Pure Christmas magic with Hollywood sets, real huskies, reindeer, elves and astonishing effects
There is a precious and fleeting window for Christmas childhood magic, searching the night sky for Santa’s sleigh and breathlessly leaping out of bed the next morning to find his stocking gifts.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to visit LaplandUK in those wide-eyed early years, do. They will never forget it. And neither will you.
The magic starts long before our feet crunch through the snow of The Enchanted Forest, where we will discover an astonishingly detailed, secret Elven World.
Days before our visit, our children receive personal, icy cold invitations from Father Christmas himself, sealed with his wax stamp in a beautiful box, along with postcards to save for Christmas Day and a copy of the Lapland Times.
We build their fizzing excitement by reading the beautiful, LaplandUK books about Father Christmas and the Elven World, to familiarise them with the extraordinary characters and places they are about to encounter.
Finally, the day arrives and we are as excited as the children when we head into Ascot’s pine forest to begin our jaw-dropping, four-hour experience in this intricate and sprawling world, created with Hollywood set designers.
We begin at the Woodland Check In, a giant, elven yurt, bursting with music, excited elves, twinkling lights and wintry foliage. Children receive their Elven Passports and get them stamped to allow travel along the secret pathways, while animated elves entertain guests on a stage in the centre of the room.
The Travelmaster and Porter finally reveal a secret door behind a bookcase, which leads us into an otherworldy and breathtakingly dramatic glade, where we take our seats around a tree straight out of a fairytale, pulsating with flickering lanterns.
Eeko the elf and Sage, keeper of the key to the magical doorway, teach us the secret pass rhyme which the children chant, until the door begins to glow and a beam of light cuts through the glade when finally, the magical portal opens with billowing, rainbow smoke, which thins to reveal a flurry of snow and a shimmering Lapland world beyond, including the grand toy factory itself. The awe and excitement on our childrens’ faces is everything we came for, and we haven’t even entered Lapland yet.
Once through the gateway, our children gleefully run through the snow-capped trees, exploring the village of beautifully intricate, wooden elf houses emblazoned with, “Conker” “Pixie Mixie” or “ Pumpernickel,” the names of the elves they have obsessed over in Lapland’s books and will soon meet.
We arrive at the Toy Factory. Conker greets the children at a tiny, circular “Elflet” door, while adults head through the main door, where the children help Whittle and Conker make cuddly rabbit toys, during a slapstick and magic-filled show from the elves.
Once finished, our children (slightly grudgingly) hand their creations to one of the elves, but in a lovely twist, these are discretely returned to parents at the end of the experience, for children to open on Christmas morning as a thank you from Santa. The children are made honorary elves by the Elf Council and we follow the smell of gingerbread, like festive Bisto Kids, to Mother Christmas’s kitchen, where the children decorate freshly baked gingerbread men, before enjoying storytime with her, while munching on their creations.
Deeper into the forest, we arrive at my favourite part, the Elven Village. It’s fizzing with smiling elves preparing for Christmas and chatting with children, real huskies to stroke and a vast and lovingly created world with astonishing detail. You have around 90 minutes to explore this area, which you can cram a lot into.
We begin at Elva’s Post Office, a cosy lodge, with handwritten envelopes to Santa snaking along the ceilings and walls, where our children write their letters in front of a twinkling Christmas tree before posting it at the Santa Mail Box outside.
Next, we glide around the frozen pond in the centre of the village, framed by twinkling, snow-covered trees, with friendly elves and penguin aids on hand to assist children. The village is studded with elven refreshment areas for hot chocolates (with Bailey’s versions for the bigger kids) mulled wines, pastries, bratwursts and sweet treats. And if you want a sit down meal, there’s Pumpernickel’s Cafe, serving warming comfort food like pizza, burgers and mac ’n’ cheese.
Pixie Mixie’s whimsical, pastel-coloured sweet shop is an Instagrammer’s dream and it’s almost impossible to walk past without stuffing your children with lollipops. And the Elf Emporium is brimming with beautiful decorations, costumes, books and gifts.
Then we head deeper into the forest, for the grand finale with the Big Man himself. We walk through Santa's real reindeer herd, cared for by Glow the Elf - and hear the snoring of Rudolph in his stable, which burns red with the glow from his nose as he snorts.
Next is Ambolt’s forge, the magical moment where we see Father Christmas's real sleigh, which Lapland’s elfsmith is varnishing before the big night, while his apprentice Tinker busily smelts the elve’s golden bells and jingle coins. The harnesses hang on the wall, beneath the plaques of each famous reindeer. We wait in Compass the elf’s study for the elves to summon children for their big meeting, and admire the maps and astrological charts, planning Santa’s Christmas Eve route, while we wait. Elves discretely take parents aside to doublecheck that the information we gave them for Santa is still up to date, before the big meeting.
An elf calls out our children's names and leads us through a door to snowy, tree lined pathways. Excitement can barely be contained when we finally spot Father Christmas's wooden cabin, glowing through the snowy trees. Tanked up on magic and sugar, our children bounce from foot to foot on the doorstep until we are welcomed in to meet Father Christmas, who is everything we want him to be - jolly, funny, pleasingly magical and with a great beard and fancy togs. The children are mesmerised. He shows them their handwritten names on the good list and - thanks to Lapland UK’s nifty prep-work - stuns them with how much he knows about them and their friends.
He’s so proud of their work saving Christmas, he presents them with a toy huskie from his sled team and a special golden bell, only awarded to his best elves, which he tells them to ring the whole drive home… thanks Santa. The magic continues on Christmas morning, when they open their stockings and discover a postcard from Father Christmas, thanking them for helping the elves make the toys and with it, the very same bunny they helped the elves make in the Toy Factory - which we are discretely given as we leave Lapland UK.
It is pure Christmas magic, which leaves visitors of all ages in no doubt that Father Christmas exists and resides within this ancient elven civilisation at Lapland UK.
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