Yesterday we visited Whitehouse Farm Centre in Stannington, near Morpeth in Northumberland. We were invited to try Santa’s Christmas Cracker event which runs until 24th December. If you’re looking for things to do with the kids near Newcastle then I can recommend Whitehouse Farm as somewhere that is brilliant fun.
We arrived just before 12pm and left at 5pm, so we had a full day out, really but didn’t manage to see or do everything there. Have you every been to Whitehouse Farm? I hadn’t before but I’ll certainly be back.
Practical stuff first –
Yesterday the weather was a bit grotty. It was cold enough to snow on and off in Stannington. But that didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the day. Almost everything that stays still on Whitehouse Farm has been covered in tinsel! The staff are all wearing elf costumes and it all really creates a fabulous festive atmosphere.
What’s on for Santa’s Christmas Cracker at Whitehouse Farm?
You can go to Elf School, meet Santa in his Grotto (free – all children receive magic hay and a lolly or pay the Elf £3.50 to receive a gift), decorate a festive biscuit to take home in Mrs Claus’ bakery (extra charge applies of £1.50 per biscuit), and all the staff are in Christmas dress, too.
I’m not entirely sure why this was called Elf “school”. A better name would be Hilarious Elf Magic Show but I guess that’s not as catchy. I thought (from the name) that we were going to learn how the elves get ready for Christmas but instead there was a very entertaining magic show with a Christmas theme. My boys loved it, and I really did too.
The elf school is inside the picnic barn, and is on at 11.15, 12.30, 1.45 and 3pm.
Also inside the picnic barn is Mrs Claus’ Christmas bakery.
Mrs Claus’ Christmas Bakery
Mrs Claus wasn’t present when we were there, but an elf was on bakery duty instead. You can buy a shortbread biscuit for £1.50 and decorate it with sweets and icing on the tables nearby. Wash your hands before you come to the picnic barn, because I couldn’t see hand wash stations here (there probably are some, and Whitehouse Farm regulars will no doubt jump to correct me). Mrs Claus’ bakery is open from 11.15 to 3pm. You can leave your biscuits to dry on the table, by writing your name on the paper bag you get with your biscuit, or you can do what my boys did and just eat it straight away.
The Christmas Cracker event is running alongside the usual Whitehouse Farm activities, so you’ll still be able to see animals, play in the maze, ride on the tractors, and of course tumble in the soft play. There are tonnes of other things at Whitehouse Farm that we just couldn’t get to because we were having too much fun doing what we were doing. For example we didn’t really see many of the animals. We didn’t go to any of the talks, even though James has been before and these were the highlight of his visit. He missed having a tarantula on his head so he improvised with a snake in the shop.
Tractor / sleigh ride
A highlight of our visit was the tractor ride around the farm. Tractor rides start outside the soft play at 1pm, and seem to run continuously until about 3pm. The trailer is decorated to look like a sleigh, and the elf driver really tops this off as a lovely Christmas farm activity.
The children are given the opportunity to sit in the tractor after the circuit of the farm. This made Noah’s day.
For some the grotto at Whitehouse Farm will be the main event. It is avoidable if you’ve seen one too many Santas this year. The grotto is at the back of the shop, which is the first and last building you’ll go in when you’re visiting Whitehouse Farm. I think if you did decide to miss it, though, you’ve missed out – this is a real highlight of the Christmas Cracker event.
The fairy greets you at the opening of a corridor decorated with tinsel and presents: it’s a really dramatic entrance to the grotto. It’s kitsch and we loved it.
In the first room you can write a letter to Santa, which you can post into the post box in the next room. Then when you leave, speak to the Elf or Mrs Claus, and you’ll get a personalised reply from Santa. There’s also an opportunity for a photo in Santa’s actual sleigh.
In the next room we stood in a rather long queue waiting for our turn to see Santa. Each family listens for the bell (rung by Santa) to know when it’s their turn. As the queue was long, the fairy popped in and out, elves started snowball fights, and we listened to Christmas tunes while we waited. I think I was more conscious of the wait time than the boys because they were really entertained.
Meeting Santa at Whitehouse Farm
When it was our turn to go through I was thrilled to see a traditional looking Santa with a real beard. He was really gentle, left gaps enough for my shy boy to answer his questions, and was a good Santa experience. Everyone gets a bag of magic hay and a lolly. If you pay £3.50 per child you’ll also receive a gift. Noah (2) was given 4 little books of classic stories. James (4) received a Mickey Mouse magnadraw. When James opened his present he was really pleased, and asked if it was ok to play with it straight away, which hasn’t been the case with all the Santa’s we’ve seen this year.
After you wave goodbye to Santa you walk through a winter wonderland, where you can see models of what the elves look like when they’re making the toys at the North Pole, as well as snowy scenes of moving bears and snowmen. It’s lots of fun!
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Whitehouse Farm for Santa’s Christmas Cracker. It is a cracker of an event, and I recommend it if you are looking for something to do before Christmas with young children.
We were given tickets for Whitehouse Farm entry in exchange for this review. I paid for all expenses while we were there. Opinions and words my own.