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A weekend at Centre Parcs

santa workshopWhen I was younger I didn’t have many parties. In fact I remember only having one, and still my mum being quite stressed about the whole thing. When I had my own two girls I decided they would have the birthday parties I never had. But as the years have passed (bearing in mind they are only young) I understand why my mum didn’t throw us parties. If you’re a parent, how many times have you thought, ‘I’m not doing this again!’. Then the next year appears and it’s as if we’ve been brainwashed, forgetting all the hassle, the time and most importantly the cost.

Well, having 2 little people, with birthdays that are only 2 weeks apart and so close to Chrimbo, I ‘ummed and ahhed’ about the whole party thing. Did I do a joint party? (Which I’ve done and fitting 30 kids into my house was not one of my better ideas). Do I do it separately? (It all blends into a mad chaotic couple of weeks). So I asked them if they’d like to go away to Centre Parcs instead of having a party. After explaining about the Winter Wonderland, visiting Santa and numerous other activities we could enjoy, both were so excited. It was a done deal.

So that’s where we were this weekend: Whinfell Forest in Cumbria. If you’ve never been, you really must put this on your bucket list. Accompanied by my in-laws, brother-in-law and his family, we had such a great time. We didn’t want to leave!

Having been twice before, the first time about 7 years ago and the second time about 5 years ago, it hadn’t changed much but it was still so amazing, and at some point they must have refurbished the whole place, as it looked brand-new.

There are so many activities to do at Centre Parcs anytime of the year, but at Christmas time there is so much more. My girls and their cousins ages range from 15 months-10 years, reindeerand I thought that it would be difficult to find something they would all enjoy together. I couldn’t have been more wrong. We attended a ‘Design your own stocking workshop’. The girls enjoyed decorating a card stocking, a foam stocking and a large felt stocking. Fantastic keepsakes. They all enjoyed visiting Santa in his Workshop. He was one of the funniest Santa’s we’ve seen. Getting their names mixed up just made them laugh so much; mistaking Megan for Albert had them giggling. I was impressed that they all received gifts fitting for their age. But the best part was getting their photo taken with Santa, which we received in a lovely Christmas frame. The girls were enthralled by Sleeping Beauty’s pantomime. It was excellent. They were mesmerised all the way through. The actors were brilliant and really made us feel part of the play.

It didn’t stop there. On the Sunday night, Centre Parcs put on the most amazing firework display. There was no expense spared. And to top it off, Santa floated past in a boat and waved to us all. It was so exhilarating to say the least. The crowd forming together, all united by these shooting sparkling lights. It felt so good to be part of it.

fireworksCentre Parcs offer a tour through their Enchanted Forest. We decided to do our own little walk on the Sunday night, it was so magical. Watching Donner and Blitzen munching on their food, listening to the different characters singing in their little wooden huts and looking above to see the frosted snowy trees, it was all we could ask for to finish off our last night. Perfect.hut

There is so much to do, although we spent some of the time in the swimming pool. The older kids loving the range of water slides, while I happily spent my time with my youngest on the smaller ones 🙂 We laughed and screamed with delight with the other guests as the wave machine sent us flying across the waters, and experiencing the warmth of the pool in the outside air was so much fun.

The rest of the family had to leave early on the Monday morning, however, we decided to stay and use some more of the facilities. After a game of bowling and eating in the pizzeria, we decided to call it day when our girls were dropping!

I can honestly say this was so much better than throwing 2 parties, that would have cost us more, and would be over in 2 hours (and that’s not even thinking about the mess). The girls have decided they want to do this every year for their birthdays, but unfortunately this is not something that we’ll be able to do for them … yes, due to the new ‘no holiday’ ruling! This I will rant about on another blog, another time. I felt the need to share this experience, as if there was anyone out there wanting to do something a bit different and have a fun-packed weekend (or week), Centre Parcs offers so much for so many ages. We will definitely be looking at going again.