It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
No bah humbugs here, we are in the full Christmas swing down in delightful Devon and to get us off to to a merry start, we visited the The Big Sheep, just outside of Bideford in Abbotsham, North Devon.
At this time of year parts of the park are transformed into a festive wonderland. A magical seasonal treat for the whole family over the Christmas period, starting in early December and continuing right through until Christmas Eve. It’s easy to see that lots of thoughtful care and attention has been used to transform the space into a cheerful Christmas experience full of tinsel and fairy lights.
Part of this transformation on the day we visited included a Christmas Food Market, a Christmas Craft Market and Woolys Winter Wonderland which includes a visit to Santa’s grotto.
Inside we also enjoyed an ice rink and snowboarding simulator, I say we but I could not quite bring myself to have a go on the snowboarding machine as I caught a cheeky grin from the elf who was on the control panel, and he was thoroughly enjoying turning the speed up as the children wobbled off the snowboard. The children were loving every single minute of the action… but on this occasion, I did not feel like being thrown onto a huge inflatable! We did however enjoy trying to keep our children upright in their skates on the ice rink. A whole barrel of laughs whilst enjoying the beautiful light displays and sipping hot chocolate which all adds to the wonderland atmosphere. The outside of the grotto itself was decorated perfectly, complete with sleigh, animated work shop elves and a moving snowman set in his very own snowy garden… and of course Father Christmas!
More about our visit to Mr Christmas later, but for now, those of you who don’t know the big sheep, it was originally a sheep farm and has been in the same family for six generations, the site was transformed into an attraction by owner Rick Turner in 1988. Obviously a very good year for creating things as it is the year I was also born! Now a farm themed family Adventure playground with over 25 years of family fun, they run all sorts of fabulous days out with plenty to do here all year round.
The Ewetopia (sheep themed of course) indoor playground is a fantastic space for all ages, a huge, bright and colourful indoor play area with plenty of exciting activities to keep the kids entertained for hours and for us adults the coffee is great too! The menu is simple but yummy, both generous and reasonably priced. I also noticed on one of the party package leaflets that as well as kids parties they also do evening hire, where they keep the indoor play area open for your enjoyment.
My children loved the pull along pig ride outside, all pulled around by a tractor and skillfully driven by a very enthusiastic staff member who had my girls smiling and cheering all the way around the farm.
Our last visit was in the summer, it was one of their many themed days, the theme was superhero day where if your children dress up they will get in for free, well worth checking the website pre visit for upcoming events. They also do a popular “toddler takeover” day, perfect for smaller people.
On our previous visit we also bottle fed lambs, rode ponies, bounced around on giant jumping pillows, rode a rollercoaster, rode on a train and watched sheep racing (a daily occurrence in the summer months) and much much more… They also have something called Battlefield Devon. Think outdoor laser craze! A bit like paintballing but without the bruises or the paint. A splash zone for the warmer months, a climbing wall and they even do sheep and duck trials!
The Christmas farmers market and craft market days are a great addition at this time of year and are regularly held on the the run up to the big day. The barn that is usually filled with animals is filled with delicious Christmas treats and the added marquee next to Wooly’s Wonderland is full of beautiful handmade gifts. From great fresh fish stalls to jams and chutneys, decorative wooden ornaments and gorgeous jewelry, a great place for everyone to stock up for the festive season ahead… We had a lovely time meeting all the talented crafts people and dedicated local food producers.
As I said we are now fully immersed in the Christmas spirit and having young children, the big sheep is a great way to start the holidays, the staff here deserve some real credit as they were completely attentive, jolly and really friendly at every point we met them. It really does feel like a family run farm and the cleverly themed fun all year round makes it a hit with us.
We ended our day with the ultimate father Christmas experience. We were greeted by a hardworking and happy elf who carefully checked our grotto tickets! After checking them over and brilliantly entertaining our girls we ventured into the magical walkway to meet with Santa himself! We walked through a magical wardrobe, into a snowy tunnel, then onto the workshop where the elf boasted about his hard work and made sure that the kids were on the nice list… When we arrived to father Christmas’s living room, he appeared to be having a little nap in front of his very welcoming roaring fire, then with a big yawn and a well rehearsed Ho Ho Ho, he awoke to the beaming smiles of our children. This was without a doubt the best Father Christmas experience we have found so far, he was great and the girls left with a present each and a wonderfully magic memory that we will all cherish forever.
As we were leaving, staff were also setting up the restaurant ready for a fully booked “breakfast with santa experience”, a definite must for us next year… we were also pleased to get a free sprig of mistletoe and an entry into a draw for a sheepskin rug!
They really did think of something for the whole family and we are already eagerly looking forward to our next jam packed visit.
A huge thank ewe to everyone who made our visit very special and to everyone for all the ongoing support I have received for my blogs over the past year.
Wishing everyone a fabulous family Christmas and a Happy New Year!