With everything that has been going on lately, I have avoided being anywhere near the places which will be traditionally crowded at this time of the year in the run up to the holidays... Not that I've always been a big fan of the packed ice rinks and malls (we did try the Harrods Grotto once, we left before seeing Santa, the queuing was so appalling... even with pre-booked tickets).
Nevertheless, when a friend mentioned Lapland UK, I thought I'd give it a try... Soon enough, we received an invitation for Little Monsieur to go and help the busy elves in their workshop and meet Santa.
When we arrived, we entered a twinkling check-in area, styled to take you straight to a Nordic Wonderland, complete with fairy lights and braided branches. We were soon adopted by a couple of Elves, who split our team in two, the Huskies and the Reindeer, before whisking us through a little woodland path to meet Eko the Ecological Elf...
She and her friends gave us the introduction to Elves, Santa's toy workshop and all things magical, before sending us on our way to the main purpose of our trip: the toy workshop, where the Little Folk were invited to help make toys.
In the toy workshop, Little Monsieur first helped stuff a little reindeer, complete with a little red heart. He then helped assemble a toy horse, before taking him in a little basket to the stockroom where Elves would blow magical dust on it to make it walk.
Our little man was beyond excited to be part of the Christmas preparations with the elves, and as with the forest elves, the ones in the workshop were cheerful and engaging and made visitors feel totally wrapped in the story.
We then moved on to Mother Christmas' kitchen, where tables were laid out with chef's hats, gingerbread biscuits, and icing and candy for decoration. The children first sat around Mother Christmas for a little story (about Santa's fascination with gingerbread, I can't say I don't sympathise), then went to their work stations to make their biscuits. Here is where my little munchkin went to town: he used his candy, and then moved on to adopt those left on the station next to his, which was empty.
By the end, we the little gingerbread house was adorned with enough refined sugar to send our whole little family into a massive rush, Little Madame included!
After the kitchen we walked through some more snowy woodlands, and arrived at the gorgeously styled village. Little Monsieur went skating with Hubby Dearest, whilst I ferried our future elf helper in her Bugaboo around the different shops. Everything was simply beautiful, covered in artificial snow, with warm twinkling lights everywhere, and it was hard not to forget we were so close to London.
There is a couple of shops, nothing too extravagant, a little cafe which even has one salad on the menu (it sounds little but trust me this is a lot when compared with usual family attractions!). The little post office is adorable, its walls are filled with envelopes from all around the world, addressed to Santa of course. We also checked out the forge, where the little golden bells are made, obviously.
To be honest I did find the time in the village a little long, especially as we had come for an afternoon slot so it was a bit dark and cold (I'd probably shorten that time by about 30 minutes for perfection, instead of the total 90 minutes it lasts) but the cafe was perfectly comfortable, we had an early tea, and then it was time to go and meet Santa...
We saw his reindeer first, then his sleigh, and finally the man himself, who of course knew all about Little Monsieur's favourite hobby and pet, and even that he had gotten eyeglasses for the first time just a few days earlier. The look on the face of the little man was priceless. This Santa was definitely the real deal as well, or a very close version of it, nothing close to the pillow enhanced options you find closer to SW1!
I totally loved the whole experience, and will probably come back when Little Madame is old enough to enjoy it. In the meanwhile, you can find more details here: http://www.laplanduk.co.uk/.