Christmas at Center Parcs
We visited Center Parcs Winter Wonderland Elveden during the Christmas period and were pleasantly surprised. We are regular visitors to Centre Parcs but usually only in early February as this is when we find the cheapest deals. Check out my Top Tips blog for more information on how you can save.
A mishap during our last visit had resulted in a free day pass for the family. I must say Center Parcs management, in particular how they deal with complaints is always very good. They usually resolve the issue quickly and if they cant, compensate you fairly. So even if something does go a bit pear shaped, which lets face it happens everywhere now and again that’s just statistics. It doesn’t feel like your time away has been effected.
But is it pricey ?
Staying at Christmas does come at a premium and honestly we’re not in a position at the moment to afford a weekend or even midweek stay during the festive period. That doesn’t mean I don’t think its worth it though.
We wouldn’t visit Center Parcs every year if we didn’t absolutely love it. Its such a great short break for big family get togethers and there are ways of doing it cheaply. We asked quite a few families their spend and it did vary so make sure your signed up to receive all the Center Parc notifications and deals.
The park is beautifully decorated in the most tasteful of ways with fake snow (looks real) and icicle lights illuminating the paths to the main area. It must have taken weeks for them to decorate, but boy its worth it. We didn’t do any extra activities but on arrival saw a traditional horse and cart ride pull up. When we inquired, she said it was fully booked and had been for weeks, so just a heads up to prior book your activities so little ones aren’t disappointed.
We also saw evidence of other special Christmas activities like an Elf workshop which will be in addition to all already jam-packed menu including, pony trekking, rollerskating, badminton, climbing etc etc etc. You name it they probably do it.
The main Winter Wonderland area is located at the back of the pool near the tree climbing. The lights and decorations are even more spectacular and you are greeted by a barbershop choir of reindeer and a donkey who sing animatronic Christmas classics at the push of a button. There’s also a couple of snow machines dotted around. One of which is positioned over a lit arch which makes for a great photo and if you download the free app a reindeer friend joins in too.
The Elf’s workshop area is so fun and festive. Huts surround the entrance to father Christmas’s grotto filled with elves going about there elf-y duty. Again by pressing buttons you can bring the motionless ones to life, much to Wilba’s enjoyment. There’s also a wish tree and father Christmas post box to enjoy along with a candy cane trail.
If you want to visit father Christmas like most things there is an additional cost which does seem initially quite high. If you take into consideration the photos and the quality gift, its probably not much more than the high end garden centers. I must also add father Christmas was fantastic, generous with his time, jolly, inquisitive and funny all the things you would hope.
He also didn’t mind our extra snaps or fraternization with his elf Jingles who was equally awesome. There’s still plenty to look at in the area even if you don’t decide to visit, and make sure you pre book your time-slot.
Sadly not free but the mulled cider is rumoured to be really nice unfortunately by the time I went back it was closed. So I had to make do with a glass of vino at the bar while the kids enjoyed the free disco which happens every night at about 7pm.
The perfect end to a day of swimming and sliding. The boy was big enough to go on the big Tropical Cyclone ride this time much to his excitement and my displeasure. Don’t forget they have to balance the inflatable so you need to either have two adults and two children or you might be asked to wait for a single rider. Andy stepped in for a mum and her two boys, he was really gutted that he got to go on twice in a row without queuing! Not.
When are the Fireworks?
We chose to go on a Sunday as we felt this always seemed the quietest day in the pool. We didn’t know until we were there but coincidentally and much to our delight its also the fireworks night. If you go midweek they do them on a Tuesday. I can hand on heart say this is the best fireworks display I have ever been to.
We were stood in a prime spot just in front of the bike park near Starbucks. We could hear the music clearly and had a great view without feeling squashed. It’s rumoured to cost 2k every show (that’s probably where some of your premium pennies are going) but it was magical I’ve never seen heart shaped fireworks or face shaped ones and the glitter rockets were spectacular. At the end Father Christmas appears on the roof. My only slight quibble is he could have been out there a bit longer to ensure all the crowd had time to see him.
So what did we think?
Even though we were only there for the day, I can imagine that the Center Parcs charm is only heightened at this time of the year. Center Parcs is all about getting active and spending quality time with your family and friends. All the festive touches only adds to the appeal of this increasingly popular UK short break destination. It sure gave us the warm and fuzzies and we made some unforgettable Christmas memories thanks to all of the team who helped us with our visit.
Have you been at Christmas what did you think? leave me your thoughts in the comments.
Disclaimer* I was not gifted this stay and received no payment for this review as always the words and thoughts are my own.