Dusk. A mild November evening, with a huge purple sky above, and twinkly lights visible in the distance. They ran, one following the other, through the falling darkness. They’d just seen real reindeer, and now they wanted to take a peek into Santa’s bedroom. Rushing, single-minded, single-file.
We had arrived at the Airfield Estate Christmas Experience an hour earlier, to be greeted by a lovely Elf called Buddy – the nicest of all the elves according to my eight-year-old. We were given maps, and we made our way through the trees to Santa’s workshop.
We had mulled wine (me) and hot chocolate (everyone else) and then we were called to go through to see Santa, along with two other families. Santa’s house is gorgeous – Airfield have used their existing buildings for their Christmas experience, so it’s Airfield but more twinkly.
The interior decoration is wonderful – warm and red and cosy and very, very christmassy.
The children were invited to sit on cushions on front of Santa, while the grown-ups sat just behind on benches. Santa was perfect – a bit like the room really – warm and red and cosy and very christmassy.
He asked all the children their names, and what they’d like to have for Christmas. He was gentle and extremely patient with the kids – particularly my small boy who kept piping up with random facts, out of turn. “Santa, you know, I have a tattoo,” he said at one point. “Really!” said Santa. “Of all the statements I hear in this room, that’s the very last one I expected.” Then my three-year-old decided to take off his jacket and roll up his sleeve, to show an ever-patient Santa his tattoo. (I should mention that I didn’t actually permanently ink my child – it’s one of those transfers that just doesn’t come off no matter how often you wash it – so actually, at this point it may as well be a real tattoo.)
After plenty of chat time and lots of laughs, the elves passed presents to Santa for each of the kids. The gifts were a real treat – I won’t give away the details (parents like a surprise too I think!) but they were gorgeous, high quality toys and books, and no plastic. One downside to Santa visits generally is coming home with cheap, plastic, breakable toys that kids love and parents hate. At Airfield, kids and parents alike were delighted. Another nice touch is how the gifts are packaged – they come in cute reusable cloth sacks instead of wrapping paper:
Finally, we took some photos with Santa, then said goodbye and wandered back outside.
We passed the main house, beautifully decorated, but resisted the pull to go in, in favour of finding Santa’s Letter Writing room. Here, the kids spent time writing their letters to Santa, with the help of a friendly elf, they posted them in the on site post-box.
There’s also an option to get a family photo in Santa’s sleigh, for an additional cost – below is a photo of our photo, just to give you an idea.
Letters sent, we headed for the farmyard, to check out the reindeer. My six-year-old was adamant that they were not real reindeer – they looked too “normal” – I think she was expecting a bright red nose.
We didn’t make it over to the Fairy Trail, which is a pity as it sounds gorgeous. I’ve been told that it’s located in the meadow on the way towards the exit, and that there are six fairy houses for kids to see, and from which they can learn all about the Airfield Estate Christmas fairies. it’s self-guided and each house has a sign to tell kids about each of the fairies. This is photo of one fairy house – I’m definitely going back to see this in real life:
Our last stop was Santa’s bedroom – this is another of Airfield’s many buildings that has been transformed for the season. Beautifully decorated, it’s full of bits and pieces that look like they came from another time and place entirely – antique toys, beautifully wrapped gifts, a wrought iron bed, a vintage sewing machine, and of course, Santa’s suit, hanging up, ready to go.
By the time we’d finished examining Santa’s bedroom, Airfield was closing. In fact, my only regret is that we didn’t go up earlier to spend more time looking around, because there’s just so much to see. That’s what’s really lovely about the Airfield Christmas Experience – it’s much more than a Santa visit. They’ve gone to huge effort to decorate and transform buildings throughout the farm, and the level of details is incredible.
To sum it up: for anyone who already knows Airfield, the prettiness and attention to detail is exactly what you’d expect, and then some. For anyone who doesn’t know Airfield but is considering booking, you’re in for a very special treat. This is without doubt the best Santa trip we’ve done, and I look forward to going back for a “regular” visit in the coming weeks, to soak up some more of the Christmas magic.
Tickets are €22.50 and €12.50 per adult, and members of Airfield Estate receive a 20% discount on up to 6 tickets. For booking and full details see Airfield Estate Christmas Experience. Your ticket includes the following:
- 30 minutes in Santa’s cottage with story-telling and gift receiving
- Meet Santa’s reindeer
- View Santa and Mrs Claus’s bedroom
- Write your letter to Santa & post directly to the North Pole
- Take part in the Airfield Estate Christmas fairy trail
- Warm up with a hot chocolate for all children and a mulled wine for all adults
- Optional photo opportunity in Santa’s sleigh
Visitors can of course explore all of what Airfield Estate offers, including the farm before 4pm. Unfortunately after this time, due to lack of daylight it is not possible, so if a group is booked onto a time slot after 4pm, they have the option of coming earlier in the day to do a tour of the estate.
My family and I were guests of Airfield in order to review the Christmas Experience, but all opinions are my own!