I’ve already mentioned I’m a seasonal lights display junkie. (What, you don’t remember that post from last year? You don’t read and memorize every single post of mine? That’s okay, I’ve started to forget what I’ve written about, too. 200 posts, baby!)
We returned to Prinknash Bird and Deer Park again this year for our dosing of holiday lights and Father Christmas grotto magic. Before a sampling of photos, I have some tips to share if you are headed out that way, this year or next:
- Buy tickets online ahead of time. You’ll save a small charge per ticket, and when you arrive you can skip the line and go straight in.
- Wear your wellies.
- Although the paths are mostly paved and many parents seem to bring their push-carts, prams, and strollers, I would not consider this a stroller-friendly venue. It is stroller-possible, but looks extremely aggravating and has some off-road sections. It is wheel-chair accessible.
- If you go to the tent with Santa’s sleigh early, before the crowds, they might just let you take your own photo (instead of charging you for a professional shot).
- Go directly to Santa’s Grotto. You may think you want to wait until it is darker and the woodland lights walk is more festive, but you are incorrect. You want to get in that line right away, before it gets long. When the line gets long, the minders start to rush the visits to Santa, and the babies start to cry, and the parents start to get really cranky.
- After you see Santa visit the Fairy in her Gypsy Caravan. It’s a piece of magic on earth.
- The lines for facepainting are not as long as you think. Send one adult to get hot chocolate while the other waits with the kids.
- They do sell hot dogs but there is nowhere to sit. If you do find a seat it will be wet and covered in bird droppings. Unless your kids are good at walking and eating and holding their gifts from Santa in the dark while strolling over mud, skip the food.
- Don’t forget a visit to Rudolph and Prancer, the park’s reindeer. They are big and have very sharp antlers. This may surprise your little ones who are expecting a plushy small cuddly creature with a glowing nose.
- After you’ve seen Santa, had the facepainting, met the Fairy, gazed upon reindeer, and procured your hot chocolate, now is the time to take a slow stroll through the holiday lights in the woods. It will be dark and you can walk at leisure while poor parents push their prams or hurry-up their youngsters as they realize the line to see Santa is now about an hour long. Sip that hot chocolate and enjoy at your own pace.
Ducks crossing. Well-lit, holiday ducks.
The Christmas Fairy offers sweeties and listens to any wishes the children may have been too nervous to tell Santa.
Can I please live here, with you?
Prancer. Reindeer are not really very cute.
A pheasant, roosting overhead along the woodland walk.
Along the walk, this lights display over a pond is one of my favorites. Probably because it looks like something even I could put up.
A new display this year. I’m going to say in honor of The Hobbit, but I doubt that’s true. Still, spread the rumor.
A look back along part of the walk, with the new tree and a new toddler-sized gypsy caravan.
A view over another pond, to the woodland walk in the distance.