her water babies, but because of what came next. A silence came over the enclosure as the keeper invited one of us 8 in the audience to, “Ask the question”. before we had a chance to exchange confused glances, the man standing next to us proposed to his girlfriend! Thankfully she said yes, their 2 children clapped, so we all clapped, with open mouths, min you, the penguins couldn’t have given a monkeys!

What a moment to share, huge congratulations to them. Could there be a Drusillas wedding on the cards?!

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

Back to the order of the day, and laden down with chips and hot chocolate we really got into the festive swing of things as the square came to life. Some of the best known christmas classics, filled the square, whilst the lights dazzled. Polar bears shone, ice caps sparkled and reindeer twinkled brightly. We couldn’t help but smile, sing and bop along with our little girls. It really did look beautiful, and yes, I may have welled up a little bit more – I can’t help it!

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Hurrah for Drusillas

Drusillas is a truly great day out at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. They have pulled out all of the stops this year to get you in the festive spirit.

Don’t forget the Zoo, Hello kitty rides, the vast adventure playgrounds, indoor play, Thomas train ride, and the Maze are open for you to explore as usual!

Drusillas doesn’t do bored

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Visit the Drusillas website

Book tickets 

Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS

 

 

 

 

Top 5 places to visit Santa near Brighton & Win tickets!

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:

1) Drusillas Park

*Win a family ticket to Drusillas!*

Location: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS

Drusillas Park: family ticket givaway


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.

More information on the Christmas festivities

Book your tickets in advance to bag a better deal

2) Bluebell Railway

Location: The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL


Think, Thomas the Tank Engine – with class!! My toddler is train mad, and I think this is where we are going to go this year.

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?!

More information on meeting Santa on the Bluebell Railway

Book tickets 

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.

3) Tulley’s Farm 

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

More information on Christmas at Tulleys Farm 

Book your tickets and celebrate Christmas, Tulleys style!

4) Preston Manor, Brighton.

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.

More information on Preston Manor

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.

More information on Christmas at Spring Barn Farm

Book Tickets

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:

Drusillas Park: family ticket givaway

Zoo should take full responsibility for tragic Harambe’s death, NOT the child’s Muma.

I have been following the story of the 17 year old Gorilla, Harambe’s tragic death with horror. Harambe was shot to save the life of a 4 year old boy who fell into the Gorilla enclosure at Cincinneti Zoo this weekend.

‘What if that was MY child’ – a line which seems to run through my head whenever tragic stories involving children hit the headlines.

I have also been paying attention to the barrage of abuse that the Muma of that 4 year old child has been facing, almost with more horror than the tale itself.

The daily Mail led with the story today claiming that the parents could face prosecution for their negligence, and ‘letting’ their child slip through the railings.

Excuse me? Prosecute a mother whose child was almost killed by an animal that has been described as “very dangerous” by Sharon Redrobe who is CEO of Twycross Zoo in the Midlands.

Surely the buck stops with the Owners and management of the Cincinetti Zoo for not having effective enough barriers between visitors and their dangerous animals. Surely the safety of their visitors is paramount, surely it should be the parents of this 4 year old adventurer that are prosecuting the zoo and not the other way around.

Children are naturally inquisitive, they are quick, and they love to play hide and seek: these basic instincts are not the fault of that mother.

When you visit a zoo or theme park you expect the correct safety measures to be in place. Tweets slagging off this Muma are totally uncalled for. Yes, it’s tragic, of course it is, not least because this Gorilla is so rare and endangered. But it is the job of the Zoo to keep its visitors safe, which is why their decision to shoot the Gorilla was 100% the only choice they could have made. Many have claimed that using tranquilisers would have been a better choice, but this could have taken up to 10 minutes to become effective and in that time the Gorilla would have almost certainly become very agitated, probably ending with lights out for the little boy.

So let’s not hate on this Muma. She probably has blamed herself and relived what she could have done differently, if anything, a hundred times and more already. That’s what I do when one of my girls has an accident.

The Zoo should have prevented this truly tragic event from ever happening.

The buck stops with them.