Christmas is a time of year for reflection.
A time when we take stock of our personal achievements or in my case take stock of the things that I haven’t bothered to achieve & have just put on the long finger for next year. If procrastination was an Olympic sport I would be a non runner, seeing as I wouldn’t have bothered to turn up to take part.
“Why do today what you can put off to tomorrow”
What I did realise today is that I am on course to achieve yet another year on my outstanding unbroken run that stretches back to 1980 & something. Yep, I have notched up 30 plus years on Santa’s Nice list!
With such an impressive record I’m a bit of an aficionado when it comes to Santa Claus. Having visited him in such exotics places as,
The Abbeycentre (his beard was attached with elastic & he had an ashtray beside him)
The Jungle in Northern Ireland (more of a forest to be fair)
Walt Disney World, Florida (not to shabby, but considering the pain of the cost of that one, he should have been legally required to buy me dinner first)
Disneyland Resort Paris (3 hours queuing in a very wet & cold suburb of Paris)
Mall at Millenia, Orlando (So good I’m convinced this was THE real Santa!)
Santa’s Cottage, his official Ireland residence. (Fun journey sliding sideways down a mountain to get home)
and several time’s in the local village hall (where I find it difficult to call him Santa & not just Jimmy)
Last night I opted to visit him somewhere new. Glenarm Castle in the village of Glenarm on the Antrim Coast. Although It’s only about 20 minutes away from home, Glenarm Christmas Experience, always sells out quickly, with eager visitors snapping up tickets when they are released in mid September.
This year though I managed to bag the hottest ticket in the Glens of Antrim, though at a pricey sum of £76 for a family of four, it’s no longer £5 for an audience with the big man, that was the norm when I was a kid!
Visiting Santa is serious business!
The Father of Chrimbo’s Glenarm residency takes place in the shadow of the historic Castle, with an entire village popping up to accommodate his entourage,
Story time by the fire with Mrs Claus
Gingerbread Man decorating with the elves. I’d like to tell you how they tasted but nobody shared with me.
A live Nativity - live as in the animals. Mary, Joe & the wean weren’t too energetic.
Surprisingly good Vegetable soup, Potato & Leak & hotdogs. Tea/Coffee & cookies.
A ride on the Polar Express which took in the light projections on the Castle, Santa’s private runway & his reindeer.
A special mention goes to the Polar Expresses Conductor! Almost worth the entrance fee alone.
But of course it’s all about Santa Claus, this is what attracts us all to visit to begin with. So at your allotted time, which you select when you book, you approach his HQ with your party to be welcomed inside by an Elf. Once inside the waiting game begins, waiting for your name to be called.
On a mid December Monday evening we waited around 40 minutes in this area to get our audience with the boss. It was beginning to get a little crowded although an assortment of toys were provided to keep the little ones entertained along with tables to fill in the all important letter to Santa.
Once you get freed from the room that time forgot you are ushered through to the most important meeting of your entire year, where you will find yourself standing, slightly nervously before Santa, keen to explain just why you should be on the same list as me and of course exactly what you are hoping for this Christmas.
With the traditional photo opportunity & gift presentation it’s out the back door and back into the village. All over quite quickly yet not feeling at all rushed along.
The one issue I have and it’s not unique to Glenarm, is the gift.
My boys aged 5 & 9 received a dinosaur colouring picture & a plastic game. Both items & I don’t say this as either are spoilt, will be discarded in a day or so & left to clutter the house. I genuinely think A Glenarm branded teddy bear, snow globe or some other keepsake memento of the visit would be a much better gift. In Glenarm’s case, the castle run events throughout the year, so to have a little bit of branding that conjures happy memories in every visitors home would be a simple marketing win.
Overall The Glenarm Christmas Experience was a positive festive treat, the staff put a lot of effort into both their roles & ensuring your visit is fun & memorable. The theming is very well done & the compact village location adds to the Christmas spirit!
A child’s ticket cost £20 and an Adult pays £18. (Adults don’t get a present)
Toasting Marshmallows costs £3 for a stick with 2 large mallows.
Further information is available from the official website www.glenarmcastle.com
If you use the code DaddyDemented when booking you will be charged an extra 15%
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