11 things we love about The Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

I’m not sure how it has happened but it’s December next week . . . and we all know what that means!  I flipping love Christmas – but in December, so as soon as the 1st of the month hits I’m ready to go full throttle festive and for us this usually means a trip to Stockeld Park to see Father Christmas.  We’ve been visiting Father Christmas at Stockeld Park since Chloe was born and only missed one year since!  Amy was tiny and I couldn’t drive after my section so we went to Tatton Park instead – it was “fine” but we were keen to get back to the Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park the following year!

Siblings at The Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

Before the school day became an issue for us we used to go on a Friday afternoon right at the start of December meaning that it was a little quieter (and also meant it was still counted as off-peak so slightly cheaper too!).  Now that we have Ben and Chloe in full time school we are more restricted so tend to pick the first weekend in December – of course this counts as “peak” and as such is more expensive but I still think it’s a great value day out.  Going at the start of December makes it a really lovely way to kick off the festive period and also means we’ve got time to sort out any surprise requests when they see Father Christmas!!

11 things we love about the Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

1. There’s so much to do that you don’t have to pay for (and a range of options for those that you do!)

This is a really important factor as it would be easy to spend an absolute fortune on visiting the Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park – Once you’ve paid for your tickets for Santa’s Grotto, things like ice skating or the Enchanted Forest are an additional cost (although you can buy Adventure Day passes which cover all the Adventure Zones at a discount).  Over the years we’ve tried out different combinations of Stockeld Park activities and tickets but it’s perfectly possible to spend several hours at Stockeld Park without spending much over the cost of your Grotto ticket price (£11 per child) – in fact I think that’s probably what we will aim to do this year.

There’s two play areas which are free to use – one indoor (which I must admit we’ve tended to avoid, preferring to stay outside if we can) and one outdoor play.  One of my favourite things about the outdoor play area (also known as Farmer Foster’s Barnyard) is the well thought out artificial grass in places meaning it’s possible to enjoy a spot of hill rolling even on a cold, damp day – trust me, my children have tried this.

Playing in Farmer Foster's Barnyard at Stockeld Park
Free outdoor play area at Stockeld Park
artificial grass hill at Stockeld Park

2. Allotted times to see Father Christmas to minimise queuing

Anyone who has tried to queue for any length of time with a small child will know how much of a big deal this is! We have been to the Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park before when a less effective queuing system was in place and we stood outside in the cold for SO long – it really took the shine off the experience.  Last year they had it absolutely spot on, you were given a number on arrival (reminiscent of going to the butcher’s counter in the supermarket) and you basically just had to keep an eye on the signs around the park letting you know which number was next, once your number was displayed you could head down to the grotto for your turn.  Any queuing after this happens indoors where it’s warm and it all becomes part of the magic so you don’t mind half as much!

Father Christmas - Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

3. Incredible hot chocolate

Of course if you’re visiting the Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park, you have to expect that it’s going to get pretty cold.  It doesn’t matter how well wrapped up you are, at some point the need for a hot chocolate is going to hit you and the guys at Stockeld Park have got you covered.  As well as The Woodland Cafe which is indoors (and I must admit we’ve never found a seat in) there’s also the Lake View Cafe which is essentially a large marquee and Hansel’s Cabin in the main forecourt.  I know in the past there’s been quite a big queue at Hansel’s Cabin but it was well worth it for the delicious hot chocolate!

Hot chocolate at Stockeld Park
Hot chocolate at Stockeld Park, Christmas adventure

4. The gorgeous gift shop 

Now I do love a good gift shop and Stockeld Park doesn’t disappoint – at this time of year the gift shop is packed to the rafters with gorgeous Christmas decorations and toys – I’m sure it get’s bigger every year.  (It’s also worth mentioning that it’s perfectly possible to avoid going into – there’s nothing worse than an attraction which exits through the gift shop when you’ve got three small children with you!)

5. A real ice skating rink

I do think there’s something gloriously festive about ice skating so it seems like the perfect activity to have at Stockeld Park during the winter months.  Skate hire is included in the ticket price and the penguin skate aids are free to use on a first come, first serve basis.  Ice skating at Christmas with the Butlers has become something of a tradition for us now (and one which we’re really looking forward to again this year).  We haven’t braved taking all three children on our own as when we had the chance to at Stockeld Park last year, Dave had a broken elbow and getting on the ice with the kids on my own really wasn’t going to happen!

real ice skating rink - Stockeld Park Christmas

6. The Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest has been a key part of our visits to Stockeld Park at Christmas over the years – we try to time it for late afternoon so it’s starting to get dark as we go into the forest, by the time we come out the other end it’s properly dark and you can really feel the full effect of all the magical twinkly lights.  The downside of going into the forest at this time is that you can’t take full advantage of the additional play areas which have been added in recent years.  (I keep promising the kids we’ll go back for the Summer Adventure again but have yet to manage it!)  I love that there is a clearly defined route around the forest and the kids really enjoy finding the things they remember from previous trips (like the trolls under the bride) or new things that have been added.

illuminated enchanted forest Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

7. A range of play areas to suit different ages 

As I’ve already mentioned – there’s an indoor play area in the Woodland Cafe and a Farmer Foster’s Barnyard which are free to use and are situated centrally.  As you walk through the Enchanted Forest you will come across four large adventure playgrounds which are spread out along the route.  What I love about these is that there’s something to suit each of my children – Ben loves all the ropes and climbing of the Spider’s Lair whereas Amy prefers Woodsand’s Cove.  The only downside is trying to get them to move onto the next space – I usually manage it with an as yet unfulfilled promise of returning when the weather is warmer!

play area at Stockeld Park

8. Plenty of free parking 

Something which really annoys me is turning up to a large attraction where I’m already going to spend quite a bit of money, and then being expected to pay for parking too.  Thankfully that’s not the case at Stockeld Park – the parking is free and plentiful (albeit on grass so maybe don’t take your fancy sports car!)

9. Friendly, helpful staff

Clearly at an attraction like this, the staff can really make or break the experience and it’s safe to say that in our experience, the staff at Stockeld Park really do make it.  Everyone is super friendly and helpful and keen to add to the magic of your day out.

Elves working at Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

10. Gorgeous gifts

One of the things I love most about visiting Father Christmas at Stockeld Park is the gifts – there’s no rubbish plastic tat here.  Every child gets the same gift – and every year it is a different cuddly toy.  We now have a collection of them – a reindeer, a penguin, husky dog and a seal I think from memory and each year they get packed away with the Christmas decorations.  It has become part of our Christmas traditions, to keep these cuddly toys just for the festive season.  The kids love getting them out at the start of December and adding a new one to their team!

presents from Father Christmas at Stockeld Park
Cuddly toys from Father Christmas at Stockeld Park

11. The REAL Father Christmas 

And finally, the most important point of all.  The Father Christmas at Stockeld Park is the REAL one!  We all know he has lots of helpers who work in the various grottos around the country making sure that everyone gets a chance to ask for whatever present they would like but the one at Stockeld Park?  It’s really him.  I just know it.

If Stockeld Park doesn’t tickle your fancy, here’s a handy guide to some of the best places to visit Santa in York

*Read about more family days out in Yorkshire here*



  1. November 23, 2017 / 9:16 pm

    We love Stockeld Park! 10/10 for getting a photograph of the hot chocolate, I always remember afterwards! The gift shop is amazing, isn’t it? I am planning a trip back, just to visit the gift shop in December!

  2. November 23, 2017 / 10:48 pm

    Ahh some really amazing photos of your kids there Collette, it sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Sadly its the wrong part of the country for us. Mich x

  3. November 23, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    That sounds like a fun day out. We haven’t booked to go and see Father Christmas this year, we’re yet to find a really good one!

  4. November 28, 2017 / 8:05 am

    Aw this is so delightful, I want to visit even though I have no young children to take. “Mum can you pick me up from a party at 1am” isn’t quite so appealing as pre Christmas entertainment!

  5. November 28, 2017 / 8:15 am

    This looks like a fabulous day out and great that you don’t have to stand in a long queue to see Santa. His elves have very cute costumes :o)


  6. November 28, 2017 / 9:19 am

    Oh wow! That looks like such a fantastic day out. It has everything you need for some Christmas fun!
    Fantastic photos! x

  7. November 28, 2017 / 9:27 am

    It looks like a lovely day out and a wonderful tradition. I do like the idea that they’re always soft toys and you build a collection over the years, that’s very sweet.

  8. Shevy du Toit
    November 28, 2017 / 10:27 am

    This looks like such a great place for the kids, despite the cooler weather ? Pity it’s a bit far from me (Reading) but thank you for sharing.

  9. November 28, 2017 / 10:31 am

    This looks amazing! I wish we lived nearer as Mia would love to spend an afternoon doing Christmassy things! My mum takes her to see Santa at our local country park which is lovely but doesn’t have the range of activities and fun things to do as here does!


  10. November 28, 2017 / 10:54 pm

    What a lovely place, I love the skating rink and that hot chocolate looks amazing. I’m pretty sure the Father Christmas we saw at Hatton was not the ‘real’ one, his beard wasn’t even real, so maybe yours was?? I hope you asked for something nice πŸ™‚

    • Colette
      December 4, 2017 / 2:41 pm

      I’m convinced πŸ˜‰

  11. November 28, 2017 / 11:07 pm

    This isn’t far from us and we have never been at Christmas, certainly somewhere to try πŸ™‚ #TriedTested

    • Colette
      December 4, 2017 / 2:40 pm

      Ah you should go – it’s fab x

  12. November 28, 2017 / 11:20 pm

    It looks like a really fab place to visit – and it’s great there are lots of activities that don’t cost any extra. Just a shame it’s a bit too far away for a day out for us πŸ™‚ #TriedTested

    • Colette
      December 4, 2017 / 2:40 pm

      Yes the different pricing options are great.

  13. November 29, 2017 / 11:30 am

    I’m glad to hear you found the real one! How great he could take time out to visit there before the big day! Fab review, the hot choc and ice skating sells it for me! #triedtested

    • Colette
      December 4, 2017 / 2:39 pm

      It does make for a wonderfully festive day out x

  14. November 29, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    Never heard of this place and particularly like the sound of the Enchanted Forest #TriedandTested

    • Colette
      December 4, 2017 / 2:39 pm

      It’s fab – beautifully lit

  15. December 4, 2017 / 1:40 pm

    Oh wow this looks like an amazing place, I love Christmas and seeing Santa is so important. Can I just say that those hats and scarves are gorgeous!

    • Colette
      December 4, 2017 / 2:34 pm

      Ah thanks! The yellow ones are last year’s Little Bird, Chloe’s red one was knitted by my Aunty M x

  16. December 4, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    This looks like an amazing way to get into the festive spirit with the kids. I completely agree with you about parking charges and attractions, glad Stockeld Park treats visitors well on that #triedtested

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