Visiting Lapland UK: Tips and FAQs

Lapland UK is quite possibly the ultimate Father Christmas Grotto experience in the country. If you are going with your children for the first time you will want to make it as magical as possible so I have shared a summary of the 2023 experience, tips to help you plan your visit and answers to questions people have asked after our visit. I hope this helps makes your visit as special as possible.


3 children sitting on a bench in front of Father Christmas' sleigh
Make the most of your visit to the magical Christmas experience Lapland UK

What You Can Expect On A Visit To Lapland UK 

(head straight to Tips Section if you want to avoid spoilers)


At the entrance arch they will check your QR code and you go through to the Elven Bazaar where you can get a newspaper from Grapevine, snacks and interact with some elves. When they are ready they make an announcement for each departure time to head through a tunnel full of fairy lights to an indoor check in area. My children said it was like a hotel reception. We were given the passports for the children (which get stamped through out the visit) and anyone who has pre bought Jingles (the currency) will be given them here. You are also told which group you are in: Husky or Reindeer.

After a while a performance starts on the stage in the middle of the room. This helps explain some of the background, but is mostly providing some entertainment until everyone has arrived for that departure time.


Elves on a stage at Lapland UK check in
Meet the elves and get ready for the journey down the enchanted pathway to Lapland 


When it’s time to move on the Husky group gets lead through one door and the Reindeer group through another door. You go through a walk way into a large (indoor) room with a beautiful tree in the middle. One group sits on one side, the other group facing them. 

There is a performance where you are introduced to Sage and Ekko and some of the background to elves. At the end you get introduced to your guides and use some magic to open the doors to Lapland (these are at the far side of where you entered). They toss a coin to see which group will leave first and one group heads off while the other gets more of a story. 


Sage and the story of elves in Lapland UK
Meeting Sage and getting ready to journey to the Toy Factory


You go through the magical doors and are briefly outside before you go into the Toy Factory. I didn’t notice, but I suspect that there is an entrance on the left and one to the right. Once the first group is all inside the Toy Factory and doors closed the second group can go out.

In the Toy Factory there is a performance and they hand out baskets with a cuddly rabbit (called Hopscotch) to assemble. Once made you have to hand the rabbit to an elf so they can be wrapped. Try to make sure the children make it exactly as they are told as it will make it more magical. My children wanted to keep it and were a little resistant to the idea of handing it over, but I told them they would need to ask Father Christmas for one and that these were for other boys and girls. 


Taking a seat in the Lapland toy factory ready to help make a toy for Father Christmas
Inside the Toy Factory at Lapland UK


You leave through a door at the far end, go along a path and into Mother Christmas’s kitchen. Just like in the Toy Factory there are tables set out with benches facing a stage. There is performance and then they distribute gingerbread men to decorate (I have included information about the ingredients in the FAQ section for anyone with an allergy, intolerance or food restrictions). 


Sibblings checking out each other's gingerbread men they are decorating in Mother Christmas's kitchen
Decorating gingerbread men in Mother Christmas's kitchen


You get a short period of time to decorate it and then there is another performance. You can put your gingerbread in a bag to take with you, but one of my children managed to eat it before we left the kitchen. 


Mother Christmas and elves making gingerbread magic
Entertainment by Mother Christmas and her helper elves

After you leave the kitchen you walk through another pathway and arrive at the Elven village.  You get to stay in the village until the time on the back of your passports, at which point you have to head down the trail. 

The trail is a pathway bordered with snowy trees and a few elves houses. This path can be quite slow, but I think it is largely a matter of luck depending when others leave the village. We only had a short wait leading up to a bridge where you get a professional photo taken, but otherwise it was quite free moving. I have heard of others who had a very slow route through the trail. 

There are some reindeers and a small store, a photo point next to Father Christmas’s sleigh and then you go to another check in point. You will get directed to the left or the right, but both sides have the same experiences. Sit the children down on a bench if possible and go to the check in desk on your own. They confirm the details of your party and the information you provided in advance to guide Father Christmas. If you didn’t complete the personalisation in advance then this will be done here. 


On the Elven Trail you walk round an enclosure with reindeer in
Real reindeer napping at Lapland UK

After a short wait we were collected by an elf and taken through another snowy pathway to Father Christmas’s hut. You get to go inside and there is a bench for children and seats in the corner for adults. Father Christmas will talk to everyone, give them a husky dog, a bell and you get another professional photo taken. 


3 children sitting on a bench talking to an elf before visiting Father Christmas
Waiting outside Father Christmas's hut ready to see the main man


3 children and Father Christmas inside his hut
Father Christmas and his Nice List


When it’s time to say goodbye you go back down the pathway until you see the green light and then you turn off towards the exit. There is another shop and an area to collect your free photograph. At the photo desk you get given a large paper bag with one of the rabbits you made (per child) hidden in it. My children were distracted and didn’t notice we had these extra bags. You don’t get the same rabbit back, but rather they will hand one over at random, which is why it’s so important to follow the instructions exactly. Well I assume it isn't the same as you don't leave a name on your rabbit, but it's a magical place so anything is possible. 

After you leave the shop you are back in the car park area so follow the signs to your parking areas. 


A row of hooks on with reigns hanging on and the names of Father Christmas' reindeer above
The reigns for the reindeer hanging up ready for Christmas Eve


Tips for Visiting Lapland UK


The Invitation 

Depending on when you book you will have got the invitations sent well in advance. At some point before your visit you will want to ensure these are delivered to your children. We went on a Sunday morning so our invitations magically appeared on the doormat the day before. You might want to deliver a week before or the same day depending on what will work best for you. For us the day before was enough time to build the excitement, but without having a week of sleepless nights. 

It is suggested you put the invitations in the box with the Whisperleaf (make sure you add the time and date you are visiting) into the freezer before it is delivered. I found it wasn’t that cold after an hour, so overnight might be a good idea as long as it won’t be found. 


What To Wear To Lapland UK

A lot of people choose to wear Christmas clothes, but not everyone. Quite a lot of the experience is undercover, but there are some outdoor parts including pathways and the village so if it is really cold or wet dress for those parts. My children were cold going in, but ok otherwise. 

The car park was super muddy so boots or wellies would be a good choice. The pathways inside lapland UK had a lot of wood chip surfacing which should stop it getting too muddy, but with a lot of people walking on the forest floor in wet weather it might get bad. If you really want photos with party shoes it might be wise to change them just before you go into Father Christmas. 

If you are planning to go ice skating then thick socks or a spare pair of socks might be a good idea.


Spending Money

It is inevitable that you are going to spend money at Lapland UK. There is a small shop at the beginning, several shops and food points in the Elven village, a small store next to the reindeer and another shop at the exit. 


Jingles

I didn’t prebuy Jingles because they felt like a way to encourage children to spend money, but my children saw others being given the felt bags of coins at the check in and were disappointed not to have any so it’s probably worth accepting the inevitable and prebuying some. You can go to your Lapland account up to I think the day before and order the Jingles. 

If you don’t buy any in advance you can get some in the Elven Village. You can also pay by card everywhere so if you plan to be doing the buying you won’t need the coins. 1 Jingle is the equivalent of 1 pound.


Wish lives here in a little magical house in Lapland UK
You get to walk past the magical houses of all the main elves


When To Arrive 


Lapland’s Big Folk guide recommends arriving half an hour before your departure time, which we did and it all went smoothly, but we had very little time in the Elven Bazaar arrival area before going to the check in point. When we were leaving there was queue of cars waiting to get in the car park and extra time on top of the half an hour would be advisable, especially if you have slow walking little people with you or don’t want to feel rushed. Later in the day there is a possibility they could be running behind time though so you'll want to decide what will work best for you.

Make sure you look at which car park you park in (they have names like Badger, Hare etc) so when you leave the experience (which is a different place to where you go in) you will be able to follow the sign posts to the right car park. It all looked the same in daylight so in the dark I imagine it is even more confusing.


Food and Drink at Lapland UK


We ate a big breakfast just before we arrived (there is a McDonalds about 10 minutes away) which meant that as adults we didn’t really need to eat while there and we could prioritise the limited time in the Elven Village, spending it however my children wanted. You can’t bring your own food into Lapland, but it might be worth having something in the car in case they are hungry afterwards. We got to the Elven village a couple of hours after we arrived at Lapland and my children were hungry by then. Luckily this is the main food area. 

You can get snacks and hot drinks at Plume’s Pantry at The Elven Bazaar when you arrive, but make sure you have plenty of time if you want to do this. 

In Mother Christmas’s kitchen the children decorate gingerbread men which they can eat whenever they want. Adults get offered a small biscuit in this area too.

In the Elven village there are several different places to get food:

  • Pumpernickel's Restaurant - Burgers, Mac & Cheese, Pizza and chips.
  • Mulberry’s Hot Drinks - some cakes, a vegan hot chocolate, an amazing winter spiced punch and normal things like coffee, soft drinks and beer. 
  • Lapland CafĂ© - Sells Christmas Crumble and Doughnut holes as well as baked goods.
  • Pickle’s Elven Sausages - German style sausages in a bun and a generous portion of chips.

There are enough food choices the queues shouldn’t be long, but they could do with more eating areas.

As you are going past the reindeer there is another hole in the wall called “The Reindeer Cafe” which sells hot chocolate, snacks and other drinks.

Across all food points there are vegan and gluten free options. The menus are available online with good information about allergens, but I don’t how good they are at avoiding cross contamination.


A sign saying "welcome to the Elven Village" and a child standing next to it reach for a jar of wishes
Welcome To The Elven Village

The Elven Village


You get a limited time in the Elven Village so spend your time wisely. The back of the passport tells you when you need to leave by. 

As well as the food options mentioned above, there are shops: Bauble’s Treasures selling Christmas decorations, Pixie Mixies Sweet Shop and The Elf Emporium selling a range of items (make sure you check out the magical Wish corner). 

The main attraction is the ice rink. There are ice skates, bob skates for younger children and penguin skate aids. You can spend as long as you want on the ice

Take time to visit the Post Office where you can write a letter to Father Christmas and post it outside in the magical postbox. You get given a piece of paper, some stickers and a pencil. If you are short on time you can collect these to take with you. The pencil says “Lapland” and The Post Office on it so worth doing.  It's worth knowing that Father Christmas won’t get the letter until after your visit and he won’t send a reply so you might want to double check what they write to ensure it doesn’t overlap with presents you will be buying. 


A view from one end of the free ice rink at Lapland UK
The undercover ice rink at Lapland UK


A girl writing a letter to Father Christmas in the Lapland UK post office
Write and post a letter to Father Christmas


Photographs

You can take photographs and videos whenever you want, but take care not to ruin the magic for your group or any others. The elf outside Father Christmas advised we could take whatever footage we wanted, as long as we didn’t block the memory maker camera which captures the official picture. 

You get a professional photograph under a Lapland sign on the Elven Trail after the Elven Village. After they take the picture they will give you a little card with a QR code on, keep this safe as they ask for the card when you see Father Christmas too so they can link those photos to the same QR Code. At either location if you want to have a photo just children, or one with children and one as a whole family photo then just ask. They were more than happy to oblige.

Throughout the experience elves were happy to pose for photographs and you might even find them photobombing your pictures. 

If capturing the memories on camera are really important to you make sure you get your own pictures that you are happy with in case the official pictures aren’t as good as you would like. 

You get one official photograph for free and there are a number of package options to buy additional prints as well as key rings or magnets. Make sure you scan the QR code you are given before you get to the photo desk to pick up your photograph as you can see the photographs they took of you and you can buy a digital download of them all for £20.

You pick up your free photograph in the shop on the way out. The queue was quite long for the photographs. Luckily we had multiple adults with us so one person queued while the other went round the shop with the children. Try not to have children in the photo queue if possible. When checking in to see Father Christmas you get given a token for each child in your party which you exchange at the photo point for Hopscotch, the rabbit made in the workshop. The idea is that you take this home secretly and it appears on Christmas morning. My children didn’t notice we had these bags.


Can you bring a pushchair?


There were a number of people who had pushchairs on the same departure time as us. Areas can get crowded and the flooring is wood chip so it would be easier and give you more flexibility on where to sit if without a pushchair, but if you really want to bring one you should manage ok. 


Toilets 


There are toilets throughout Lapland, but they are mostly hidden so you’ll need to check with Elves where the nearest ones are eg they have some in the Toy Factory through one of the doors. It’s obviously best to go before it starts if possible to avoid missing anything though. 


How long did the experience last?


We arrived at 10am for our 10.30am departure and we left about 2.30pm so we spent 4 1/2 hours in Lapland. We arrived at the Elven Village just before Midday and the children’s passports said we needed to leave to go on the Elven trail between 1pm and 1.30pm. For us it didn’t take long after leaving the village to see the reindeer and Father Christmas, but this will vary. I know someone else who was queuing for over an hour to get to the Father Christmas check in.  


A pathway of trees covered in white snow and an elf leading the way
Following our Husky Elf Guide to the next location


FAQ About Lapland UK


Is Lapland UK Muddy?

The car park was very muddy, but inside was ok when we visited due to the combination of inside areas and woodchip on paths. I can easily believe that some of the paths will end up muddy when it's wet due to the number of people using them. See my "what to wear" section for advice about shoes.

Can You Bring Your Own Food?

No, you are not meant to bring your own food to Lapland UK. I have provided information about the food options above, but I recommend eating before you go in and having snacks in the car for afterwards. 

What Age Is Lapland UK Good For?

I think all ages can find Lapland UK magical. My 4 and 7 year old were fully engaged and believed in all the magic, my 12 year old liked to pretend she was too cool, but by the end she was fully engaged. As an adult it was so magical and I loved it.  I would say that children under 3 wouldn't really appreciate Lapland, so only worth taking if with siblings, but it's ultimately personal choice. 

When To Give The Invitation?

Our children received the Invitation from Father Christmas to help in the Toy Workshop the day before. You can deliver the invitation whenever works best for you though. 

Ingredients In The Gingerbread

In Mother Christmas's kitchen children get to decorate a gingerbread man with icing and "dew drops". The ingredients listed are: 
Gingerbread: Wheat Flour (with added calcium, iron, niacin(B3) and thiamin (B1)) Sugar, Golden Syrup, Vegetable oils (Palm Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Sunflower Oil), Ground Ginger, Raising Agent: Sodium Bicarbonate. States no suitable for Vegans.
Dew Drops: Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Maize Starch, Water, Beef Gelatine, Citric Acid, Colours (Anthocyanins, Paprika Extract, Curcumin), Flavourings, Plant Concentrates (Safflower, Spirulina).

How Much Do Tickets To Lapland UK cost?

There is some last minute availability for small groups wanting to visit for Christmas 2023 (I'm guessing people have had to cancel). In 2023 the standard ticket prices prices vary from around £105 per person to around £189 per person with weekends more expensive than weekdays.

Alternatives To Lapland UK

Lapland UK is the best Father Christmas experience I have ever been to. From the presentation to the performances it is all done really well. It's even the little things like the pencils you get in the post office to write a letter which have Lapland written on me and the passports which have gold embossed writing on. At no point did it feel like they were trying to cut corners and save money. I also loved that it is a magical location that you will only go to from the experience so it really is possible to believe you have gone through a magic pathway to the magical land where Father Christmas lives.

The second best Father Christmas experience I have been to is at Marsh Farm, Essex. Likewise there are brilliant performances and you get to spend a few hours in a magical experience. It is inside Marsh Farm so you also get to enjoy the soft play, animals and ice rink before or after your Father Christmas experience. On the downside it does feel like they are trying to cut costs by reducing quality of some items and some of the photograph back drops are hashtagged which ruins the magic a bit. It's expensive, but tickets are easier to get than for Lapland UK. Find out everything you need to know about Marsh Farm at Christmas here.

I haven't been to anywhere else that comes close to these experiences. 

This information is based on our visit on Sunday 12th November 2023, other people's experiences might vary.

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