Long Weekend review: If all they want for Christmas this year is a trip to Lapland, why not try out this winter wonderland in the UK first?

Alison Summers
"Before you ask, I'm not telling you if Donald Trump is on it."

The trip:

Embrace festive fever and head to an immersive elfin experience near Ascot for an exciting encounter with Mother and Father Christmas. This is something for the whole family to enjoy, following a trail through an enchanted forest to sample a day in the life of elf apprentices, preparing food and toys for the celebrations to come.

Patience and stamina are required, as the show lasts for three hours as you proceed through a series of giant log cabins and paths covered with fake snow to eventually see the great man and deliver your Christmas wish. It would be hard going for children under three, not to mention their parents, and exhausting for nans.

The entertainment:

Big folk and small folk are welcomed by the head elf whose booming voice might scare some little people. Actors taking on the role of elf impersonators then initiate the audience in the secret rhyme, which allows them to pass into Lapland. Once there children quickly gain access to the toy factory staffed by more elves dressed in brightly coloured gear. The cheery song and story formula is a bit like pantomime without the dame. How can anyone resist the happy elf song to the familiar tune Jingle Bells?

This is an interactive afternoon too as kids get to assemble toy cuddly reindeers and toy bears, though not to take home, sadly. The task completed, they get a stamp on their elf passports and are sent on their way. In the next hut Mother Christmas and her helpers allow the young would-be elves to decorate a delicious ginger bread man, which they can actually keep, followed by a heart warming story from the big girl herself. Another stamp on the passport and it’s time to move on to the highlight of the day.

"Why are we so unproductive on Wednesdays?"

The elf village:

Arriving in the elf village along another frosty conifer fringed path, guests are invited to see and do as much as possible – at a price, of course. Here is the skating rink, the elf emporium, café restaurant and sweet shop full of all sorts of tempting goodies. Don’t miss the opportunity to post a letter to Father Christmas at the Elf Post Office, meet the husky dogs and Ambolt, the Elf Blacksmith.

You can admire Father Christmas’s sleigh and reindeer, all prepped and ready to whisk toys to expectant children for Christmas Day. Finally participants graduate from their elf training with the award of a golden bell and the last stamp on their elf passport, before their timed appointment with the one, the only, Father Christmas himself.

The verdict:

This is a great day out, but does not come cheap. The elves work very hard to charm the little ones and keep the adults involved, but progress is sometimes slow along the elfin route. but those between the ages of about four and seven – and the young at heart – will lap(land) it all up.

Need to know:

Lapland UK is open until 24 December. Tickets start from around £75 per person and can be booked online at bookings.laplanduk.co.uk

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