Maybe I follow too many family bloggers and it’s the FOMO speaking, but I feel as though myself, Danny & Remy rarely go on family days out. I’m aware that Remy is still pretty tiny and therefore not the most fun in the world, but I also have a weird guilt hanging over me that I should constantly be doing things with him.
So when we got invited to Lotherton Hall for The Christmas Experience, I was immediately dragging Danny by the hand across Leeds. Hailed “The Ultimate Festive Day Out”, I didn’t know what to expect (didn’t want to check for spoilers – now wish I had) but I was excited and ready to get Christmassy!
I’d already been pre-warned via email that if I chose to visit on the weekend, they were all out of Santa visits. We could only get there on a Sunday and I was slightly disappointed by this, as even though Remy couldn’t care less about Santa, I was low-key pretty excited to meet the big guy. Maybe next year.
We arrived in the sludgy mud and immediately regret not wearing wellies – every single family around us had clearly got the memo, and there we were in our Nikes and rolled up jeans like the hipster nobheads we desperately try to be.
Before I begin on the experience itself, let’s be clear that I’m reviewing this as a mother with a baby. The toddler experience will be next year, and I’m sure the years to follow I will continue to update with what we got up to, but for the purpose of this post I’ll be chatting about the appropriateness of taking a baby to Lotherton.
So, we arrived kinda late, maybe 3pm, and it was already getting a bit dark because Winter is a cruel, cruel time for us all. Now I thought that Lotherton Hall, as in, the hall itself, was just going to be a giant stately manor home that I would be wildly disinterested in, so I foolishly passed up on heading inside. Like I said, it was getting late so we were trying to skip certain bits out, but I’ve since found out that they have little dressing up wardrobes and all sorts of fun stuff inside so we will have to head back for the next event they do!
Our first stop was The Christmas Courtyard, filled with tables and chairs to sit at while you enjoy a hot chocolate or slice of cake from the takeaway kiosk. They’d really put effort into making it look beautiful and festive, with fake snow billowing out from a high up window, which all of the younger kids seemed to love playing with. There was definitely an air of excitement and happiness which was so lovely to see; like I said, we rarely do days out like this so seeing children that excitable is still a bit of a novelty to me.
We then noticed signs for a Wildlife World which I’d had no idea about – this wasn’t specifically part of the Christmas Event, but rather a part of Lotherton itself – it’s own little wildlife area filled with various animals including Danny’s favourite, the Capybara. We tried to pop in but were told that we’d just missed last entry, so we were only allowed a peek at the first few animals and then had to leave. I suddenly regret not checking up on activities and times beforehand as we’d definitely left it too late for all the good stuff.
We passed by the Santa’s Grotto section and I felt a little bit like it was a wasted trip; Remy had no idea where we were, there were no animals, no Santa, he’s too young to enjoy a hot chocolate etc. But it had such a magical atmosphere that I just wanted to stay and look around for something that we could enjoy.
We stopped by the little Woodland Play Area so that Remy could enjoy his first ever time on a baby swing. If I’m completely honest, me and Danny were definitely more excited than he was, as he spent the entire time trying to get the attention of the mama next to us instead! Very typical Remy.
Next up was Elf Village, which was absolutely beautiful; covered in twinkly lights and filled with cabins of activities for children, including story time, crafts & painting. Tokens for each activity were available to purchase, if I remember correctly it was £10 for 4 tokens, so 4 activities which seemed really good value for money! I was constantly saying how excited I am to come back next year when Remy is a bit more older and able to take advantage of all the fun things on offer, but as we have a while to wait for that, we filled our time by having a lovely little photoshoot in Elf Village, as he loved all the fairy lights on the trees and we all felt super chilled out and festive.
The main event we were looking forward to was the 12 Days of Christmas Woodland Walk, and it didn’t disappoint; I can honestly say all three of us loved it. There were some beautiful light installations for each of the 12 days, and loads of interactive stations along the way for the kids to get involved with. Like I said, Remy mostly just liked the lights!
Our time at Lotherton was nearly up, and the last thing on the list was to visit the Fairy Dell. We had the pushchair, so Danny took that back to the car and waited for us while me and Remy ventured down into the Dell. It was gorgeous how they’d set it all up – tiny lit-up models of a small village; a cinema, a church, a windmill etc. It really did look like a little fairy land! By this point Remy was sleepy and we were back at the car, so we called it a day.
In general, I would say it’s not an absolute must-visit if you have a baby, but tickets are £7.50 per adult and free for kids under 4, so if you’re looking for something cute and festive to do then it’s definitely a good shout, just be aware that what you’re paying for is a beautiful walk and not much else. Parents of toddlers and upwards, I would definitely say it’s worth going! I’ll 100% be back next year to get more involved x