We have always wanted to take the girls to Lapland but when we had the opportunity to visit the UK’s version, we were all so excited to visit.
What is Lapland UK?
Lapland UK is family Christmas experience like no other. A forest has been transformed into a snowy winter wonderland, where you walk through a guided theatrical tour, meeting certain characters along the way. It’s a rewarding 3 and half hours for children and they are given the opportunity to have a hands on experience helping to make toys for Father Christmas and gingerbread men with Mother Christmas. This all takes place at Whitmoor Forest, Ascot, Berkshire.
Before you go:
Once you have booked your experience to Lapland UK you are asked for some specific information relating to your child in advance so that the trip can be as magical as possible. In the post you will receive personalised invitations from Father Christmas to your child inviting them to his toy factory to help in preparation for Christmas. The invitations are very magical and realistic.
They are so authentic you would think they have been delivered straight from the North Pole with the wax seal and FC “Father Christmas” embossed on the back of the envelope. You will also receive thank you letters from Father Christmas to place with your child’s presents on Christmas morning.
We chose to give the girls their invitations on the day of our trip. After the girls woke up on Saturday morning the magical Lapland UK letters were lying on the doormat individually addressed.
This was an exciting moment for them as it was totally unexpected. I had secretly packed a suitcase for our overnight stay at the official partner hotel for Lapland UK, the Royal Berkshire Hotel. This was a beautiful family hotel that I would thoroughly recommend (you can read our review of the hotel here).
When you arrive:
When you arrive at Lapland UK you park on the outskirts of a forest and follow the signs to the Enchanted forest. We parked in the Owl Car park, (remember to note where you have parked your car.) Our tour time was at 9.30am and Lapland UK recommend that you arrive half an hour early to get checked in.
The Enchanted Forest
After a short walk through the woods, guided by fairy lights, the magic starts. You walk through the doors of a crafted wooden cottage where the attention to detail is amazing.
All staff members are dressed in character and at the Elf check in, the elves had large feathery quills and huge old books which cleverly hid iPads.
Each dedicated time slot is split in half (reindeer group and husky group) to make sure there are never too many people on your experience. We were in the Reindeer group. At the elf check in, each child is presented with their very own Elf Passport which allows them to journey along the elves’ secret woodland pathways to reach Lapland UK. There are also sections in the passport to collect stamps from different locations around Lapland UK with the final stamp being their meeting with Father Christmas.
If you wish you can also go to the Jingle Exchange counter to purchase elf jingles which is the magical currency of Lapland UK, 1 elf jingle is the equivalent to £1. The girls were excited to exchange their money into elf jingles which came in a delightful red velvet pouch. (You can also use your credit card if you run out of Jingles which from this point forward are called ‘Jingle Cards’)
If you arrive very early there is a Woodland café for drinks and snacks.
Start of the journey:
As the clock struck 9:30 an elf came out to greet the children with an unusually funny hello gesture of placing your hand at your nose and wiggling. He advised that elves refer to children as small folk and adults as big folk.
Each group enters through different doors which open and lead you down a pathway into the forest where you meet Sage the oldest Elf. Once we were all seated, Sage, dressed very realistically as an elf entertained us with stories, questions, songs and even had the adults (big folk) joining in a competition of sounding animal noises between the reindeer and husky groups which the girls thought was hilarious.
He advised the children that not all elves are small, they come in all heights and that elves know the secrets of the pathways. His friend Eeko was a mother nature type of elf and she told the children that elves are born from pine cones.
The children and adults had to sing a magic rhyme to go through the doors to Lapland. The real magic happened when the doors to Lapland were opened revealing a snowy winter scene like we had arrived at the North Pole. The look on the girls faces as these doors opened was truly priceless, as they did really believe that they had been magically transported to Lapland.
The head of the Reindeer group lead us along the secret forest pathways that magically took us to the Toy Factory. Here the girls knocked on a tiny door which opened into the Toy Factory, (the adults walked through a large door opened by Whittle the elf who was in charge of the Toy Factory).
Whittle asked the small folk (children) to be seated at the middle benches and big folk (mums and dads) to sit around the benches on outskirts of the room. Whittle explained to the children how he got his name from Father Christmas as he managed to fix the moving toy conveyor belt above the children’s head by whittling a piece of wood. The theming of the factory was superb from the cog wheels above us turning which were pulling toys around in the factory.
Whittle received a phone call from Father Christmas asking for some help in order to keep up with the demand of making toys for all the children on the good list which is exceptionally long this year.
The other elves helping whittle in the Toy Factory were Conker and Wish. The girls had to make a stuffed reindeer toy and they also had to help build a teddy bear made from wooden blocks, which they loved, before handing them to the elves for wrapping.
What is so great about Lapland UK is the brilliant interaction between the characters and the children – especially when they sang The Elf Song to the tune of Jingle Bells. Similar toys that the children made can be bought from the Elf Emporium shop in the village later on in your journey.
Moreover, the happiness on the children’s faces from their sense of achievement was evident from the smiling faces around the room. The children also have the first stamp on their passport from their efforts in helping in the toy factory and a sticker saying “I helped in the elves toy factory”.
After finishing up in the toy factory, we followed our elf back outside into the winter scene and the girls had a lovely chat with the Reindeer leader as they walked past little elf cottages dusted with snow. The children were informed that Conker, Whittle and Wish lived there. Through the secret pathway we arrived at Mother Christmas’ house.
There was another opportunity for the children to knock on a tiny door and it opened into Mother Christmas’ gingerbread house. The adults walked through a large door opened by Mother Christmas.
The children sat down on small benches in front of Mother Christmas and were told all about Father Christmas’ favourite treat “gingerbread”. Mother Christmas’s helper elves came out to join in the fun and the girls liked the gingerbread song. Every elf had a bell on their hat apart from one elf Doh as she kept eating all the dough.
Laid out beautifully at each work station were gingerbread men, child sized hats, aprons, icing, sweets and everything the children required in order to decorate their own gingerbread man. Mother Christmas then shows the children how to decorate Father Christmas’s favourite gingerbread.
Mother Christmas advised the children not to give any gingerbread to Father Christmas because his tummy was growing sideways taller! Adults were given their own gingerbread biscuit to eat whilst the children decorated theirs. Lovely paper Lapland UK bags are provided so you can take your child’s creation away with you to eat now or later. The children also receive another stamp in their passport for completing this task.
After the gingerbread men were all decorated, the children sat back down again and Mother Christmas read them all a Christmas gingerbread story. At the end of the story Mother Christmas with the help of the children reward Doh the elf with her golden bell for her hat.
After saying goodbye to Mother Christmas and her elves, we were allowed some free time (around 1 hour 30 mins) to explore the Elf village, which was a delightful little square with lots of quaint Christmas shops, snow covered trees and places to eat centered around a delightful ice rink.
Our first stop was ice skating which is included in the cost of your ticket. This was so much fun and there were skating elves on hand to help anyone who fell over and little penguins for the smaller children (and my husband) to hold onto.
After our fun on the ice we decided to warm up with a hot chocolate from the nearby Elf café.
We really loved meeting the huskies named Amber and Star. That’s what’s great about Lapland UK – it offers so many special experiences. My youngest daughter, who loves animals, spent a long time petting and stroking the husky dogs and meeting the reindeer.
There was plenty of time to explore the Elf village and meet some of the Elf characters who were roaming around or in the shops. We met Bauble in the bauble shop, Pixie Mixie in the sweet shop and Zauber the Magician elf.
The girls found the post office and went in to write and post their letter to Father Christmas. Once more the attention to detail was amazing.
Don’t forget The Elf Emporium which was filled with lots of old fashioned toys and games, Christmas decorations and the only place you can purchase the giant Rudolph Reindeer toys and the wooden teddy bears that the children made at the toy factory.
Everything is well sign posted including the toilets. The toilets were immaculate. There are several sets of toilets including at the entrance, in the Elf Village and at the exit.
In between visits to the beautiful Christmas shops were explored the village of tiny elf cottages, snow on the trees, fairy lights everywhere and Christmas music playing in the background, making the scene just magical.
The 90 minutes we spent in the Elf Village just flew by and it was our time to meet Father Christmas. We made our way through winding paths that weave through the enchanting snow covered forest over a stunning snow covered wooden bridge, from which you could see tiny wooden houses below.
We even had the chance to see Father Christmas’ reindeer and his sleigh and make our own magical dust to leave on the path on Christmas Eve.
Our path led us to a wooden cabin which was the Father Christmas checking in desk. At this point you leave your children sitting on the bench while they just confirm details and take any extra notes off you to pass on to Father Christmas.
To our surprise there was no queue. It’s a smooth process and made special for the children with flight maps of the world displayed on the walls and a magical desk full of fascinating equipment.
We came across one of Father Christmas’ elves who guided us down through a snow covered maze until we reached Father Christmas’ house. The girls gave the Elf their passports and we sat outside waiting patiently until Father Christmas was ready to see us.
When the door opened and the girls could see Father Christmas sitting in his house their eyes lit up with a smile that we will never forget. The interaction was brilliant and the girls spent a really good amount of time with Father Christmas and it didn’t feel rushed at all.
The girls were mesmerised and believed they had met the real Father Christmas as he knew about their home life and their hobbies – tennis, swimming, ballet and in the school choir (based from the initial information you provide pre visit). He asked the girls to sing and perform their ballet dancing. The best part for the children was Father Christmas showing the girls his ‘good list’ book and their names appeared on it. It made them feel really happy and reassured.
Father Christmas announced that since the girls had been such good helpers, they would receive an early Christmas present. Out of the sack he pulled two fluffy soft toy husky dogs which were just beautiful and of excellent quality. We were also given a Lapland story book, which was a lovely keepsake of the day.
During this time the elf took several pictures and one photo is included as part of the experience.
As you make your way out of the snowy forest where we met two more of Father Christmas’ elves before being transported back to the Enchanted Forest (which the girls said felt much warmer than Lapland) by walking through a tree lined tunnel into the photo collection point to look at our photos.
You also have the opportunity to buy a special souvenir photo book “The day Father Christmas invited me to help his elves at Lapland UK for £15. It’s a beautiful keepsake and we just had to purchase this as the day was so special. The book is so you can keep all the memories of your trip such as the invitation, the elf passport and your three selected photos in a special place. You also have a digital copy of the photos included.
On our way out of Lapland UK was the gift shop which had some beautiful outfits for the girls husky dogs. They both bought a lovely Lapland UK red Christmas jumper to keep their doggies warm for the trip back to the car.
What makes it special:
A visit to Lapland UK isn’t simply a visit to see Father Christmas -it’s the best Christmas experience you will ever have. Lapland UK asks you to ‘Believe in the Magic’ and it was evident from the look in both my daughters’ eyes that they experienced this magic.
Do you remember as a child thinking that Christmas was the best thing ever? After visiting Lapland UK and watching my own children experience the Christmas magic is an even better feeling.
For me, this experience is literally magical. It’s everything you want your child to believe in and to encourage them to continue that Christmas excitement for as long as they can.
There is no detail that is overlooked when it comes to Lapland UK and the experience was extremely well organised. From the actors, to the design of Lapland all the way through to the small elf doors created at each lodge for the children to go through. Once you’re there you can see how much love and attention has gone into every aspect of the experience at Lapland UK
Is it worth the money?
In a word Yes. Let me explain why….. Although Lapland UK is expensive, it’s unlike any other Christmas experience in the UK. You just have to step back and look at the quality of this large scale theatrical production and the unique experience that has been created.
During your three and a half hour journey you experience a Narnia like wonderland of snow covered trees and pathways, beautiful snow covered buildings and brilliant actors.
All activities including toy making, gingerbread decorating, ice skating, meeting the husky dogs, a beautiful gift for each child and a souvenir family photograph with Father Christmas is included.
If you compare the cost to a West End show or a pantomime which is of a comparable duration plus the cost of ice skating, in my opinion it offers even better value and more importantly create cherished childhood memories that will last a lifetime.
Your entrance also includes a personalised invitation from Father Christmas to each child by post, a Christmas morning thank you card and their Elf passports.
A visit to Lapland UK is definitely a visit you will never forget. Since we have come home from Lapland UK, my daughters keep talking fondly of our lovely day and have been telling all the children at their school how to greet an Elf.
They cannot wait to return next year, if they stay on Father Christmas’ ‘Good List’.
Where to book your tickets:
Advanced booking online through Lapland UK is the only way to book tickets. The experience has a fixed capacity and advanced notice of child’s invitation and personal facts needs to be created in advance.
Most of the experience is indoors but you are required to walk through the forest pathways so don’t forget warm clothing and outdoor footwear.
Tickets vary in price from £55 to £130 depending on the day and time that you book.
We were guests of Lapland UK for our visit, however all opinions are our own.