Kielder Winter Wonderland Review & Tips


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Kielder Winter Wonderland Review & Tips

Kielder Winter Wonderland features in our Guide to What's On in North East England for Kids this Christmas and I am so pleased that we were finally able to visit this weekend. This post will feature all you need to know about Kielder Winter Wonderland. It is a pretty long post & there is lots to take in but I hope I have answered your questions and provided an idea of what to expect.


Kielder Winter Wonderland is like a one-day Just So Festival. Filled with magical entertainment, engaging experiences and magical opportunities which will make the grown-ups smile just as much as the kids.

We visited on a mild day in November and the whole event felt really relaxed and chilled. The fact that there is very limited phone signal in Kielder really added to the experience and it is the perfect place to really bond and connect with your family over Christmas.

Kielder Winter Wonderland is a full day out - we were there from 10:30am - 5pm.

There is no getting away from the fact that Kielder Winter Wonderland is an expensive and premium activity, for us (and many others judging by the comments I have received on Facebook), it was 100% worth it. I had such a lovely day with Jack (8) and Heidi (10). Read on to discover what we got up to.....

There are still limited tickets available to book for 2019  - find out more an book online here. 

When you book online, you pick your time slot to visit Father Christmas (have a secret ready) and your tickets/itinerary are posted or emailed out to you.

Arrival at Kielder Winter Wonderland 




Arrival at Kielder Winter Wonderland

The first thing I would say about arrival is CHECK YOUR TIMINGS. I was very silly and looked at my tickets, I spotted that my Father Christmas visit was at 3:40pm and the first activity was 11:40am so put this time in my phone as a reminder . It wasn't until the morning of our trip that I realised there was actually an earlier activity at 10:40am later on in my itinerary. I have no idea why this wasn't the first one listed!

It is a little confusing but also my fault for not checking properly. Anyway, after a bit of a mad dash in the morning, we got there in time with 5 minutes to spare. Phew! I would aim to arrive 20 minutes before your first activity (or earlier) if you can though! Gives you time to get your bearings.

The drive to Kielder wasn't bad at all - around 1 hr 20 minutes from Cramlington. You need to take your printed tickets you are sent in the post and show these to a car park attendant on arrival. They will then provide you with a map and direct you to parking.

Parking was plentiful and free. We were in Car Park A right by the main Tipi. You can easily come and go to your car throughout the day. I hope you like our video......

There are four timed activities at Kielder Winter Wonderland and you simply need to turn up to the meeting point 5 minutes before your allocated time (which has been provided in advance). The time in between is used for un-timed activities which you can simply drop into.

I expected activities to be pretty far apart but they were actually close together. There were a few wheelchair users there on the day of our visit and the site is accessible (if a little muddy) and pushchairs are fine too (bring an all-terrain one if you have one).

The whole day worked out really well with the mix of timed and drop-in activities. We never felt rushed or as if we were hanging around waiting for something - it was the perfect blend!



Timed Activities at Kielder Winter Wonderland 


The Beavers


I have been lucky enough to see The Beavers before - they visited our local Surestart years ago and I still remember how fantastic they were. They really make an impression.

The Beavers are professional, engaging storytellers with music. We gathered in the theatre, grabbed a seat on a hay bale and listened to their festive tale.

Throughout the story/song, lots of audience participation is encouraged (although never forced) and the children really enjoyed learning the actions to new songs. Towards the end of the performance, we were all handed a Christmas Bell to shake as we learned a new Christmas song/dance and all joined in a circle around the room. 

At the end of the story/dance/songs, we were all invited to hang our Christmas bells on the tree and make a wish which was nice.

The Beavers are a little bit silly but totally enchanting - they really get into character!

The Beavers





Elves Workshop & Father Christmas


This was our final activity and if you have older children (aged 5+ who won't get too tired throughout the day, I would 100% recommend booking the last time slot to visit Father Christmas as it is super magical walking through the woods in the dark with all of the twinkly lights.

Your Father Christmas experience begins in the workshop. You stumble upon a sleeping elf and have to join forces to wake him/her from their slumber.

The dazed elf realises she won't be able to finish making the toys by herself and asks the children to help.....

Elves Workshop & Father Christmas at Kielder Winter Wonderland


A quick demo and the kids were on their way making their very own pencil holders. They really enjoyed doing this and I love the wooden link to the forest.




Before you know it, there is a knock on the door and another elf asks the children if they would like to go on an adventure - of course they would! So we follow on a magical fairy-lit walk through the trees.



The elves are so lush - they really engage with the kids, check all of the children are involved/can see and are very child-like. We were skipping through the woods in the dark at one point. You cant help but get carried away with it all.



Just before you meet Father Christmas, you will meet his neighbour in the woods. This could be in a toadstool or a cuckoo clock depending on your group. We met Dandelion the Welsh Elf who lives in a toadstool and I just loved the setting!

The elf shared with us a tale of the old trees in the forest. We had to work together to warm them up (some kids were even doing push ups) and hunt for patches on the forest floor to make them all cosy.

Our plan worked and one of the ancient trees started talking to us. Magical! I love, love, loved this part of the experience. The elf here was so funny and had both grown-ups and children laughing and smiling.


It was time to move on though and as we reached the Christmas Cabin, all of the children were invited to the front to knock on the door. It felt really special when Father Christmas opened the door.


Now this version of Father Christmas isn't the best one I have ever seen and I know the group setting isn't for everyone but all the same, I found it to be a magical experience. Santa was so warm and kind and the children were captivated.


Santa took the time to speak with each child and Heidi was amazed that he knew she was a Sports Leader. Jack was equally impressed as Santa told him that he loved Fish & Chips just like Jack. Ah their faces were beaming! We had got to know a few of the faces in our group throughout the day and seeing their faces light up as Santa shared their little secret was heartwarming.


Father Christmas hands all children a special Kielder Winter Wonderland bauble in a box. This is high quality, unique and I believe the design is different each year. A lovely reminder of your day.

He also gifts each child a magic key which they can later use to open the door in the toy emporium in the main tipi. The elves in here will ask the children to pick any toy they like to take home (from a range of soft toys). This really extended the magic for H & J and was a lush way to end the day.

There is time to pose for photos with Santa too if you wish.



Christmas Theatre

This year's show is the Elves and the Shoemaker. The children gather by the front of the stage and the grown-ups sit on hay bales towards the back. The tale is shared with live music, silly expressions, songs and a little bit of magic. It was lovely and had a fantastic twist at the end which I won't ruin for you but left us smiling.


Christmas Theatre at Kielder Winter Wonderland




Mrs Christmas

I think meeting Mrs Christmas was my favourite part of the day. First of all, she pops up in the most unexpected of places. As part of her introduction, she shakes hands with the children and encourages little ones and grown-ups to do the same with their neighbours as part of a song which is nice.

I didn't catch the other two performers' names but they were brilliant too. We loved hearing about the reindeer and listening to the music.

Mrs Christmas  at Kielder Winter Wonderland






Mrs Christmas is a very relatable character - there is just SO much to do in the run-up to the big day and sometimes it is easy to forget something. You are taken on a walk through the forest where you have to spot the 10 keys to Christmas hidden in the trees.


Mrs Claus then shares a song featuring the 10 key ingredients to Christmas and we all get involved with the actions. This was loads of fun with a couple of little jokes just for the grown-ups and I especially enjoyed stirring the cake (which reminds me - I still need to make ours!)





Drop-in Activities at Kielder Winter Wonderland

The following activities are something you can drop into at any time. There weren't many queues at all and we managed to see everything throughout the day in between timed activities without feeling as if we were rushed.

Snowy Owl & Friends

Entry to the Kielder Bird of Prey Centre is included with your Kielder Winter Wonderland ticket. The entrance is just behind the elves workshop and within very easy walking distance of everything.

The centre is pretty big and there were lots of Birds of Prey to meet. Heidi and Jack were able to stroke a couple of the owls too which they loved. Entrance to the centre is normally £23 per family so it is brilliant that it's included.

Birds of Prey at Kielder Winter Wonderland


Meeting Owls at Kielder Winter Wonderland

Snow Tubing

We missed out on Snow Tubing during our trip to Liverpool as it was closed at the time of our visit so H & J were over the moon to see that they could have a try here.

You simply queue up and then have three turns. You can do this as many times as you like throughout the day which is brilliant ! (Snow tubes normally cost around £6 for three turns). The Snow Tube is right by the food and drink stalls and heated marquee so if you have older kids like I do, you can just let them play on this while you watch on with a coffee.

The staff on the snow tube were fantastic - really fun, chatting with the kids, spinning the kids around, helping with the tyres/seating the kids in the correct position and generally really good eggs.

There is a pretty low height restriction as toddlers were able to go on with their parents. Under 1s are not permitted to ride, those aged 1-4  or under 1.2m need to ba accompanied and children over 1.2m and aged 5+ can ride alone (the child needs to be able to carry the tyre up the stars otherwise a parent will have to go on with them).

H & J LOVED this activity. They said it went really fast and they had lots (and lots) of turns across the day. The queue was never too long but it was quieter later in the day.


Snow Tubing at Kielder Winter Wonderland





Carols Christmas Shop

You can pop into the Christmas shop on-site for essentials or Christmas Gifts.

Reindeer

Wow the reindeer at Kielder are super friendly and keen to say hello. You can buy food for £1 from the dispensers or just say hello. They are located in the heart of the action and really are beautiful. We loved meeting them.

Reindeer at Kielder Winter Wonderland



Toyporium

Once you have been provided with a magic key from Father Christmas, you can use it to unlock the Toyporium in the main tipi. The Toyporium is filled with soft toys - elves, Santas, snowmen and reindeer. Children can choose one to bring home. 

Toyporium at Kielder Winter Wonderland





Food or Hot Chocolates in the Marquee

There is the main tipi plus a marquee where you can pop in at any time. Your own food is allowed in the marquee too. These areas are heated really well - in fact I had to take my coat off and on the day of our visit, there was plenty of seating available. I will share more about the food on offer and prices further down this post.

Food and picnic  marquee at Kielder Winter Wonderland



Play Areas

There are three play areas at Kielder Winter Wonderland - conveniently located near some of the timed activities. H & J loved having a play rather than queuing up with me. The play areas are in brilliant condition but very muddy so don't put children in their best clothes as they won't be able to resist.

Play area at Kielder Winter Wonderland

Play areas  at Kielder Winter Wonderland





Christmas Wishing Tree

Inside the main teepee is a Christmas Wishing Tree where you can fill out our your wish and hang on the tree. H & J wished for snow (again). Please no! We had a few peeks at some of the other wishes and it seems like many children have wished for the same this year.

Christmas Wishing Tree at Kielder Winter Wonderland



The Hide / Boat Inn Pub

I wasn't sure how far the pub would be from the main site but it is right in the heart of it - in fact the Boat Inn is where you will find the main toilets (they are on the side of the building and proper toilets). You can visit the pub for a carvery (£6 for kids) or drink if you need to warm up between activities. We didn't do this so I can't comment on the food.



What to Wear 


We visited on a dry and mild day but it had rained heavily the day before so it was pretty muddy. I would say layers are your best bet. Many children were wearing waterproof trousers as an outer layer and I am so pleased I put these on H&J as it kept them cosy and dry (plus they ended up filthy but are super easy to wash). I would recommend thick socks and walking boots or wellies on your feet. This is not the event to wear your lovely velvet boots or high heels to.

A lot of Kielder Winter Wonderland is outdoors so a waterproof coat with a hood, waterproof gloves and hats are recommended.

Lots of families were wearing Christmas jumpers and hats which were cute!

I would recommend wearing a small backpack and bringing anti-bac wipes, £1 coins for reindeer food, money for the food vendors and a few snacks and drinks. 


Mud at Kielder Winter Wonderland



Food & Prices at Kielder Winter Wonderland 



You can bring your own food and drinks to Kielder Winter Wonderland and enjoy in the heated Marquee. I wasn't that prepared though so visited the food stalls.

Prices varied SO much so if you are on a budget, do your research before purchasing. For example, a burger in a bun was just £3.50 from Kielder Organics where as an instant hot chocolate was £3 from Canny Coffee.

Small bottles of fruit shoot were just 50p from Kielder Organics and cans of pop were generally £1.

We decided to order two pizzas and two portions of fries from the Elves Eatery to share (£22). They were delicious and I would recommend here. Their toasties looked fantastic too.

There were plenty of Vegan and Vegetarian options available with Vegan Cakes and Hot Chocolate available from Canny Coffee.

Elves Eatery at Kielder Winter Wonderland


Kielder Organic Meats at Kielder Winter Wonderland

Dinky Doughnuts at Kielder Winter Wonderland


In the afternoon we treated ourselves to Waffles (£5 ish) and Doughnuts (£3 for 12 mini ones) and hot chocolate - again, we thoroughly enjoyed and the quality was really good.


Waffles  at Kielder Winter Wonderland



As well as the food stalls as mentioned above, there is the site's own pub and cafe too.





The Best Age for Kielder Winter Wonderland


Kielder Winter Wonderland is an expensive day out and I know for many, it is the kind of place you save up for and only visit once. I often see people asking what is the best age.

Kielder Winter Wonderland is aimed at children aged 4-10 and their families and I would say that they have this spot on. There were younger babies and siblings there who had a fun day but those who could understand what was going on and engage with the performers and experience really did get the most out of their day.

In terms of older children, I know Harry (13) would have hated it and found it to be very childish. He would have liked the snow tubing and the birds of prey though and there were a few 11/12 year olds there who still looked like they were having fun. I guess it depends on the child. Heidi has already asked to return next year and she will be 11 then....

If I had to narrow the ages down even further, I think the children aged 5-8 found it to be the best. If you are only going to visit once, I would aim for those ages. 

Where to Stay

Kielder Winter Wonderland offer the option to stay on-site in one of their lodges on booking. The lodges are within walking distance of Kielder Winter Wonderland and look lovely - some even have hot tubs! This would 100% be my preferred option.


Driving Home from Kielder Winter Wonderland


I visited Kielder Winter Wonderland solo with H & J as Steve was working. I will admit, I was dreading the drive home. I am not a fan of driving in the dark so was worried about how I would cope by myself in an area with no road lighting and certified dark skies.

To add to my worries, it was super foggy on the night of our drive home too.

However, I did it and do you know what - it was actually fine. Worrying about it was far worse than actually doing it. With a little help from my Sat Nav and fog lights, we were home in no time. I would even do it again! There are a few cars on the road as people seem to leave the event together after their last timed activity so you don't feel like you are alone.

Don't let a fear of driving home put you off (or book a lodge if you are worried and drive home during daylight).


Top Tips for Visiting Kielder Winter Wonderland


  • Prepare for no phone signal and very limited WiFi in the pub (this is actually nice and helps you switch off). 
  • Double-check your timing and itinerary before setting off. 
  • Bring cash for food and drink vendors and £1 coins for reindeer food. There is no cashpoint on site.  
  • Invest in waterproof trousers and thermal socks 
  • Do not put kids in their best clothes - they will get dirty 
  • Bring antibacterial hand wipes. The handwashing station was out of order on our visit and the toilets were on the edge of the site and a few minutes away from the parks/food areas. Jack & Heidi ended up with muddy hands on more than one occasion and it was a bit of a hassle having to keep walking to the loos with them 
  • Make sure your car has enough fuel - Kielder is not the place to run out of fuel
  • I would recommend bringing a flask of hot chocolate and snacks to keep the costs down
  • If you have under 4s with you , I would probably recommend booking an early time slot of Father Christmas so they are not overtired. An early evening slot for older children is just magical 
  • You can bring pushchairs and cars are very accessible throughout the day if you need to leave a picnic in there



Does Kielder Winter Wonder Offer Good Value?

Kielder Winter Wonderland is available to book from £39.50 per person. This is a premium Christmas event and I think it is probably the most expensive Christmas experience in the North East. It therefore needs to deliver on value and I really think it does.

Kielder Winter Wonderland really feels like a premium event - the entertainment is of the highest quality, the decorations and attention to detail are fantastic and it is a full day of fun. You do not feel as if you are constantly putting your hand in your pocket either - once you have paid for your tickets, you don't have to spend another penny if you don't want to.

As mentioned in my introduction, Kielder Winter Wonderland is almost like a mini-festival and £39.50 is substantially cheaper than most festival day tickets.

I think price is very subjective so have listed what is included with the cost below (and comparable costs):
  • Father Christmas Visit with Bauble, Magic Key & Soft Toy - £15 
  • Elf Workshop with Toy Making - £6 
  • Christmas Theatre Production - £7 
  • Beavers Christmas Show - £5 
  • Mrs Christmas Performance - £5 
  • Unlimited Snow Tubing - £10 
  • Birds of Prey Visit - £5 

Total = £53 which I think shows you do get pretty good value (especially as I personally think that some of the experiences mentioned are actually worth more).

How To Buy Tickets 


There are still limited tickets available for 2019 - you can buy online via the Kielder Winter Wonderland website here or call 0800 111 4149.  Groups of up to 11 can be booked online and there needs to be a ratio of one adult to two children. Check out the full t&cs here. 


Let me know if you have visited Kielder Winter Wonderland (or if you would like to). After visiting myself, it is an attraction I can definitely recommend.


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Kielder Winter Wonderland Review





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1 comment

  1. Wow this must have taken you ages to write up - it all sounds brilliant! There's just so much to do!

    I know it's a lot of money but it really does sound like it's worth every penny for the experience. When does it usually start because I'm seriously thinking we should get the kids up for it next year, perhaps earlier in the season when it first starts. I'd love to treat them to this, I know they'd love it!

    PS - REALLY want that elves umbrella with the fairy lights!

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