Lapland UK - 2016 Review
I'm not going to lie, I'd been looking forward to going to Lapland UK since January. Seriously, so many people went on about it last year and by the time I got round to booking tickets they were all sold out so I knew we had to go this year.
So last week off we went! I didn't really know what to expect, I'd seen pics and heard the odd story but didn't actually know what it was all about. I'll apologise in advance as this review is a bit long...but there's so much to tell you!! Oh...if you're going soon and want to keep it all a surprise then stop reading!
The best way to describe Lapland UK is that it's a magical, interactive, immersive theatrical event. From start to finish you're there for 4 hours where you do everything from making toys at the toy factory, decorating gingerbread men at Mother Christmas' kitchen, visiting the Elf Village and of course meeting Father Christmas.
The whole process is so well organised. It actually starts a few weeks before your visit with a personalised letter addressed to your child. The beautifully presented letter is from Father Christmas telling your little one that he would like to invite them to Lapland as he needs help making toys. We gave this to our little one on the morning of our visit, she's 2.5 years old, there's no way she would have remembered if we gave it to her weeks ago but great for older children to build excitement. We had a 3pm slot so left around lunch time (nap time...result!).
On arrival to the forest we were directed to an available parking space and made our way to the enchanted forest.
Your first stop is the departure lounge where the little people are given their passports where they collect stamps throughout the day. Once through here we were all (everyone who is booked into your time slot) directed to the first room.
In brief this first room is where we met two elves who gave us a little history about where elves come from (pine cones obviously), they told stories, interacted with the audience and sung an elf song. We were in this room for roughly 15mins and the room is dark, except for twinkling fairy lights. The two elves then told us that we would be off to the toy factory to build some toys through a set of doors at the back. When these doors opened, there were actual gasps from everyone, as in the distance through the doors a narnia-esque winter wonderland awaited us all. I actually looked over at my husband and mouthed OMG it looked that amazing. We were sat near the back and all we could see through the doors were trees and trees covered in snow, the dark room made it even more impactful, it really was breathtaking...and I don't say that lightly.
We made our way out of the magical doors down a snow covered path and into the Toy Factory. Here the little ones made a wooden bear and stuffed a soft toy, our toddler enjoyed both of these and loved carrying her basket of finished toys over to the elves.
After the toy factory we went through some more snow covered, dreamy forest into Mother Christmas' kitchen, as well as having a normal door way to walk through there are also little ones for the children to go through...a massive hit with the children. Here we decorated a ginger bread man and all of the children gathered round as Mother Christmas read a Christmas story. In both the toy factory and Mother Christmas' kitchen each child has their own station, they are all made to feel included and that they are doing something very important. Parents are asked to sit around the edges of the rooms with the children either sat on benches or at tables.
The children took away their ginger bread man and then we were sent on our way through more snow covered forest (it really is worth mentioning every time as it's just so...CHRISTMASSY!) through to the Elf Village.
So here we had 90 minutes to kill, it sounds like a long time but there is a lot to do. The village centres around an ice rink (free), shops, post office and a restaurant. It's all themed and it all looks so amazing. There's a toy shop, bauble shop where you can buy personalised baubles, sweet shop where I picked up a secret stash of sweets, post office where children can write and post their letters to father Christmas, hot dog stand and a restaurant. We had a good look around the shops, the toy shop actually had some brilliant gifts for children which was a nice surprise from your usual gift shop merch. After a little shop we sat down to eat.
Even the restaurant looked lovely, the food was actually quite nice, for some reason I wasn't really expecting it to be. I had turkey pie (there is a veggie option) with mash and our toddler had fish fingers and seasonal veg. You can pay by card but it's worth noting that they don't take cash. You can convert your cash into Jingles, the official currency of Lapland. 1 Jingle = £1 and you can can change back any Jingles you have left at the end of your visit.
We'd been given a time (written at the back of the toddlers passport) to meet at the Bauble shop where we would be led to meet Father Christmas. So at 6pm we headed to our spot, from here on wards it's just you and your family. The three of us were pointed in the direction of even more snow covered forest and told to follow the path, it was dark at this point so everything looked even more magical, fairy lights sparkling everywhere. The path went on for a while, twisting and turning, the toddler loved running ahead and touching all of the snow covered trees. On our walk we saw the reindeer (I was wondering where they all were) and small toy workshops. This finally leads you into into a waiting room where you check in and wait to be called, there's a really buzz in the waiting room as you can tell, especially from the older children that they know they will be meeting Father Christmas soon. After a little wait an elf comes to collect you to see Father Christmas. More snowy paths follow (there are LOADS of them) and then you arrive....
I'm not sure how many Father Christmas set ups they have in the forest but we definitely met the real one. He was amazing and I'm quite a harsh critic when it comes to THE REAL Father Christmas (I'll save the story of when the scariest looking Father Christmas surprised the children at the library last year for another time) I was totally sucked in! He spoke to our toddler by name, he knew her age, her favourite things to do and knew that she had been to her older cousins birthday party the week before. He showed her his book which had a list of all of the names of the good children and pointed out her name and then gave her a gift to take home. She was totally spell bound by it all. He really took his time with us, there was no rush, he was happy to chat to us for as long as we wanted and I loved that it was just us in the room. He gave her a little toy and we had a photo taken (free).
After our chat we said our goodbyes, followed the exit signs and made our way out. It felt like we had been in the whole place for ages, 4 hours for a 2.5 year old is pretty good going she really did enjoy herself and was on such a high she didn't nap at all on the 1hr long journey home (that would normally be a given at 6.30pm).
So what did we think....well I've been to Christmas grottos before but Lapland UK really is on a whole other level. At no point does it ever feel like a show, all of the elves around the forest are always in character. Always. Everyone is, even the restaurant staff. The sets build are incredible, they have really made it feel as if you have stepped in to a magical world.
LaplandUK is amazing but it is pricy. It really is. We were lucky enough to be invited for the purpose of this review but for the three of us to go it would be a total of £226.50, which is a lot. Would I pay to go next year? Yes, I think I would. It is such a memorable day out and you can see where the money goes, it's a massive production and everything is just so spot on, I really couldn't fault it. We like to do one big Christmas day out each year, last year we got tickets to see a Christmas show at the theatre and tickets for that weren't far off the price of these. So next year, we'll save and make Lapland UK our big Christmas day out again.
For more info and to book your tickets click here.
- It's impossible to predict the weather but I did wonder what the event would be like if it had been raining all day.
-We packed wellies and rain jackets in the boot in case.
-Wrap up. The activities are all inside but the walking through the Enchanted Forest and the Elf Village are outside so hats, scarves and gloves are a must.
-We didn't think to bring a packed lunch but lots of families did. The restaurant area is really big, full of tables so you can take your own packed lunch and eat it there.
-Prams. We brought ours in with us. I'm not sure why now I think about it. The toddler didn't go in it once, so unless you have a little baby with you or the event runs into nap time, leave the pram in the car.