BC (before child) I had heard about Thursford from my in-laws and I thought it was generally a place old people went to at Christmas to watch the ‘Christmas Spectacular’ show (acrobats, singing and dancing and stuff). Some of their older relatives came on a bus all the way from Preston to go. Apparently Thursford is the type of place you can go to on a coach holiday! They suggested we go once, and I poo-pooed the idea… Probably not my thing, I’m too young and cool for that…
It was on the news a few years ago that Will and Kate went to Thursford. That slightly got my interest but I still didn’t think we’d go until we had kids.
Then last year, two of my friends went along, not to the show, but to see Santa. I didn’t know there was another bit to it, and they all raved about it, saying although slightly pricey, it’s the best Santa experience in Norfolk. You get a great gift and you walk through this Christmas wonderland full of twinkly lights. It sounded good.
So this year we bought tickets. Not that cheap at £16.50 for Miss Belle (which includes her gift) and £10.50 per adult. You get allocated a time slot and this is when your “journey” begins.
The magical journey
We arrived a bit early and were asked to join the queue straight away. My friend told me to take our time as once you get to the end to see Santa you can’t go back through to look at the lights etc. She said you could spend a good hour in there. She wasn’t wrong! As soon as we walked in I realised what everyone had been on about – it was so magical!
There are scene after scenes of different woodland characters and then penguins, snowmen and elves. You can tell so much thought and detail has gone into how it is laid out. At first Miss Belle was a bit apprehensive of the giant stuffed animals, but once she saw the penguins, snowman and other life like animals and characters, she loved it. The animated characters are Santa’s helpers. As you walk through further towards Santa’s house you could see them making the toys in Santa’s workshop. It’s brilliant!
You really do have to go to appreciate it, and my photos won’t do it justice, but here are a few…
Once past the toyshop, all the elves are packing up Santa’s sleigh and that is where the journey ends. Then some elves greet you ready to go into Santa’s house. There are two doors (presumably for two Santas to speed things up). Once inside the wooden house you get to meet Santa, and as Santa’s go, he was very good. He was well in character and very charming when he spoke to Miss Belle. He knew her name and asked her if she’d been a good girl this year and what she wanted for Christmas. To which I said a baby (not a real one – a toy!). You’re only allowed official photos in Santa’s house, so we said we’d give it a go. There’s no obligation to buy it if it’s not a very good one. I had held Miss Belle up to this point and wasn’t sure if she’d cry when I went to sit her next to him, but she was fine – win! And for £8 we got a lovely photo which we can treasure forever.
A few extras
Once you come out of Santa’s house there are a few windows looking into a sort of warehouse where all the presents are wrapped waiting to be given to Santa. There’s a cafe which does light lunches. There’s also a mini theatre which shows a couple of 4D shows and a laser show. We had half an hour to wait for the next show so we grabbed a cuppa and a mince pie and Miss Belle opened her present. She got a set of blocks with numbers, shapes and fruit and veg on. It’s a decent high quality gift so I think you get what you pay for. We then watched the 4D animation of Rocket Rudolf. (Note to self, toddlers will not wear glasses required for a 4D film!). It was only short and there were bubbles flying out over us so she was happy.
We were only there about an hour and a half and I think if we’d have realised we would have taken our time even more. But we stopped for plenty of photos and weren’t rushed by anyone.
I was so surprised at how good Thursford was and I already can’t wait to go back next year. It’s such a wonderful place and I’m now up for going to their Christmas Spectacular show. From what I gather it is family friendly and suitable for older kids, so hopefully we can make a bit of a tradition of going.
Thursford is a tucked away towards North Norfolk, but it’s well worth the trip. It was a lovely way to spend the weekend with Matt’s parents and it’s got me right in the Christmas mood!