Tulleys Christmas Experience
I cannot recommend Tulleys Christmas Experience enough. We had a wonderful day and made some incredible memories. James was talking about it all on the way home, and again today. I like that it’s not trying to be something it isn’t.
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If you’re a regular around here you’re probably aware we’re big fans of Tulleys Farm. They can pull off a world-class Halloween event, but – can they do Christmas? We were invited down to the Tulleys Christmas Experience and see just how the Crawley based farm can measure up. We’ve never been before, so it was a bit of an ‘unknown quantity’, however, knowing Tulleys, I had a sneaking suspicion it would be pretty damned good.
When is the Tulleys Christmas Experience on, and how much does it cost?
The Tulleys Christmas Experience opened this weekend, and will be available on 7th,8th,14th,15th,19th-24th December 2019. It’s open from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm (or 5.00 pm on Christmas Eve). The only thing that is time dependant is the ‘Santa’s Sleigh Ride’. You book a time slot for that at the time of booking. You can arrive as early as you like, so, for example, we arrived at 11.30 am and we had our Sleigh Ride booked for 1 pm.
The prices vary on the date you visit – so for example next weekend a Child (1-13yrs) is £34.95, a Tiddler (Under 1yr) is £9,95 and an Adult is £12.95. Then, on Christmas Eve it’s Child (1-13yrs) is £39.95, a Tiddler (Under 1yr) is £14,95 and an Adult is £14.95. I’ll explain exactly what you get for your money in the review.
There are a few small fairground style rides available, these are an extra cost. If you want to use the ice rink, you can buy tickets in advance or on the day (subject to availability) it’s £6 per child or £8 per adult (stability aids are available for £4 each). Tickets are available here.
So.. Tell me more about Tulleys Christmas Experience…
I’m not going to go into masses of details about each of the experiences – I find it better to do these things a little ‘blind’. We walked into Tulleys Christmas Experience really not knowing what to expect. When we went to the entrance we were met by a friendly elf who explained everything to us. The adults get handed tickets for the Sleigh Ride and the Children get given a little booklet which they need to keep hold of as it’s a ‘ticket’ for all the experiences. Inside it, there’s also a little ‘Find the Elf’ challenge too which, if they complete it, will earn them an extra gift!
It was quite surreal, because Tulleys Christmas Experience is all very familiar, but also wildly different to the Tulleys I recognise! I think the most striking thing is that it’s not trying to be a replica of Lapland, it’s a festive as hell, but still staying true to the farm ‘roots’. I’d definitely recommend some wellies, the ground isn’t particularly boggy or sticky, but your bright white trainers might not be as bright, or white after. There’s not reams of fake snow everywhere – although if you hang around the big ‘Tulleys Christmas Experience’ sign just as you’re inside the farm, there’s a snow machine that fires every-so-often for a fun festive snap.
Once you’re inside there are a myriad of festive activities included in the ticket price. As I mentioned above the only activity you MUST do at a set time is Santa’s Sleigh Ride. The Christmas Circus, Reindeer Talks and Reindeer Flying School run at different intervals during the day (the timings are printed on the booklet). All the other activities you can do when you like, you just join the queue. When we went on opening day it was actually pretty quiet, and the queues were swift. However, it’s clear the Tulleys Christmas Experience has the capacity for the busiest of days – so hopefully the queues will be minimal.
The Gingerbread Decorating was a lot of fun – Mother Christmas and her assistant Cookie were FAB. The Elves Secret Forest was something wickedly simple, but very clever, you NEED the ‘magic’ glasses on to enjoy it.
Obviously the main attraction is ‘Santa’s Sleigh Ride & Storytelling’ – that’s where you get to meet the big man himself! Because you’re on a farm, the ‘sleigh’ is pulled by a tractor. You’re taken into the Magical Woods to meet Santa, and it is LOVELY. Santa tells a cute story, and the kids get a few minutes to chat with him, to put in their requests. They also take photos whilst you’re in Santa’s cabin, which are £12 for one or £18 for two and a digital download. There’s a sign politely asking not to take your own photographs. Santa will give each child a star. Once you’ve taken the Sleigh back to the station you need the star token to visit the Toy Shop or Make a Bear Workshop. There are a good selection of Toys and Games in the Toy Shop, and a variety of Bears to build. James opted to visit the ‘Make a Bear Workshop’ and came away with a cute Penguin toy. Plus the star token gets turned into a tree decoration.
All the activities are included in the ticket price. This isn’t really a place to go without kids – all the activities are aimed at them. We came away with the custom made Teddy Bear, a bag of Reindeer Food, a gift for finding all the Elves, and the tree decoration – as well as a shedload of memories.
It’s worth mentioning that all the staff, Actors, and Elves were absolutely brilliant. SO good. There were all wonderful with James. James can be a little funny with people in outfits or ‘characters’ – the staff at Tulleys Christmas Experience were all very understanding and kind about that. He did decide he’d like a picture with Scruffles the Scarecrow and an Elf though. I loved how engaging they were with the children and keen to listen to them. James was utterly transfixed by our Elf on Santa’s Sleigh Ride, giggling at the silly jokes and joining in with them as we went on our journey.
You’ll probably find yourself at Tulleys Christmas Experience over a mealtime, and there are plenty of ‘street food’ style places to grab a bite to eat. The prices are pretty reasonable. You could easily bring a picnic if you wanted to. There’s also a Bavarian-style ‘Bar’ serving a host of alcoholic beverages, as well as some fab warm drinks. James smashed back a Nutella Hot Chocolate in RECORD time.
There’s also a little ‘Christmas Market’ area, with various festive wares available – I was actually surprised at how reasonable it all was. We got James a new stocking, personalised with his name for £8, they did the personalisation on the spot too, great if you have a weird name like me!
I really like that Tulleys Christmas Experience doesn’t have a shed-load of hidden charges. You’re not being ripped off at every turn – sure, you COULD buy an outfit for your Teddy, or a photo souvenir. But you don’t need to, your ticket gives you a whole host of activities and some stuff to bring home too. If money is tight you could easily bring a packed lunch, spend nothing more than your ticket price, and still come home with some great gifts. That said, if you do want to treat yourself, you won’t find yourself being ripped off, which is rare for events like this.
I cannot recommend Tulleys Christmas Experience enough. We had a wonderful day and made some incredible memories. James was talking about it all on the way home, and again today. I like that it’s not trying to be something it isn’t. You’re on Tulleys Farm, with the festivities cranked up to the max – there aren’t lashings of pretend snow, they don’t have grumpy elves chain-smoking next to a scabby reindeer. It’s a wonderful, hearty, well-executed Christmas experience – I left there excited for Christmas, and not feeling like I’d spent all my savings to have a good day.
As ever, it’s the staff that really are the finishing touch to these kinds of experiences, and the staff at Tulleys Christmas Experience are incredible. All of them had a smile and boundless energy, these guys and girls really made the day perfect.
It’s hard to fault Tulleys – so – I won’t. If you can get to Tulleys Christmas Experience, then without question – GO!
Disclaimer – I was gifted tickets to Tulleys Christmas Experience. Please don’t think this has swayed my review, I understand how expensive days out are and I wouldn’t recommend something I wouldn’t be happy paying for. All opinions are my own.