The Santa Express at Longleat Safari Park

There’s something particularly magical about having young children around during the Christmas period. This is TJ’s fifth Christmas and I have to say that each one has got better and better. We try to do something special each year to create some special memories to look back on in years to come. Last year we went on the Polar Express in Dartmoor which was absolutely amazing and somewhere we would definitely recommend. This year, we asked TJ what he wanted to do and he went for the Santa Express at Longleat Safari Park. (which also coincides with the incredible Festival of Light).

We arrived at the park in plenty of time for our Santa Train booking and had a brief look around at the Festival of Light displays in daylight. The theme this year is Beatrix Potter and the animals looked amazing in the light – we couldn’t wait to see them after the 4pm switch on.

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The trip to Santa took about 10 minutes on the train and the journey was lovely, passing by the lake with the sealions and hippos and then onto the Winter Wonderland. The whole area had been transformed with elves manning the fire, doing face painting and chatting to the children while they waited to see Santa.

TJ absolutely loved visiting Santa and we have to say the gift was really good too. He had his face painted by one of the elves and we think he makes a very cute reindeer – wouldn’t you agree?


After lunch, we decided to take a drive around the safari. We never normally do it this way round – we usually do the safari first and then wander around the rest of the park. However, we were pleasantly surprised with how active the animals were. We managed to get quite close to the zebras, fed the red deer, saw the beautiful lions and tigers and had a wolf walk right alongside the car. It was brilliant.

As the sun went down at 4pm, the lights were switched on and the park was filled with lights of all sizes, shapes and colours. It was amazing – the amount of work that has gone into creating the exhibition is fantastic and we are so pleased that TJ chose this for his festive treat. We read him a Peter Rabbit book the night before our visit and it was lovely that he could recognise some of the characters from the story as well as identifying the different animals.

It really was a magical day. The Festival of Light runs until 2nd January so if you’re looking for something to do between now and the New Year, we would highly recommend a visit.


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