Santa, with snow? How can you turn it down? An invitation to review Santa's Snow Grotto at Chill Factore was a fantastic offer.
We were very, very late. We'd set off with nearly an hour to spare but unfortunately an accident on the M60 meant we had to crawl to where we could escape and then drive through Manchester to get there. Our booked slot was 6.45pm to see Santa and we arrived at 7.10pm in a panic in case we'd missed him completely.
It took until 7.25pm to get snow suits on my partner and children and get into the queue - and phew! He hadn't gone back to The North Pole yet....I was so relieved I could have cried - I nearly did, but not quite.
I've spoken before about the staff at Chill Factore, and I have to say it again, they were absolutely lovely. We were put into the next (and final) slot and told it wasn't a problem, we'd still have Snow Play afterwards. Nothing seems like too much bother for them and we had people walking about with us, finding other people, coming over to see if we were okay and generally being completely helpful and friendly throughout.
After waiting in the short queue (we were the last family), we followed Santa's Elf through a winding set of corridors, curtains and doorways and outside across the snow.
Finally through a special door - little door for the children, big door for the grown ups - and the Elf!
And there he was - the special man himself - Father Christmas, or Santa as my boys know him. He was on very fine form. He chatted to my boys for ages about Monsters Inc and Transformers and guessed their ages almost perfectly. He was very knowledgeable. His favourite Transformer is BumbleBee (true fact).
I absolutely adored that his grotto was decorated all over with children's letters and artwork. I wished I'd drawn him a picture, I know he'd have pulled out some tape and put it up and told me it was great. I actually felt like a child again. So much so, it was great to all pose for a photo - you can tell by the smiles that we all knew something magical was happening.
We had our photo put into a snowglobe frame and while the lady was doing it a gentleman walked past us with a flat cap and with his lower face covered by a scarf. He said a cheery goodbye to her and I recognised his voice, but my boys would never have known. It's those very special little details that make every difference.
Because of my pesky leg and my crutches I had to go inside then, and they went out to play in the Snow Play area for half an hour. I'm the one on the balcony, I had no idea what I was standing above!!
The Snow Play area was lovely! It was decorated as a candy cane filled Winter Wonderland.
There were still mini tubing runs for the little ones and my boys loved them!
At 8pm the Snow Play area closes and we had chance on the way out to enjoy the gorgeous decorations in the foyer - including this amazing tree!
Time to go home, and (after our 20 minute drive home) we made the boys get their pyjamas on before they opened their gifts from Santa
My boys haven't really met Santa very many times, but they're already discussing how the Santas in shops can't all be real. It seems they were very happy to believe that Santa would be happy to turn up to speak to children at Chill Factore because it's cold and he likes cold, it's like his home.
The Chill Factore had made such a huge effort with decorations and to make this a really special occasion, and the staff are so incredibly lovely, that I just can't fault it. It was absolutely fabulous.
Chill Factore Santa's Snow Grotto and Snowplay costs £17 for 1 adult and 1 child but there is a special offer on weekdays before 18th December where you can go for only £5 per person. Snowplay is suitable for children aged 2+ and hire of suits is extra.
Our snowglobe photoframe and a large print of our photo cost £15 and loads of different photo gifts are available