Santa's Grotto at Bridgemere Garden Centre - Review

Friday, 30 November 2018

We were fortunate to be invited along to do a review of the Santa's Grotto at Bridgemere Garden Centre near Nantwich, which is part of the Wyevale Group.

We used to make an annual visit to the Winter Wonderland at World's End, Wendover and it became a bit of a family tradition. Then we moved away so we couldn't visit anymore. I jumped at the chance when we were invited to meet Father Christmas and review the experience.

The Grotto is situated amongst all the Christmas decorations and displays. You do need to book in advance for the Grotto and full details can be found on the Wyevale website. We arrived 10 minutes or so before our chosen time slot and collected a time card then took a little wander around the Christmas decoration displays before heading back at 2.30pm. There was a small queue of other people with the same time slot. I think the maximum number of children per group is 10 accompanied by a maximum of 2 adults per booking. I don't think you'd want anymore than that.

I was impressed that it was running pretty much to time so we didn't wait long before being welcomed in to Mrs Claus' kitchen. She was there with her Elf assistant.

If you don't want too much of a spoiler, then please skip this paragraph! Mrs Claus' spoke to the children and then there was the opportunity for each child to 'plant' a magic bean. The kids were each given a plant pot, then some paper tinsel as soil and a white bean to plant. They wrote their own names on plant markers to identify each child's pot. These were then put in to the 'Magical Sprouting Chamber'.

The room was beautifully decorated. My only feedback was that Mrs Claus' spoke quite quietly so you had to listen very hard in the room filled with people and small children. Also the characters could have been a little bit more animated to really engage and enthuse the children.

Another Elf appeared and took us to be introduced to Father Christmas. The room was quite large with lovely decorations. Father Christmas was in one corner next to a a beautiful tree. Along the back wall of the room were displayed all the present toys which the children could choose one from.

You don't actually get a personal experience with Father Christmas but the kids just take it in turns to have a chat with him. He was really lovely and spoke nicely to the kids asking them questions. I was conscious that other people were all watching and waiting for their opportunity but it didn't feel like you had to rush too much. There was plenty of opportunity to take your own photos and unlike a lot of other Grottos, there's no official photographer. We took some pictures just of the kids and then asked another family to take some family photos of us. I'm really pleased with how they've come out!

The kids then moved away to the toy shelves to pick from the wide range of toys available for all ages. It was quite hard to make a decision, particularly for Miss A. In the end, after a lot of deliberation, she chose a Reindeer soft toy and we helped Master R choose some toy cars with a play mat.

I was expecting this to be the end of the experience but then we all lead into another room where we met a third Elf in the Elves Garden. We had to repeat the magic spell and Miss A got to hold the magic wand so she was chuffed! The Potting Shed was then opened to reveal real mini magical Christmas trees which had 'grown' from the magic seeds. This was a really nice touch as each had the child's name marker on it.

The space around the potting shed was quite tight and felt a bit cramped for the children to see and then it suddenly did feel a little rushed to leave at this point. I would have liked to have a little more time to look at the lovely displays in this room. A lot of work has gone in to them and nice detail, but I think our time was up. As we left, the kids were presented with a paper bag filled with decorations for their trees. Some baubles, ribbons and thin tinsel. The kids set straight to work decorating their trees when we got home - here's the finished result!

We spent some more time looking at the decorations and gave the kids the chance to pick a new decoration each for our own tree at home. Plus bought a few other decorations. Each weekend the Garden Centre have additional Christmas activities on. That day it was face painting but the lady was just packing up by the time we passed her table. It's worth looking at the Bridgemere Facebook page for details of what's on. As well as the Christmas displays, there is also a Snow Globe. They also offer the chance to book Breakfast or Tea with Santa.

I hadn't really planned where we were going to go to see Father Christmas this year so was very grateful for this opportunity to see him at Bridgemere Garden Centre. I deliberately hadn't looked at too much information before our visit so I could give it a fair review with not too many expectations.

The Grotto costs £10 per child but you don't have to pay for accompanying adults, which is good. Initially I thought the toy value was a bit low compared to our experience a few years ago at World's End. However, I was impressed that the kids not only got a toy but a mini tree plus a good amount of decorations so I think you do get your money's worth. 

Find out more about the Christmas Grottos at Wyevale Gardens Centres and book online. Each Grotto is different. You can also read more about our experience of the Christmas Grotto and Winter Wonderland in 2016Winter Wonderland in 2015 and the Winter Wonderland in 2014.

Disclaimer:  We were kindly provided with free entry into the Christmas Grotto in return for this review but all opinions are my own.

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