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Lapland UK

By This is Kent  |  Posted: November 14, 2008

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Lapland UK

Bewl Water

Lamberhurst

After a sensational sell-out inaugural year in 2007, Lapland UK is again bringing its magic to the Kent countryside this Christmas.

This year the location is the beautiful Bewl Water Estate, which has been transformed into a winter wonderland until Christmas Eve.

The Lapland UK experience begins when a personal invitation from Father Christmas arrives in the post, requesting your child's help to assist the elves in the toy factory this Christmas.

The whole day is aimed directly at children and 'grown-ups' are only allowed on site if they are accompanying a youngster.

Unfortunately Go! doesn't have a child but we were allowed to follow a young family on their journey around the attraction as part of a press tour last week.

Things didn't start well. As usual, Go! was late. Apparently we missed one of the best parts of the day – when the waiting families knock on the door to the magical world and are greeted by the elves.

Luckily, we weren't the only ones who were late. Ice dancing star Jayne Torvill, there to try out the new ice rink, was also ushered in past the elves to catch up with the main group who were already inside the tunnel.

Once we had been given a few words about the environment by an ecologically-minded elf, we were allowed out into the fresh air again. And strangely, although there had been no sign of snow on the other side of the entrance, we came out into an arctic wonderland.

The tour of Lapland UK begins with a Sami guide being assigned to your group. The guides are well-versed in the Sami – the indigenous people from an area comprised of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They are also rather good at showing often bewildered families around the rabbit's warren of paths at Lapland UK.

The activities start with a visit to Father Christmas's toy factory, where children train as apprentice elves – working on hand-carved rocking horses.

Later the group moves on to help Mother Christmas in her gingerbread house. Here children have the opportunity to decorate their own gingerbread man and take it away with them.

Entertainment comes in the form of several elves, some 'good' and others 'naughty'. All play their parts with gusto and make sure that even the most straight-faced visitors join in with their elf song – sung to the tune of Jingle Bells.

Families can then visit Lapland UK's very own North Pole Post Office, where youngsters can send a letter to Father Christmas.

The little boy that Go! accompanied preferred, however, to give his letter to a life-sized Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer who was having his photo taken with some children. Mesmerised by what must have seemed a huge, living cuddly toy, he wasn't particularly impressed by the real reindeer he met later – they weren't half as huggable.

New for this year, families can also go ice skating in the Village Square. The rink, made of real ice, is supervised at all times by elves, who also provide skates and even do a few turns on the ice themselves.

Also new for 2008 is the addition of a two-course meal in the new seated log cabin restaurant, included in the ticket price.

The highlight of any child's visit to Lapland UK must be meeting the big man himself. The family being shadowed by Go! kindly allowed us to follow them to their private audience with Father Christmas.

Hidden in the wintery woodland, an elf guided us to the log cabin where we were greeted with a beautiful festive scene. Sitting beside a Christmas tree and with a huge box of presents to hand out to visitors, Father Christmas himself welcomed us.

Obviously, Go! doesn't want to spoil the fun for any children, so our time spent with Father Christmas remains our little secret.

If you want to experience the magic for yourself, you could book yourself a flight to the real Lapland. But as it has been recreated so brilliantly so close to home, why bother?

But hurry, Lapland UK is only there until Christmas Eve. After that, Father Christmas takes a well-earned break.

By Caroline Jubb

Open daily until December 24

Prices from £55 to £85 per person (includes a meal, all activities and gifts for all)

Book online at www.laplanduk.co.uk or call 0871 221 9627

Places are limited so early booking is recommended. Advance booking only

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