If you’re thinking it’s almost time to start looking into places to visit Santa this Christmas, then I have a brilliant suggestion for you that offers everything you’re looking for. We were invited along as guests of Luggwoods over the weekend to join in their press day for this years Santa experience in Dublin. It was everything and more than we hoped it would be; that giddy excitement in the kids met with really enthusiastic Elves and helpers in the big red barn and a fully personalised meeting with the real Santa Claus.
Luggwoods forest was very easy to locate, it’s twenty minutes from Naas and just 3 kilometres outside Saggart village. As you drive up through beautiful forest lined country roads, the gates of Luggwoods opens leading you along a fairy light lined avenue. We were met at the check in area by a team of really friendly and chatty Elves where we waited just a few minutes for all families to arrive, though I’m confident as ever we were the last! The Elves lead us to where our train was waiting to take us though the enchanted forest. Having done a few variations of Santa trains over the years this one was probably the best. Technically speaking it was a huge tractor pulling a carriage but it was brilliantly decorated, loads of space and had windows along the sides so not too chilly. Also, unlike other trains, we were not choked on exhaust fumes!
The journey through the forest was great fun. There wasn’t a minute where the Elves were not engaging with the kids, making funny little jokes to keep the parents laughing too and getting a sing-song going. They filled us in on all the crazy goings on with the grumpy old Grinch and the missing Christmas presents. The kids were engaged and animated the whole trip. Along the way we passed a sparkly bright Fairy village and heard about all the animals of the forest. The Elves mentioned all sorts like bunnies and mice and ponies which lead us to think we might see animals on our visit but apart from a few lovely horses on the hillside, the only animals are the young deer in their pen. That didn’t dampen spirits in any way though, it was more that the mention of bunnies had Morgan hopping off his seat!
The Grinch! Now this guy had us in giggles! He was spotted outside his house clutching a map we needed to find the Christmas presents. The kids were encouraged to cheer him up by singing his favourite song. His dancing was something straight from a sticky floored night club all of the parents found familiar from their twenties no doubt! He was cheered up and off we went to the big red barn to meet Mrs. Clause.
The rest of our visit to Luggwood’s was a mix of all sorts of fun. Mrs. Clause was very sweet, she chatted with us all as a group and later took time to mingle and chat with each child. She even took to a knee to take care of a shoe lace for Morgan. There was a real tractor to climb on for photographs, they helped out assembling a few toys in the shop and the Elves took to the stage for a bit of a dance though that routine might need a few more rehearsals!!
Out the other side of a secret hidden door was the kind of Christmas café you’d imagine exists in the North Pole! Free hot chocolate for all the kids and a fully equipped coffee counter serving hot drinks, minerals, Nutella crepes and muffins. We had our photograph taken up on Santa’s sleigh by a very lovely photographer who was great with organising us and getting all kids looking at the camera at once – no mean feat! Having your photo taken is an option and you can purchase it at the end. The quality of the print was brilliant but in saying that, there was no pressure to purchase and snapping pictures on your phone was not a problem. The kids sat to write their letters to Santa with help of an Elf and they got to post them right there in a North Pole postbox. The view from this area was just mesmerizing, it was dark by that time and the city of Dublin sprawled across the horizon like the brightest string of Christmas lights you’ve ever seen.
Now the absolute making of our visit to Luggwood’s Enchanted Forest, we got to meet Santa. This man was so special, a gentleman with the sparkle of mischief in his eye just as you’d expect from the real thing! He knew the kids all by name as they arrived and made an extra fuss of our birthday boy. Santa talked with the kids about their home county, a mention to everything from St. Brigid to musician Christy Moore and the army of the Curragh Camp. We chatted and giggled under no pressure to move along and had a lovely photo taken. Santa gave the kids nicely wrapped gifts and we left him laughing! Out the other side was a disco, more coffee, lovely areas to sit and relax while waiting for our return train journey plus a safe ball pit for the little ones.
As the elves waved us off we headed back down the hillside, still gazing out at the beautiful view.
“Daddy look! It’s the whole world” exclaimed Spencer.
The kids tore into their gifts as soon as we were seated on the train and I would say the quality of what they each received and very good. Lily got a really interesting 3D puzzle which she said she’ll lock herself into her room to make in peace! The boys were given a self-propelled tractor with trailer and a Meccano style Fighter Jet to assemble. I have an inkling that there was an accidental switch as these were handed out because Morgan (7) got the toy tractor while Spencer (4) got the much more complex toy Fighter Jet so we’re working out a swap!
We had been invited along as guests of Luggwood’s in exchange for an honest review but the cost for our family of five would have been €87.36 including booking fee. The booking fee element is probably a bit on the high side at €8.40 for a family. The whole visit was 90 minutes which was exactly perfect, it didn’t ever feel rushed or like we were on a schedule to move from A to B, the staff made sure this all happened in a gentle and fun way. I think, considering all things from that special Christmas buzz, the beautiful forest location, entertainment value and our time with Santa Claus, this was absolutely worth the ticket fees and I’d be more than happy to recommend it to friends and followers. This is a ticket only event, tickets can be purchased from www.luggwoods.ie and new this year, families have the option of booking an exclusive session made especially fun and comfortable for children with special or sensory needs, along with wheelchair users. Babies under one year old are free with a paying adult.
Thank you so much to Elaine and all the staff at Luggwoods for inviting our family to be part of this occasion and making us so welcome. We loved our first ever visit to this brilliant Christmas location, it was a pleasure to get to know the staff and, if rumors are to be believed, we might even be back up to meet the Easter Bunny come Spring time.
Disclaimer: We were invited along to the press and media launch of Santa’s Enchanted Forest and received an additional gift bag. Though I was not obliged to write a review, I am happy to do so based on a genuinely positive experience. All opinions are my own.