The Reindeer Retreat Cafe & Feeding Reindeer at Azure Garden Centre, Cramlington

This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for 2019. 

Unfortunately, the reindeer will not be visiting in 2020. Fingers crossed they are back for 2021.

The Reindeer Retreat Cafe & Feeding Reindeer at Azure Garden Centre, Cramlington

If you're looking for more ideas for places to visit with kids this Christmas, check out my full Guide to Christmas Events in North East England for Kids here.

Reindeer Feeding at Azure Garden Centre

The reindeer have arrived at Azure Garden Centre! You will find them in the outdoor plant section. Reindeer are completely free to visit during normal opening hours and they are lovely to see.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for location and opening times. 

Reindeer Feeding at Azure Garden Centre

Please note - the Reindeer enclosure will be closed from 11:30am-2pm during weekends to allow the reindeer time to rest.

Reindeer Feeding at Azure Garden Centre

You can purchase food from the dispensers (£1 coin) to feed to reindeer through the fence if you like. We have had a few different experiences with this - sometimes the reindeer will come straight over and feed from your hands and other times they just aren't interested (which is fair enough).

Reindeer Feeding at Azure Garden Centre

Before you purchase some food, I would recommend watching their behaviour and if they are feeding from others, go ahead. If they aren't, you are probably better off saving your £1. 

Reindeer Feeding at Azure Garden Centre

Please be careful with young children - although the reindeer are housed in an enclosed pen, they are still animals with huge antlers, hooves and teeth. Their antlers can extend beyond the fence so remain vigilant at all times.

We love feeding the reindeer at Azure and it is a tradition we carry out each year.

The Reindeer Retreat Tipi 2019 Booking Information

The Reindeer Retreat is a pop-up festive tipi near the reindeer enclosure which can be pre-booked for a special after school or weekend meal. The tipi is beautifully decorated with hay bales, Christmas lights, decorations and music -  it is a lovely way to spend time together over Christmas which does not include a Santa visit. 

The Reindeer Retreat Tipi 2019 Booking Information

Scroll to the bottom of this post for more photos from previous years. 

The Reindeer Retreat Tipi can be booked from 1-23 December. Find out more and book online here. 

Tickets cost £6.99 per person and include a hot meal from the following options:

The Reindeer Retreat Tipi 2019 Booking Information - menu

Afternoon Tea at the Reindeer Retreat Tipi 

This year, you can book afternoon tea at the Reindeer Retreat Tipi. Afternoon Tea is priced at just £13.50 per person and is available to book from 21 November - 23 December. 

Afternoon Tea at the Reindeer Retreat Tipi
Credit - Azure Garden Centre

Find out more and book Afternoon Tea in the Reindeer Retreat Tipi here. 

Here is a peek at the afternoon tea menu: 

Afternoon Tea at the Reindeer Retreat Tipi menu

If you're looking for more ideas for places to visit with kids this Christmas, check out my full Guide to Christmas Events in North East England for Kids here. 

Festive Fun at Azure Garden Centre

As well as the Reindeer Retreat Tipi and Reindeer Feeding, there is lots of festive fun going on at Azure Garden Centre. First of all, they have a festive carousel at their entrance available for £1.50 per child. It looks sweet!

Festive Face Painting at Azure Garden Centre

Lesley from Doodle Bugs will be providing festive face painting by the reindeer on the following dates for a small additional charge (around £3.50 I think):

Festive Face Painting at Azure Garden Centre

Christmas Market at Azure Garden Centre

Azure Garden Centre hosts a local market every Saturday and Sunday from 16 November - 8 December. The market is usually held near the reindeer enclosure and is a brilliant way to support local businesses.
The market is open from 9am-5pm every Saturday and 10:30am-4:30pm every Sunday. You can take a look at which local businesses are visiting & when here. 

Christmas Decorations at Azure Garden Centre

Personally, I feel like the decorations at Azure Garden Centre are worth a visit in their own right! They are beautiful and there are multiple themes to choose from. You will also find a nice gift selection too.

Christmas Decorations at Azure Garden Centre

Christmas Decorations at Azure Garden Centre

Christmas Decorations at Azure Garden Centre

Christmas Decorations at Azure Garden Centre

Christmas Decorations at Azure Garden Centre

Christmas Decorations at Azure Garden Centre

Cafe Azure 

You can pre-book breakfast or tea with Santa in Cafe Azure (please note this is NOTE the same as the Reindeer Retreat Tipi) or simply pop in for a coffee or bite to eat.

Prices are very reasonable and when you dine here, you are supporting the Azure Charity which aims to support disabled and disadvantaged people in the local area.

There is a free play park for kids if the weather is fine. 

Cafe Azure

Cafe Azure

(Past advert) 2017 Review, Photos and Info

Reindeer have been visiting Azure Garden Centre in Cramlington for the last five years or so. Situated in the outdoor section (near where the fish used to be) until Christmas Eve, they are nicely settled in now.

You don't need to book to visit the reindeer and there are food dispensers (£1) and handwash stations situated nearby as well as a photo station to capture the moment. 

(Advert) 2017 Review, Photos and Info

As well as visiting the reindeer, there are so many pretty lights and Christmas displays to look at in the centre - little ones will be captivated.

My three are quite cynical and have seen a lot of Christmas displays in their lives but they loved walking through the lights and admiring all of the Christmas decorations. It really got us in the mood for Christmas! Here's just a tiny peek at what's on offer: 

The Reindeer Retreat Cafe 2017 Review

The Reindeer Retreat Cafe is an additional event to the regular reindeer feeding on offer and must be pre-booked.
Tickets cost just £6 per adult (including a roast beef/turkey sandwich and hot drink) and £5 per child (including a children's meal, drink and packet of reindeer food).

It's a massive bargain and perfectly priced for an after school treat I think. 

The Reindeer Retreat is a cosy pop-up tipi and it really quite special inside. I was expecting it to be cold but it was lovely and warm with heating (my kids even had to take their coats off).

Everyone sits on hay bales and the tipi is lit up with fairy lights and filled with soft toy polar bears and reindeers. Lots of photo opportunities so don't forget your camera.

Food and drinks are pre-ordered on booking and are brought out to you soon after arrival. The whole event was very well organised and run with precision.

You wouldn't guess it was their first time. Due to the inexpensive cost, I really didn't have high expectations for the food but we were honestly pleasantly surprised.

The kids all enjoyed their children's meals and Steve and I devoured our hot beef sandwiches. The hot chocolates were delicious too and didn't taste cheap (which is so often the case at these kind of events). 

Everyone was in high spirits as we tucked into our food and I commented how Christmassy it all felt.

 Father Christmas does not visit as part of this event but in a way I think that's nice - sometimes too much pressure comes with a Father Christmas visit and I know many parents like to visit him just once which means the reindeer retreat is a nice and chilled out affair.

Our trays were cleared and then John from Azure introduced himself to us. John shared lots of reindeer facts with us that were fascinating for both kids and grown-ups.

I had no idea they stamped their hoof in water before drinking it (I'll let John tell you why they do this) and why male deer lose their antlers before the females do.

There was a chance for questions too and I found out that they think two of the deer are currently pregnant and Jack asked if the deer named Greedy was actually greedy.

Once we were filled with enough reindeer facts to call ourselves official Reindeer experts, we were all handed some special moss from Norway (which is exclusive for Reindeer Retreat guests) to feed the reindeer with.

Apparently, this moss is their favourite food. We left the tipi and headed towards the reindeer enclosure where we fed the deer through the fence. They loved the moss and were super cute! 

As the sun was setting, the tipi looked even more magical......

I have to say I think this event was so well executed and I'd recommend to families who are looking for an inexpensive festive treat with a difference. 

Local Christmas Markets at Azure Garden Centre, Cramlington 

During our trip to the Reindeer Retreat, it also happened to be a Christmas market weekend). The market supports local traders and we picked up some local wildlife photographs from Far Horizons, some cheese from Northumberland Cheese and Game Terrine from Hadrian's Game Larder.

It was also fabulous bumping into Handmade by Lolla Mac who create the most beautiful jewellery. If you're looking to support local businesses this Christmas, pop along to the Azure Christmas Market and you won't be disappointed. 

We spent around 90 minutes are Azure and it was completely stress-free which is so unusual for us! There was just no pressure, the atmosphere was lovely, the event was well-paced and organised and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 

Let me know if you plan on visiting the reindeer at Azure this year.

Azure Garden Centre Top Tips for Visiting 

  • Always check the Azure Garden Centre Facebook page before heading out, sometimes there may be last minute closures and cancellations. 
  • Bring £1 coins for the reindeer food dispenser 
  • Sometimes parking can be an issue, I would advise leaving plenty of time if visiting over a weekend
  • After school on a weekday is generally a quieter time to visit 
  • Remember, the Reindeer Retreat Tipi needs to be pre-booked but you can drop in to see the reindeer, decorations, carousel, markets and regular cafe at any time 
  • The reindeer enclosure will be closed over weekends between 11:30am-2pm
  • Azure Garden Centre is not far from Northumberlandia - why not combine a visit?

Opening times & location

Azure Garden Centre

Station Road,
NE23 8BJ
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The Reindeer Retreat Cafe & Feeding Reindeer at Azure Garden Centre, Northumberland


  1. OMG I LOVE the reindeer, what a brilliant idea! The cafe sounds great, such a bargain! Have to say I love a garden centre at Christmas time, they always do the best decorations and a visit never fails to get me in the holiday mood!

  2. Looks amazing! We’re hoping to get up to Northumberland over the festive period so can’t wait to drop in here!

  3. This looks fab, great value too and I like there is no santa as we only like to visit him once a year xx

  4. Hi guys we've been to visit the reindeer for the past 3yrs but can't find any dates for when they arrive if anyone knows I would apprieciat it.


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