It seems every attraction has a Santa’s grotto at this time of year. Sometimes though, you find one that is a little different. The Santa and Drive experience at Eastnor Land Rover in Herefordshire is completely unique. Not least due to the fact that it’s just as much fun for the parents as the children.
Festive off-road driving at Eastnor Land Rover
Driving through a magical forest in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside could be both idyllic and a little bit dull. But if you’ve ever driven a Land Rover off road, you’ll know that it is in fact a high-energy, adrenaline-fuelled activity. You start out on easy tracks before venturing onto a muddy, undulating course. Obstacles include driving through water, up and down steps and around tight turns.
Personable instructors put you at ease from the moment you step into the vehicle, demonstrating its quirks and capabilities as you drive. We brought the children’s car seats along to put in the back of the car. The girls were given a map each before we set out, with details of animals to look out for in the forest. They were excited to tick each one off on their map when they saw it.
My husband took the wheel first, but I made it clear there was no way he was remaining in the driver’s seat. So half way round, he pulled over and we swapped seats. I was thrown in at the deep end, immediately driving up a set of steps and over some bumps. Next, we plunged into the water and marvelled at how the vehicle easily drove through it. After a few more obstacles and some severe uphills and downhills, it was time to head back to Winter Wonderland to meet a very special visitor.
Santa’s Grotto at Eastnor Land Rover
As soon as we finished our Christmas driving experience at Eastnor Land Rover, one of Santa’s elves came to greet us. She asked the girls if they’d like to go in and see Father Christmas. Of course, the answer was yes, although Lia was a little nervous. Santa’s elf led us into a small garden area with a Christmas tree, open fire and a huge teepee. There were hot drinks and mince pies for adults and the children made a beeline for toasting marshmallows on the fire.
After a few minutes, an elf called Libby and Lia in to see Santa. When I booked our Christmas driving experience, I was asked a few little details about the girls. So when they went to see Father Christmas, he knew their names, ages, interests, what they wanted for Christmas and even the name of their dog.
Both girls received a gift from Santa with their name on it. He also signed their certificates to say they’d completed the festive treasure hunt around the forest. Even a visit to Santa didn’t end the experience. Afterwards, the girls heading off to play in a pretend snowstorm before doing some festive crafts. We came away with several spangly decorations for our Christmas tree.
Santa and Drive at Eastnor Land Rover – the verdict
This was the first time I’d been to a Christmas day out aimed at the whole family. Of course, we all enjoy seeing the festive magic through a child’s eyes. But an experience that parents would want to do even if their children weren’t there is genius. I also loved the fact that the children could experience off-road driving from the back seat.
Families who don’t fancy the driving element of the festivities at Eastnor Land Rover can visit Santa’s Grotto as a standalone visit. The personalised approach makes it really special. The girls left in absolutely no doubt that this was definitely the real Father Christmas. Having said that, I would highly recommend the off-road driving element too. It’s a great introduction to Eastnor Land Rover and will leave you desperate to come back for a longer drive. Head to their website for details of this and other driving experiences. You can also check out my guide to Christmas days out in the West Midlands.