Christmas at Lillingstone PYO

a child standing in front of a decorated christmas door
I blogged about our visit to Lillingstone Pick Your Own a couple of months back – as we visited for the sunflowers and wildflowers – and was so disappointed that we missed out on the Halloween event as we had such an action-packed October half term.

I knew we had to return for Christmas – and what an experience it was! It was genuinely the best grotto we’ve ever been to, and I think it’ll be pretty hard for anywhere else to top it!

We paid £19.95 for the experience, which was the price per child. This included two accompanying adults (due to the space throughout the experience) and car parking on-site. If you were visiting without the grotto, entry is free, which is fantastic – and there were so many extras you could pay for as you go – like the sleigh ride, toasting marshmallows, letters to Santa and a scavenger hunt. You could also purchase Christmas trees, wreaths and there was the cutest gift shop (more on that in a mo).

If you’re on a budget, you could easily still have plenty of fun, but the grotto in my opinion, was well worth the money. The attention to detail throughout was incredible, and you could see the time and effort that had gone into making this a magic experience for the children. It also lasted 20-30 minutes, which is a lot longer than many other grottos.

While we were waiting, we had a mooch around the shop and café. I loved that it supported so many small businesses and local artisans – with everything from candles and smellies, to beers and gins, and even Christmas decorations. There were lovely gifts for all ages – from young children to grandparents. We bought two candles (one to take to mum’s over Christmas) from Dayrell Designs and we also bought a jar of local honey, which came with a honey pot and drizzler. There’s nothing like local honey – this one was so flavoursome! I honestly think that given the chance, I’d have bought the whole shop!

When it was the time to visit Mother Christmas, Alfie rang the bell, and an elf came out to greet him. We were ushered into the grotto and took our seats for story time. Mother Christmas read to us, while the helpful elf looked on and the grumpy elf on the shelf was… well, grumpy! There was time for singing and dancing – and I watched on while the boys did the Time Warp – but the whole room was mesmerising with so much going on and every detail had been considered.

a group of people posing for a picture

Alfie received a certificate to say he was on the good list, and then it was time to choose a toy from the workshop. There was so much choice – and it was all decent stuff too! I personally much prefer when the children can choose as you know it’s something they’ll like and play with, and usually age appropriate. He chose a dinosaur egg (of course).

We then went to Mother Christmas’ kitchen to decorate a gingerbread biscuit. It was lovely and warm, and the smell of spices filled the air – so festive. Alfie was given a chef’s hat and a tray complete with icing and decorations. There were plenty to choose from: smarties, dew drops, sprinkles and sugar crystals… he couldn’t help but eat them from the tray and I helped myself to a dew drop. When his creation was complete, it went into a bag and then it was on to make some reindeer food.

a child standing next to metal containers with wooden scoops

I loved the blackboard which explained step-by-step how to make the reindeer food and what each ingredient meant – sunflower seeds for flying power, oats for the reindeers’ diets, wheat for a dash of love… Once all the ingredients were in, it was time to seal the bag up with the sticker, close our eyes and make a wish. There’s nothing like a Christmas wish and Alfie’s wish from the previous year has come true, so he has a decent record!

While I mention the blackboard, the signage was done by Northampton-based Bluebell Lettering and was just so stunning! From the signpost, to all the boards displayed throughout the farm, they really added to the experience!

a child with face paint on

After the grotto, Alfie got his face painted. Rebecca Kershaw had a gorgeous set up under the gazebo – with face paints, glitters and charms, and for girls, hair pieces and flower crowns. Alfie decided to get a small festive Pokeball painted onto his cheek. It was the first time he’s had his face painted as he’s always been too scared or not wanted to – but he sat very still and loved showing it off afterwards. It was also really lovely to chat to Rebecca – she’s so talented (check out her Instagram grid) – while we warmed up with hot drinks. I said I’d hope to be back in the Easter holidays (with a baby in tow), but we shall see!

a child playing with a ring

There was just enough time to explore everything else – the North Pole sorting office, complete with a typewriter in the corner; the tree forest and games, like Candy Cane Lane (AKA Hoopla) and a Christmas tree ball toss; the reindeer and tractor. As our grotto slot was 2pm and the farm was shutting at 4:30pm, we had to forgo a sleigh ride and instead toasted marshmallows at the fire pit. Ash stoked the fire while Alfie and I indulged in the sweet treats.

I genuinely don’t think that photos do the whole experience justice – although check out my two reels on Instagram. Faye, Tom and the team really have made this a special and memorable family day out – nothing could be faulted. Lillingstone shuts for the year on December 23rd, so don’t miss out. There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit.

We will definitely be back again next year and can’t wait to return for the other seasonal events.

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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