We wanted to take Toddler H to see Santa on a steam train as she loves her train set and Thomas the Tank Engine. She has just tuned two so we wanted it to be special and not necessarily just about seeing Santa in case she didn’t understand or cried. With this in mind we booked the Santa train at Evesham Country Park (The Valley). We headed to Evesham, around 30-40 minutes from Cheltenham or Gloucester, to their Santa train.
We thought this would tick all the boxes:
- Family afternoon out
- Christmas shopping/browsing in the garden centre
- A train ride (her first!)
- Meeting Santa
- A hot mince pie for mummy and daddy #parentingwin
- Quieter than the train near Cheltenham
It did actually tick all those boxes, and was a lovely experience.
If you haven’t been to The Valley at Evesham Country Park it’s a lovely place and quite child friendly.
The Valley Evesham at Christmas
The Valley Evesham Country Park shopping area is a nice size, not too big and very Chrotmasy with decorations, trees and ice skating, as well as the Christmas train with a visit to Santa’s grotto. It’s nice that there isn’t too much walking and there are shops and places for a coffee if you fancy, but it is equally easy to avoid them if you just want to do the train and meet Santa. And, vice versa, I guess it’s also as easy to avoid the train and Santa and just do a bit of Christmas shopping or ice skating.
We didn’t look round many shops as Toddler H was getting a bit tired and was obsessed with these numbers painted outside the garden centre. “My nunmurs” she said (or shouted), especially if she spotted any other child venture onto them!
Anyway, we had a wander, watched the ice skating, admired the Christmas trees and played with the numbers for an hour before our scheduled Santa train departure.
Santa Train at Evesham Country Park
We headed to the railway station about 10 minutes early and H got very excited, running off towards it, like a girl on a mission. She loved the train, smiling away saying “choo choo train”. Now, this is a small train, and the carriages are small too, but being penned in our own compartment was great because H could look around, peer out the window and we didn’t need to worry about her running the whole length of the carriage. She absolutely loved it.
Now, first off the train ride is short, only 10-15 minutes, but it was a really nice length, and they kept us busy the whole time spotting presents hidden in the trees.
On arrival at the station the kids went up to tell the ticket collector how many they’d spotted and they were given a chocolate tree decoration. I thought this was a lovely touch. H devoured hers back on the train, and we went through four or five wipes cleaning her up. I’m not sure how she ended up so messy and if she actually ate much chocolate or it mostly just melted in her hands.
On arrival back at the starting point we went to see Santa. There was a little waiting area marquee, where we had delicious warm mince pies.
After only a few minutes, maybe five, it was our turn. We headed in to a festive log cabin and immediately on seeing us enter, Santa said “she might cry”, which reassured us no end that he knew what he was taking about. Let’s face it, a strange man in a red suit you’ve seen on TV is suddenly real and taking to you and asking you questions!
Yes, that could be scary!
H didn’t say anything, but was definitely fairly happy with this Samta, she sat with daddy, and the lovely elf took a photo of all of us with Santa too. H was pleased with her present and held onto it with a vengence until we got back to the car. She loves her penguin-owl!
Our train was later on in the day, so by the time we were finished it was getting dark and as H opened her present hubby saw a beak poking out and said ooooh a penguin. It turned out to be an owl but H has been adamant since that moment that it is a penguin. “NOOOOOO PENGIN” we try explaining and reasoning but nope, it’s still a penguin, apparently because he has a yellow beak and yellow feet!
Anyway, I thoroughly recommend a visit here, Father Christmas was a good’un, and it was brilliant value too…
There were quite a few options and deals for tickets on their website, but a family of 2 adults and 1 child (age 2), was £12.75. So it is fantastic value!
There are a few other Christmassy things going on at The Valley the week before Christmas, including ice skating and a giant snow globe, so it’s well worth a visit.
Update: October 2019: we’ve now visited The Valley at Evesham a number of times and still thoroughly recommend it for afternoons out. The train is fantastic and if you get off at the stop you can play at a lovely playground. In summer they even put up a beach which is great fun.