01 02 03 The Princess and The Pickle: Christmas at Marwell... The Pickle meets Pickle the Penguin! 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Christmas at Marwell... The Pickle meets Pickle the Penguin!


The Princess and The Pickle have just returned from an enchanting evening at Marwell Wildlife!  

We arrived in darkness, shortly after the wildlife park had closed for the day, and were greeted at the entrance by friendly staff who were handing out stickers and magical maps for all the children.  We had managed to keep the evening a surprise for The Princess until she overheard people talking about Santa – then a huge smile swept across her face!  The Pickle was also excited, but for other reasons.  On the short walk from the car park he had seen huge posters of tigers and monkeys and was now completely hyper and looked so cute toddling around in his Rudolph hat as we waited for the road train to collect us.

We boarded the Gingerbread Express from the entrance gate, which took us directly to Marwell Hall.  As we approached the hall we could see it had been stylishly adorned with lights and there was a sheltered area just to one side where pushchairs could be left.  We were met by one of Santa’s elves and guided into the hall through an igloo entrance, past twinkling reindeer and into the magical Ice Palace.  The Ice Palace was the perfect atmosphere to get everyone into the Christmas spirit, with deep blue lighting, drapes and icicles hanging above our heads.  We sat on cushioned stools upholstered with fluffy white fabric to look like blocks of ice and in one corner old barrels were stacked with glasses of mulled wine and warm blackcurrant squash, while one of the elves handed out mince pies.

It was soon announced that Mrs Claus was almost ready for storytime and out she came to greet us, traditionally dressed and rosy cheeked, just as you’d expect her to be.  She led us through to the library, which in contrast to the Ice Palace had a warm and cosy feel to it.  We gathered on cushions by the fireplace as Mrs Claus entertained us with the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  She used props, including a puppet and there were some basic theatrical effects.  All the children were fascinated, even The Pickle sat still for most of the story! 

The elves had been busy baking gingerbread men for us to decorate in the next room.  There was a large table laid out with icing and smarties, plus an apron and hat for each child to wear.  The Princess carefully decorated her gingerbread man (making sure to use as many smarties as possible) and wrapped him up ready to take home, while The Pickle quite happily tucked into his gingerbread snowman right away!  I did attempt to help him add a little icing and a few smarties, which were picked straight back off again!

Next, we were whisked off to meet Santa!  The Princess (having met Santa many times before) sat down next to him and happily started chatting away.  Santa was amazed at how much she has grown since he saw her last and The Princess has now promised to be very good from here until Christmas and go to bed nice and early on Christmas Eve so he can deliver the presents.  The Pickle, on the other hand, was very unsure of Santa.  Last Christmas he was only a few months old so this was really his first meeting with Mr Claus.  He was, however, quite happy once he’d been handed a present!  Next, we were guided through to the bar area where we could enjoy a drink, face-painting and, of course, meet Pickle the Penguin…

The Pickle looked at Pickle the Penguin.  Pickle the Penguin looked at The Pickle.  Would there be a Pickle stand off?!

The Pickle watched from a distance while The Princess danced with Pickle the Penguin and posed for a photo against the icy backdrop.  Then he decided he wanted to join them for a quick boogie before promptly running away again to look at the shiny baubles on the huge Christmas tree!

 The Gingerbread Express took us back through the dark wildlife park.  The Pickle was fascinated by the pretty Christmas lights scattered around the park and we were able to catch a glimpse of some of the animals inside their houses.

A lot of effort has obviously been put into Christmas at Marwell.  The whole experience lasted over an hour and was very well organised.  At no point did it feel rushed or over crowded.  I was impressed with the attention to detail, there were lots of decorations and little finishing touches scattered around and it was really nicely thought out.  We let the kids open their presents at home as Christmas is still a while away and I’m not sure I can cope with “Mummy, can I open my present yet?” every day for the next month!  The gifts were perfectly suited to their ages and are lovely quality.

It did feel a little strange going to see Santa when it’s still November (especially as the weather earlier was like a typical September day and we still have a large bumble bee buzzing around our front garden) but we left Marwell feeling very excited for Christmas and it was a lovely start to the festive season!

Sessions run throughout the day and early evening (for extra atmosphere) on selected dates during November and December.   
For more information and to book your tickets visit www.marwell.org.uk/christmas

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