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I’m just home and sitting in my pyjamas after a long drive home from Westport in County Mayo. I’m tired, and I have work tomorrow, but I couldn’t relax until I had sat down and written this post about what a fantastic weekend our little family has just had. You know those events that you really anticipate? You look forward to them for ages and you hope against hope that they will be as good as you dream they would be? Well, this one definitely was. It was really magical.

I’m sure most parents, like me, would do anything to make sure thier little ones experience that magical feeling in the run up to Christmas when they’re young; family time, days out and of course that special visit to see the big man himself….Santa. I’m sure most parents, like me want to see that awe and delight in thier children’s faces as they look up into Santa’s kindly old face and hear that gentle, yet booming merry voice say thier name and ask them what they’d like on Christmas day.

Well, as this was the first Christmas that Adam was kind of ‘aware’ of Santa, and Amelia is really getting into the swing of the whole thing, we were SO lucky to be invited down to Westport House to experience thier Winter Wonderland event – and boy, was it worth the visit. We’d visited during the summer, and it was a real treat to be able to go down again and see this beautiful attraction in all its Yuletide glory. This time, we brought Granny and Granda with us, so it was a real family treat.

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On arrival, you are greeted by the most glorious Christmas tree, with a real feel of tradition and warmth, not to mention the natural welcome from the various elves and staff in thier jolly Christmas jumpers. There were no big queues to get in, it was busy but exciting, not jammed with lengthy wait times like some shopping centre Santas I’ve been to. We had an assigned slot to see Saint Nick, and were brought up to the grotto by ‘Holly-Leaf’, Santa’s special Elf friend. We had to creep in SO quietly, since Santa was snoring his head off – the children loved getting to wake him up! Once he roused himself, he quickly got the merry atmosphere going with a sing-song and had a chat with each child, knew thier names and a little fact or two about them – very special.

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Amelia burst with pride when he asked her how her new nursery was going – and of course I got a little tear in my eye when he gave my two thier gifts and posed for a picture. Hands down the best Santa I’ve ever seen – professional, gentle and kindly and he even had the real hair and beard to match! The kids all loved him.

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Not only did you get to visit Santa, but you also got to enjoy several hours worth of experiences and activites. We walked through the old house, and enjoyed getting to see every nook and cranny festooned with sparkling decorations and twinkling lights, Amelia enjoyed some dancing with the Elves along to Christmas songs, you could take some weight off your feet and enjoy watching a Chrismas movie in the Long Gallery while waiting to visit Mrs Claus for some wonderful story telling. It certainly got all of us in a merry mood, and the complimentary mulled wine in the cafe certainly played its part also!

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Amelia also enjoyed ‘writing’ and posting her letter to Santa while other children got thier faces painted with holly leaves and Christmas stars (for some reason she didn’t want her face painted – contrary children!) and then we took a jaunt downstairs with Granny to decorate our very own yule log which Amelia was very keen to bring home as a gift to Nana.

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The one thing we didn’t get to do was to decorate a gingerbread man as that workshop was so popular that it was queued down the stairs, a testament to the popularity of the event – and Amelia was keen to go on the train outside. What a great way to finish an exciting and special day; we all bundled onto the Westport Express and the kids watched with delight as they caught the occasional glimpse of a snowman here, a reindeer there, through the bushes. Adam was TOO excited; shouting ‘choo choo’ the whole way.

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I’ve visited many Santa’s in my life, both as a child and as a Mum. I’ve even worked as Mrs Claus myself in the past, doing storytelling – so I know the work and preparation that goes in to making Christmas events particularly special for customers. There’s a reason that Westport House were recently awarded Best Family Visitor Attraction in the Maternity Infant Awards 2015 as the event was professional, well managed and unique from start to finish and provided my family and I with special memories for years to come. It was a special day, and even better shared with Granny and Granda – the kids just loved it. I can’t thank the team at Westport House enough for such an unforgettable Christmas experience. Roll on next year!

*Westport House provided complimentary tickets for our visit. All opinions in this blog post are my own*

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