Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to the big man himself, would it?
There are so many versions of Santa and his grotto around though, it can be a bit confusing: the one you have to book months in advance because it’s soooo great (apparently – I wouldn’t know, organising things more than one week in advance is not my strong point); the one where you have to queue for so long round the back of Santa’s shack in the freezing cold that you’re a bit over it by the time you actually get there; the one where you have to brave a trippy grotto full of mechanical elves who are really quite scary (you’ll know which one I’m talking about if you’ve been there); the one in the shopping centre with the terrible gift not worthy of the pound shop; the Santa who is clearly not a day older than twenty, with a wispy white beard that any self-respecting toddler could tear off with ease… These are the ones we’ve experienced over the last few years anyway!
So my two daughters and I were ready to try something a bit different and were more than happy to get into the festive spirit with the brand new Ministry of Christmas, housed at the Ragged School Museum in East London (a fascinating place in its own right – definitely going back there another day).
Pleased to say the Ministry have worked their magic and managed to come up with something genuinely fresh for this festive season. Rather than a long queue and then a brief chat with the big man, it’s part interactive theatre experience and part workshop, so the whole time is taken up with fun activities which are rotated which means everyone gets their turn with a suitably twinkly-eyed Santa in his snug whilst the others are busy with some Christmas themed fun.
I did wonder at the start whether my 9 year old would get into it, as the theatrics were aimed squarely at a very young audience – her initial comments didn’t go much beyond “LOL”. But Santa’s helpers did a great job of making her feel included and useful and she ended up having a good time in spite of herself. My 7 year old loved it all.
In fact a very jolly time was had by all on our visit and it’s a nice antidote to the raving consumerism that’s rammed into our and our kids’ faces so blatantly at this time of year. The kids do get a gift though of course – come on, it wouldn’t be a visit to Santa otherwise!
Disclaimer: MGF was gifted a family ticket in exchange for this review. All opinions are true and honest.