It’s December – can you even believe it?
I love this season so much but, between a busy work schedule and the cloud of transfer tests hanging over us lately (if you know, you know!) there hasn’t been an awful lot of festive spirit around these parts. Still, I feel like it’s never good to peak too early with these things (and it is only just December Emma. Calm down! 😉 ) Plenty of time for mass hysteria, and my wardrobe of festive knits to make their appearance, in the coming weeks.
With Noah finishing up all his exams on Saturday, it was the perfect excuse to do something fun to celebrate. Oakfield Park had invited us to experience their Santa Express, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The best way to kick off advent, and some much needed R&R for my little clan.
Oakfield is situated in Co.Donegal and home to award winning gardens and parkland. Perhaps its most unique feature is its 4.5km narrow gauge railway though, with a diesel and steam train operating trips around the estate. In the period running up to Christmas this little train is transformed into The Santa Express, and there never was a more fitting way to be transported to see the man himself.
Although our booking wasn’t until the evening (which I’d really recommend to properly take advantage of all the fairy lights and installations through the estate) we called in earlier in the day to take some pictures and get a feel for the whole experience. From the elves and the Nutcracker who met us in the Plaza, to Mrs Claus’ storytime and the craft area, Reindeer games and reindeer food station, there was so much to keep us busy. Annie even got to hold the actual key to Santa’s workshop (which Mrs Claus keeps FYI. Apparently Santa is way too forgetful and keeps losing it. 😉 )
After scoping out the park we nipped to our hotel (This one. It was so lovely, I’d thoroughly recommend. The perfect cosy Winter escape!) to drop off our bags and have some dinner. Refuelled, we headed back to Oakfield for the main event.
You might have caught some of the action on Stories (I’ve saved it there as a highlight now if you’d like to see.) It was hard to do it justice on camera really. I find these things often can’t be properly summed up in a photo or video, but it was so lovely and really magical to step aboard a little vintage steam train, be tucked in by the elves and sent off to Santa’s castle. On arrival there, we were met by more elves who played games and kept us entertained while each family was taken one by one in to see the main man. Because the kids were involved in activity outside it didn’t feel like a long wait, and we weren’t even really aware that there was a queue at all. It’s what set this apart from other similar experiences we have been to. When it was our turn to go in, we had a little chat with St Nick, the kids were given lovely gifts (which actually were really generous considering the cost of the experience isn’t an extortionate one) and we had opportunity for a photo before heading back to the train for the magical return trip.
It was the loveliest evening, and something really different to the usual at this time of year. There is no obligation to rush off after your train ride either, and a restaurant, coffee truck and playpark are all available to use.
Oakfield Park closes after the Christmas period until it reopens in the Spring, but we are already planning a trip back in the Summer, to take advantage of the beautiful gardens and explore the new maze which isn’t long completed. It’s a little gem in the crown of what is one of the prettiest counties in Ireland.
And the perfect way to kick off Christmas.
**Thank you so much to Oakfield Park and The Villa Rose for having us this weekend. All thoughts, opinions, images and love of a bit of festive magic, entirely our own.**