Tickets were £12 each (including our 3 year old) so £60 in total. Very steep however I believed it would be great value for money and worth it.
The attraction is open from 4pm-9pm on their Christmas evenings and tickets must be pre-booked. We left our home in South East Northumberland at 3:30pm and it took about an hour to travel due to heavy traffic.
We arrived at the main entrance at 4:30pm and were invited to enjoy a glass of warm mulled wine (juice for children) and mince pies. This was all included in the admission and a lovely unexpected touch.
We were all very keen to see Santa and asked a guide which way was best. We were told the easiest way was to walk. This took about 5-10 minutes. We joined the queue for the grotto and were slightly dismayed at how long the queue seemed. We still joined though as this was the main reason for our visit.
The queue was well organised with a refreshment stall at the beginning and various tasks for children (and adults) to enjoy at several stations throughout the queue. We really enjoyed learning to spin plates, juggling and colouring festive pictures.
The queue was however still very long and at times not the best experience with a tired 2 year old. We were very relieved to see the entrance to the grotto.
In this part of the queue children were encouraged to write their letters to Santa and they could post them in the special post box.
We FINALLY reached the front of the queue and were taken as a family to see Santa. I'm pleased to say the wait was worth it. Santa was fantastic and had lots of time for all of our children (especially our 2 year old who asked how Santa was going to come if there was no snow).
The children received some lovely wooden toys and a chocolate toy as gifts and loved the whole experience.
It was however 7:15pm when we left Santa's grotto so the whole experience took 2hrs 45minutes which in my eyes, when we have paid £60 is completely unacceptable. Most other large attraction's have allocated time slots to visit Santa and I really think this is something that needs to be looked at by Beamish.
We waited for the bus to the town and waited and waited and waited. We had waited 20 minutes and there was no sign of anything, so along with the rest of the queue we crossed over the road and caught the tram (which goes in the opposite direction so takes longer).
We arrived at the town at 8pm so we only had 1 hour until closing and the only thing we experienced was visiting Santa! I was not a happy bunny.
The town was however lovely, a brass band were playing in the bandstand, there were barrels selling hot chestnuts (although they were sold out by the time we got there) and the street looked very festive indeed.
After a stroll around we caught the tram back to the carpark and left Beamish at 8:45pm. I
There were so many lovely events and experiences on offer, just a shame we didn't have time to experience them. These included:-
•Gerorgian twelfth night celebrations at Pockerley old hall
•Ice skating on a real ice rink
•Punch and Judy Shows at the Carriage house
•Joining a lantern parade singing carols around the village
•Watching fire eaters
•Christmas activities in the bank room. carpark and left Beamish at 8:45pm.
The parts of Beamish we did experience were all lovely. We did feel let down by how long the queue was for Santa and this had a knock on effect for the rest of the evening and did not allow us enough
Update - I contacted Beamish to let them know about the problems we encountered and I have to say they took my comments very seriously. I was offered a free return pass as an apology but more importantly they promised to change the way things worked in 2014 which is great to hear.