Christmas arrived in fine style at a popular North East farm attraction last weekend.
Santa gave his hardworking team of reindeer the day off and hitched his sleigh to a tractor for his welcome parade when he landed at Whitehouse Farm Centre near Morpeth.
The celebrations marked the official opening of the Centre’s annual ‘Winter Wonderland’ festivities.
The guest of honour entered the Farm to festive tunes performed on the steel pans by Cramlington Caribbean Crew members Claire Falcus, Jenny Chan and Katie Braby and was accompanied by his lovely wife Mrs Claus, his cheeky head elf, the beautiful Christmas fairy and of course his good friend, Whitehouse Farm’s resident mascot, Nelson the Pig.
Also taking coveted spots on the tractor ride were the lucky winners of Whitehouse Farm’s Winter Wonderland competition, the Higgins-Colquhoun family from North Shields.
The prize winners got to lead the festive parade and ride into the Farm with Santa and his helpers, followed by a visit to Santa’s grotto so the girls could tell him all about their Christmas wish lists.
Now that Santa has arrived, the Farm’s countdown to Christmas has begun in earnest.
In addition to the usual programme of activities getting up close and personal with the Centre’s resident animal family, visitors can take a walk in Winter Wonderland, write and post letters to Santa in the magic post box and meet the man himself in his grotto.
Whatever the weather, it’s warm and cosy in the grotto and Santa is there to chat to his young fans and find out what they would like to find under the tree this year, as well as supplying some magic hay so the reindeer will have a delicious snack to collect on Christmas Eve!
Weekends are even more fun with opportunities to take part in elf school and decorate festive Christmas cookies.
Karen Lovatt, Operations Director at Whitehouse Farm, said: “We are glad Santa’s managed to take time out of his busy schedule to visit us. He enjoys it here on the Farm as he gets to meet so many of the good children he’ll be delivering presents to and we’re looking forward to having him throughout December.
“Everyone at Whitehouse Farm loves ‘Winter Wonderland’ season, it’s a magical time of the year, and even the animals seem to get in the festive mood!”
An additional date for your winter diary is Saturday 2 December, when the very first Whitehouse Farm Christmas Fair is held at the retail hub next to the Farm Park between 10am and 3pm. There is no entry charge to visit the Fair which features many local artisan craft and food stalls, along with several of the companies from the hub itself opening their doors to welcome visitors.
Confirmed attendees include the Northumberland Cheese Company, Coquet Chocolate and Fire Dig Pottery. Beer company Anarchy Brewery, who are based at the Farm, will be having their big Christmas Beer Bash on the same day and neighbouring company, child care experts The Nursery will host an open day with story sessions and arts and crafts activities on offer.
Dawn Peters, Whitehouse Farm Events Co-ordinator, said: “We’re really excited about our first ever Christmas fair and there’ll be some great gift ideas on offer, allowing shoppers to support our local businesses with their purchases. We are looking forwards to welcoming families from far and wide.”
If you’d like to visit Whitehouse Farm’s Winter Wonderland the festivities run from 18 November to 24 December. The Centre opens daily (except on Mondays) from 10am. During the week Santa usually stops in between 10.30 and 2.30pm (longer at weekends), but if you’re coming specially to see him, it’s recommended that you call to check when he is due.
Whitehouse Farm Centre celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and is one of the North East’s best known and most loved tourist attractions. For additional information on visiting, schedules and directions, go online at www.whitehousefarmcentre.co.uk.